Public Web Typography Refresh

In September 2019, Digital Strategies implemented a typography refresh for all Vanderbilt websites, introducing improvements such as larger, simpler fonts and increased content area width in order to stay current with modern web trends.

On Tuesday, January 21 LTDS will apply these changes to the Libraries’ public website. In addition to the changes provided by this refresh, we’ve taken the opportunity to refine certain page elements, such as the right sidebar you see on the Heard and division homepages. Here are a couple of preview shots:

Screenshot of Heard Libraries homepage

Screenshot of Central Library homepage

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or comments.

Recent Improvements to Television News Archive search

The Vanderbilt Television News Archive has been recording, preserving, and providing access to television news broadcasts of the national networks since August 5, 1968. There are currently over 1.1 million broadcast records in the system, and all are searchable via the VTNA website.

In recent years, a persistent theme in user feedback has been slow search result retrieval times, which impedes a user’s ability to conduct research and find the information they need, leading to a frustrating experience. Recently, we were able to improve the architecture of the search portion of the website. By querying a different data set and utilizing search indexes, we were able to improve search result retrieval times for the majority of searches. In most cases, retrieval time has been reduced by roughly 70%, sometimes more! We were also able to improve the relevancy ranking sort option, helping users find relevant broadcast clips faster.

The Television News Archive website is one of many systems the LTDS team supports.

Alma: Notifications Widget

In order to keep up with important information related directly with Alma, it is vital you have the “Notifications” widget installed on your Alma dashboard. To do this, log into Alma. Then, click on the + sign over to the right of your name:

It will bring up a new window, asking you which widgets you would like to install:

Click the box next to “Notifications”:

Then click the “x” in the top right corner of the “Manage Widgets” box to close it:

Then voila! You are receiving notifications:

This box will be used for informing the staff of important updates, enhancements, down time, OCLC issues, anything that might relate to Alma. Please install this widget in order to stay informed. Thank you!

Your friendly neighborhood LTDS

What has LTDS been doing the week of 8/31-9/6

Alma/Primo (Jamen, Nancy, Tao)
* Replaced Alumni IDs with Alt-IDs (from Sirsi)
* Continued to work on clean-up projects including the duplicate charges
* Configure Sandbox access
* Continue working on notification letters

Desktop/Application support (Judy, Matt, Nancy, Jamen)
* Deployed a few new laptops
* Processed new and released ETD’s/troubleshoot ETD’s
* Ordered equipment, computers and software
* Troubleshooting hardware issues
* Worked with VUIT on increasing resources to improve performance

Digital Collections (Nathan, Judy, Scott)
* DIL got up to full speed with a working plan for scanning
* Continued to upload items into the system
* Scanned items for upcoming Divinity exhibit
* Created book batches to prepare items for ingest
* Ingesting ESSSS scans & troubleshooting

Web/Web applications (Jodie, Jamen, Matt)
* Drafted document detailing the election process for Library Advisory Council
* Resolved several issues with the commodore-r-group repo/website in Github
* Renewed & installed SSL certificates
* Setting up “From the Director’s Chair” box on Biomedical home page
* Continued cleaning up formatting issues
* Implemented accessibility improvements on Heard and division home pages

Other (all):
* Triage inform tickets
* Alumni access issues
* Answering Libanswers related to Alma/Library Catalog
* Training of LTDS Student Assistants
* Calibrate and test 3D printer upgrade
* Begin adding LogMeIn and local accounts to podium computers

Inform tickets resolved through Thursday:

Library website: now with more error checking

Yesterday morning, we received several reports that the library website wasn’t functioning properly — there were missing menus and scary error messages. No one on our team had made any changes to the site, though — so what happened?

Well, over in another part of the university, the server that hosts the university calendar system went offline. The library website pulls our events lists from this system every time you visit a library homepage. So, when the library website tried to find the events lists, there was nothing there…so the library website said, STOP! I cannot do anything else until I find the events! (not unlike my 2-year-old kid 😅), and it stopped loading the page midway-through.

Once we identified the issue, we removed all events boxes as a temporary measure. Later in the day, we were able to put in a code fix that tells the library website to keep on going, even if it doesn’t find any events. (Ditto Recent Library News items, which pulls from the Library News Online site.)

Even better, we were able to share our solution with the university’s web department, who then implemented the fix in the main university website. More stable sites for all!

What’s New in the Digital Imaging Laboratory

Successful digitization results in a digital image that best depicts the physical item being digitized as accurately as possible. To ensure truthful color reproduction, color values must be matched to a known target.

