Category Archives: Uncategorized

Digital Humanities/Scholarship Updates

Survey overview

Last fall we conducted an internal survey of staff to find out what kinds of digital scholarship activities are happening around the Libraries and what kinds of requests folks are getting from faculty, students & staff. The survey has been analyzed and it indicated that a wide range of activities are already happening in the Libraries, but that many scholarly needs are still not being met. This is primarily due to a lack of resources and established workflows.

Jean Fusoris planispheric astrolabe in Putnam Gallery
Jean Fusoris planispheric astrolabe in Putnam Gallery By Sage Ross (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Medievalist metadata workshop

On May 11-12, 2015, UT Libraries will host a CLIR-Mellon-sponsored workshop, “Linking the Middle Ages,” which will pull together an expert group of medieval scholars and librarians. The goals of the workshop are:

  • A clear definition of medievalists’ scholarly and technological needs.
  • A clear definition of the scholarly and technological limits and parameters of what is possible to achieve.
  • Come to an agreement about a set of vocabularies that define basic/essential medieval data fields.
  • Come to an agreement about Linked Data formats and common reference points (e.g. what gazetteers to use), and get feedback on ways to represent those data sets online so that they can be connected to each other via reused APIs.


TxDHC’s “Introduction to OpenRefine” webinar

Jennifer Hecker recently collaborated with Liz Grumbach of Texas A&M University’s Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media and Culture to present the first training webinar in what we hope will become a series coordinated by the newly-formed Texas Digital Humanities Consortium. The session offered an overview of the “tool for working with messy data” and a live demo. If you missed it, check out this blog post, where you can access the slides, sample data set, and a recording of the webcast.


Next DH/DS meetup

If you’re interested in this digital humanities/scholarship stuff, this month’s campus-wide meetup will be from 4-6pm on March 3rd at the Cactus Cafe in the Student Union Building here on campus. Join us!

Writing for the Web

A lot of people are terrified of writing, but here’s what I think: If you can speak, you can write.  This is especially true for the Web.  Some may be better than others, but with the following guidelines and practice, everyone can improve.

Steve Krug, author of the best-selling usability book Don’t Make Me Think, says Web pages should be self-evident, obvious, and self-explanatory.  Users should be able to “get it” without expending a whole lot of cognitive energy.  Most users scan Web pages instead of reading them, anyway.  Even readers with above-average intelligence read only about 20% of text.

So with all that scanning and conservation of mental energy, what do Web users notice?

  • Page layout
  • Navigation features
  • Images
  • Highlighted keywords, such as links
  • Meaningful subheadings
  • Lists

How can you make such features especially noticeable?

  1. Omit needless words.
    Getting rid of unnecessary words reduces the “noise level” of the page, makes the useful content prominent, and makes the pages shorter and scannable.  Not sure where to get started?  Steve Krug likes to say, “Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left.”
  2. Use plain language.
    People prefer to read simple and informal writing online.  So avoid jargon, use familiar words, define acronyms and abbreviations, and use abbreviations sparingly.  Use descriptive words, especially in the first sentence of each paragraph, and use active voice.
  3. Make content meaningful.
    – Group related information and functions.
    – Use descriptive headings and subheadings.  Style them in bold, so they stand out.
    – Ensure that labels clearly reflect the information and items contained within a category.
    – Use bulleted and numbered lists.
    – Leave plenty of whitespace.
  4. Match link names with the page they point to.
    “Click here” is not very descriptive.  A better way to help users understand and use your Web site and its subpages are to clearly label all links.  For example, instead of writing “Click here for a map,” you might write, “For help, view a Campus Map.”

Ultimately, try to think about your audience and what their level of understanding and familiarity might be when they initially encounter your Web page, and let that guide your writing.  Remember, you want your site to be easy to read and easy to understand.

Here are some additional resources you might find helpful:

(For a slide presentation of this post, download the PDF: Writing for the Web, 3.40MB.)

CloudOn – the App

If you have ever wanted to natively edit an MS Word, Excel or PowerPoint document directly from your iOS device, then the free app CloudOn may be your solution.

As its name implies, CloudOn is a cloud computing endeavor.  But this cloud is not for storage.   CloudOn is designed to be a cloud workspace.  CloudOn brings the MS Office trilogy of Word, Excel and PowerPoint directly to your iOS device and links it with the files in your cloud storage accounts on Dropbox, Google Drive and Box.


(Image courtesy of

CloudOn features a built-in Adobe reader for PDF files and its own File Viewer that will let you open and view jpg, png, and gif files.  Sharing documents from within CloudOn is done through e-mail, facebook, twitter, etc., if you have those apps on your iOS device.

Installation is as easy as downloading the CloudOn app then running the step-by-step installer.  After that, select the cloud storage apps with which you wish to link with CloudOn.

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Readability – the App.

Readability the Reader App

Browsing the world of free “reader apps”, I came across Readability. There are pay reader apps out there that do much more and pay reader apps that do much less. But any apps with key functionality and rich user interface design deserve a little more attention – especially when they are free.

Like all things in life, Readability is not going to appeal to everyone, nor is it going to fit everyone’s definition of what the perfect reader app should do. However, if you are looking for a reader app that gives you the ability to download web pages and articles to read offline; and if a clean, crisp, modifiable page layout is important to you; and if it is important to you when the app button says “FREE”, Readability is worth reviewing.

Readability is a “service” delivered via a mobile app and/or a browser add-ons that allows you to organize articles or web pages for reading when you are online or download articles or web pages for reading later when you are offline. According to Readability, they want “to turn any page into a clean comfortable reading view” in order to create a “web designed for readers”.

The basic choices given by Readability are “Read Now” or “Read Later”. Reading now or reading later can both be done online, but Readability lends itself to be used as a tool of leisure reading, a gatherer of sorts, of material to be downloaded and read later when you are offline.


Creating Your Account
A simple registration process is required for you to open an account with Readability. They will send a confirmation e-mail to the address you provide, so be sure to use a working address from which you can respond to this confirmation.


Readability, the signup screen.

(The sign up screen for Readability.)

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TIS performs around 400 AVOICE updates for CBCF

19th Century Black Congress Member Biographies


Sara Snow and Steven Williams, of Technology Integration Services, worked with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in Washington, D.C. to perform close to 400 updates to the AVOICE web site. After adding a new document library, a review of the site content was performed and with many changes of CBCF membership, Congressional Bills, and Congressional Electors, a large number of updates were required. In addition, several documents were moved form one document gallery to another.

New Primeros Libros Web Site Published

A new web site, Primeros Libros, has been developed to provide access to the first books printed in Mexico before 1601. TIS worked with five organizations across two countries to publish the project. The organizations worked together to research, scan, develop meta data guidelines, and build a multi language site to provide researchers around the world with access to these rare materials.  Visit the site for a full list of acknowledgmentsproject agreement, and a video presentation of the release.


US Latino & Latina WWII Oral History Project expands as VOCES

TIS & Library Systems worked with the Latino & Latina WWII Oral History Project to re-band and expand their efforts. The new VOCES Oral History Project now including WWII, Korean War and the Vietnam War. The expansion required changes to the database and site architecture that houses more than 700 oral histories. A thorough meta data review was performed and a re-branding with new logos was provided and implemented on the site.

Architecture and Planning Library Redesign

The Architecture and Planning Library redesign is now complete and moved to production. Many new improvements have been made to the information architecture, design and content integration to improve user interaction and reduce maintenance efforts.

Information architecture improvements include a new site layout which chunks content together logically and allows for easier lateral navigation. A horizontal navigation was created to classify main sections. We are now using active states to highlight the main and subsections a user visits, thus providing context and wayfinding clues. The redesigned home page spotlights new applications we’ve recently developed and allows for more continuity with the main Libraries home page and the recently redesigned Fine Arts Library.


A new design was created to integrate within the Libraries approved secondary template. This design includes a new secondary header throughout the APL site so the user easily recognizes what branch they are in. The header includes a new logo providing the full branch name and includes rotating images representing the library. Colors and graphics for the new design was drawn from collections in the branch. To separate the main content from the surrounding site a new treatment was applied to visually raise the main content and to separate the horizontal navigation by providing a distinct look for easy recognition.

Content integration and reduced maintenance has been improved by adding the site to the Content Management System and integrating Recent Arrivals, APL Highlights, and Hours. The APL Library Branch is the second branch to be integrated and managed in the Libraries’ CMS with PCL being the first. The addition of Recent Arrivals, Highlights and Hours reduce bloat by including only recent content and reduce maintenance by integrating content from the Catalog, Blog, or a central application. APL Highlights is managed through a blog, cached and displayed on the Highlights page and on the branch home page. Hours is also displayed in the branch site but maintained in a central application.

TIS would like to thank the Architecture and Planning Library Staff and Library Systems for their important collaboration.

Fall 2009 Web Author Gathering

We had a nice turnout for the Fall 2009 Web Author Gathering. Thanks to all who came. If you were not able to attend you can review the power point as a linked PDF below. Matt reviewed recently completed projects and soon to be completed projects. I provided an introduction to the benefits of using a javascript framework, what javascript framewark we are using, current ways we are using it, and how Developers and Web Authors can use it. Finaly we touched on Fall cleaning and answered questions.

Web_Author_Gathering_Fall 2009 (PDF)