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August 12, 2011

Hello colleagues,

I hope this update finds you doing well and enjoying the latter part of your summer!  This update is long, but there is a lot to say.  I am always available to meet with you individually or in small groups to demonstrate what we're doing and answer your questions, so just send me a note.

I'll start with a request for your help -- I will be trying to find someone to work full-time or part-time as a Museum Deployment Partner (domain-expert in natural history collections who can work with museums to analyze and document business processes, develop user stories for design and development, draw wireframes, analyze data, map data to schema, coordinate reviews with museum staff, and perform testing).  I would like to find someone already in the museums who would like to try something new and is available to work at least half time.  We could probably even work out something with two people if that makes sense.


The biggest news is that we have launched our first CollectionSpace production system.  UCJEPS is using CollectionSpace for their NSF Digitizing Pacific Coast Seaweeds project, which seeks to capture images and metadata on 300K seaweed specimens in their collections.  Andrew Doran has been extremely helpful in working with us to customize CollectionSpace to meet the needs of this project.

With a huge amount of help from Michael Black, the PAHMA deployment is accelerating quickly.  We have a major demo later in August with Director Salvador and museum staff.  The PAHMA deployment is especially challenging given the complexity of its existing system and the diversity of their holdings (from coins to paleoanthropology).

We are also working on a customized deployment for the History of Art Visual Resource Collection and demonstrated a functioning prototype at a conference at UC Santa Barbara over the summer.  CollectionSpace was also featured in a poster and presentation at this summer's systemwide UCCSC (UC Computing Services Conference 2011) and at the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections conference in May in San Francisco.

John Deck is leading an effort to define the information schema for the Place Authority, which will hold information about localities, including georeferenced info.  Later this fall, we will work with John Wieczorek so that CollectionSpace can take advantage of the services that John and Aaron are building for Biogeomancer (now Geomancer).

All the work we are doing for UCJEPS and PAHMA will feed directly into projects for the Botanical Garden and other BNHM museums. I'm beginning to schedule work for starting up these other deployment projects in the fall.


After many years of service, Susan Stone retired from the Informatics Services team.  We wish Susan all the best -- she will be missed! Over the summer, Leslie Tom,  a masters student from the School of Information, worked with us as an intern and helped with user interface design and customizations.  Yuteh Cheng, a programmer from Survey Research Center and Political Science, has joined us part-time for at least three months. Yuteh is focusing on the data migrations from the existing systems into CollectionSpace.


With the news from CIO Waggener and the CTC that our request for campus funding has been approved, we can now bring on board the additional staff needed for our deployment projects.  This comes at an excellent time, both because we have a lot to do and because CollectionSpace is increasingly ready for us to use.  I will be hiring an Application Programmer 3 and an Application Programmer 4 to help with customizations and data migrations.  If you know programmers who you think can help with this project, please have them get in touch!  The third position we'll be bringing in is the Museum Deployment Partner mentioned above.  I think there are some great opportunities here, so please do think creatively about how we can get the right people working on these important projects.  We need these new team members so we can meet the aggressive deadlines in the IT Bank proposal.

Finally, although we are very focused right now on these deployment projects, we are also thinking about the future.  I think there's another round of NSF ADBC deadlines in the fall.  I would be very interested in talking with people about their ideas for building capabilities related to collections, CollectionSpace, and research computing in general.  

Please get in touch if you have any questions or comments.


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