Library Technology and Digital Services recently acquired X-rite’s ColorChecker, color reference targets, and camera calibration software for use in the Digital Imaging Laboratory. A digital image of the ColorChecker’s reference target is captured by each digital camera in the laboratory. These images are uploaded in ColorChecker’s software to create a DNG file. The DNG file is used to create a color profile. The color profile is then used across the lab’s image editing software to calibrate or recalibrate the color values of images created by the laboratory’s cameras.

The following samples from Le Vingtieme Siecle illustrate a digital image before color calibration and after color calibration.



It is easy to discern the difference in color values. The color values of the bottom image best match the color values of the actual page.The ability to ensure color accuracy is vital to any digitization project.

What happens with my links to books and searches in Alma?

I have links to books and searches in Acorn.  What happens when we migrate from Acorn and DiscoverLibrary?

Many people have created links using the options available at to use in training materials as well as permalinks from DiscoverLibrary and to FindIt@VU (SFX) resources.  LTDS has created several redirects that will allow these links to continue to work after we go live with Alma/Primo.    We believe that these redirects will handle the majority of links to resources.  However,  if you encounter a broken link please submit an INFORM and we can review the issue.

We have attempted to simulate the type of links in the new system.  A full list of the current type of redirects is available at .  Please let me know if you have any questions about the type of redirected searches or if we have missed any links.


Technical Freeze Starts This Weekend – So What Can I Do??

What is going to happen this weekend? What will I be able to do? What can be done during the Technical Services freeze? These are all valid and reasonable questions, which I will try to address in this post. No fear, though – you will still be able to work!

Starting this weekend (June 22/23), as soon as Mary Ellen completes the fiscal year roll over (after which she will notify myself), I will launch several scripts on the Acorn server in order to do the full extract of our Symphony data. This is a server-load intensive process and requires several hours of work, during which time Workflows/Acorn will be impacted. You may see slowness. You may have difficulty logging into Workflows. Acorn (web catalog) may be down. DiscoverLibrary will only be impacted if it has trouble picking up the Real-Time Availability information from Symphony, but searching should be fine. My Account feature may also be impacted. But please be patient. We have to do this because Ex Libris needs the data no later than Wednesday, June 27; but our goal is to get the extract done by Monday, June 25, so we can review the data for any errors.

In addition to Acorn, we also need to provide Ex Libris a full extract of our SFX and Verde data. Those processes do not take too long to complete and since they are on separate servers, will not have a huge impact on library services.

But Symphony is a different beast. You may wonder why it takes so long. This is because not only are we extracting all of the data (which, by the way, are millions of records), but we also have to modify some of the data in order to meet Ex Libris’s data requirements (specifically, the Invoices and Orders). This is where it gets tricky, which is why we want a day or two in order to review the data to make sure it is as accurate as we can get it before sending it off. We know from experience that we cannot always depend on the scripts to run correctly all of the time, so we need to be able to re-run the scripts if it obvious there was a problem.

During this time, we specifically request that no large reports be ran because that will slow the process down even further. If it is apparent that a report is running and it taking longer than normal, I will kill the report which means you will need to re-run it once the extract completes. We want to get this done as quickly and as efficiently as possible. In order to do that, we need to minimize the number of processes running on the server, which includes reports.

Once the extract is complete, everything should return to normal. However, if you modify a bibliographic record, add an item record, pay an invoice or any other Technical Services activity after the extract completes, that data will be LOST because we will not be doing another extract of our entire system. On July 18, there will be a Circulation Freeze after which we will need to use Alma’s Offline Circulation Utility for circulation transactions. This means all functions within Symphony should be discontinued. At this time, I will extract patrons, loans, and holds from Symphony and send to Ex Libris. And on July 20, we go live with Alma.

Between June 22 and July 20, you can still use Symphony for running reports, as long as they are read-only reports (not writing). This would be a good time for any statistical data you need to gather. You could also be looking for problems that are currently in Symphony (problem records, diacritics, etc.) and make note of these so that at Go Live, you have a list of items you can check to see if they are any better. You can also compare with our Alma instance at that time to see how the data looks. Alma will be available during most of this time until Ex Libris copies over the data, so you can continue testing and training and honing your skills. This would also be a good time to go through the various training modules available from Ex Libris (, especially if you are unclear on how to do something, so there is plenty of work to be done.

We are trying to make this as painless as possible, but take a deep breath. Learn. Live. Laugh – and have fun. We are all in this together!

Zip File Importer for Islandora Now Available

Step by step instructions are now available for ingesting ZIP files into Vanderbilt’s Digital Collections, the central access point for the Vanderbilt Libraries’ digitized special collections.  Instructions can be found here. You must be logged in to access the link.

Additional updates and changes are in store for Digital Collections in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned!