Making tracks at Indy

Just returned from Indianapolis and Midwest Users Group Conference for CONTENTdm, the digital asset management software that we use to power the Iowa Digital Library.  This was the third annual meeting, but really the first year that it’s been truly regional, attendance-wise.  It was really positive to hear how numbers had grown in those three years.  In ’06, there were 30 attendees, and 60 last year.  This year, 101.  It shows a growing user base that will hopefully have a greater influence on the system’s growth and development.  More regional meetings are planned for this year including ones in the southeast and mid-Atlantic.

We received an update from Claire Cocco, CONTENTdm’s product manager on some exciting enhancements to expect later this year, and Glee Willis delivered a great keynote on day two, encouraging digital libraries to stretch the system through customizations in order to best serve information users, showing examples from some of the leaders in the CONTENTdm community.

I particularly enjoyed the University of Louisville’s session on using the MyMaps feature of Google Maps to add overlays as browse interfaces through which to enter cartographic resources in CONTENTdm.  DLS’s own Wendy Robertson spoke at a presentation about workflows for migrating MARC catalog records to CONTENTdm, which was well received by the audience.

I participated on panels discussing digitizing scrapbooks and yearbooks and using CONTENTdm for art collections, and also brought along Jen Wolfe’s eye-catching poster depicting how DLS handles scrapbooks.  Nicole Saylor served on the conference’s planning committee and Brian Thompson attended the meeting as a way to become more familiar with the system and its community of users.  So, LIT was well represented.

There was even talk of an upper-Midwest CONTENTdm users group getting together later this year.  It’s nice to see this kind of organization, but my hope is that CONTENTdm users can maintain a similar level of activity and working together between meetings, perhaps by blowing the dust off the user group wiki, which can help all levels of implementation make the best use of the system.

One of the most beneficial pieces of the meeting was meeting new people and talking about the different ways in which we’re using the system for digital library activities.  We enjoyed some good food and a great record store in downtown Indianapolis (sorry Jen, never made it to Trader Joe’s), but now it’s back to work.

–Mark F. Anderson
Digital Initiatives Librarian