Maryland's iSchool Announces Formation of New Digital Curation Innovation Center

Maryland's iSchool Announces Formation of New Digital Curation Innovation Center

The University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies, Maryland’s iSchool, is pleased to announce the launch of the Digital Curation Innovation Center (DCIC). The DCIC will use public, industry and government partnerships to foster interdisciplinary digital research and education on issues related to the selection, preservation, maintenance, collection and archiving of digital assets.

Initial research and education projects at the lab include integration of archival primary source research data, user-contributed data and technology to generate new forms of analysis and historical research engagement. These projects establish the parameters of research data in the humanities and scientific disciplines that determine the most cost-effective methods of implementing a cyberinfrastructure for managing and preserving data over its lifecycle. These projects include:

  • “Brown Dog,” a $10.5M CIC Big-10 collaboration (with the NCSA Supercomputing Center at the U. Illinois) supported by a US National Science Foundation Data Infrastructure Building Blocks (DIBBs) award, that makes data in old/obsolete file formats easily accessible to researchers, and accelerates the development of digital curation tools and services. This project also serves as a model for how Big Data infrastructure projects can extend beyond research into widespread, practical use.
  • “Revisiting Segregation Through Computational History: The Case of the WWII Japanese-American Tule Lake Segregation Center.” In collaboration with the National Park Service, the U.S. National Archives, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and King’s College London, the project will investigate and prototype a GIS platform that links people, places, and events from distributed sources.
  • "Mapping Inequality": Partners include Johns Hopkins, Virginia Tech, and the University of Richmond. The project is crowdsourcing a national collection of surveys and maps of neighborhoods for over 150 cities, documenting racial, ethnic, and economic characteristics of residents and potential homebuyers in the 1930s and 1940s.
  • "The Human Face of Crowdsourcing": This is a student- and citizen-led crowdsourcing      project that will create access and collaborative opportunities around historically and socially-significant heterogeneous datasets rooted in urban renewal housing records of the Southside neighborhood in Asheville, NC, a historically African-American community.

Richard Marciano, professor, is the new center’s director and Michael Kurtz, visiting professor, is associate director. Marciano came to the iSchool in 2014 from the University of North Carolina’s School of Information and Library Science, after working at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, and is a noted expert on digital preservation, sustainable archives, cyberinfrastructure and big data. Kurtz, who has been a full-time member of the iSchool’s faculty since 2011, led the implementation of several e-records initiatives while serving as Assistant Archivist for Records Services at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The full DCIC team comprises 18 people, including iSchool staff members Greg Jansen, research software architect, an expert in digital repository and archive design, and Dilip Bharadwaj, graduate research assistant, master's and doctoral students, as well as undergraduate students from across the university and external research affiliates.

"Managing and preserving digital records and other research data is a critical need for the University of Maryland and other research institutions," says Marciano. "Establishing best practices for cyberinfrastructure and management of digital assets enables new avenues of interdisciplinary research and opens new methods of engaging with historical data that illuminate key issues related to human rights and social justice."

The Center will have two research lab components. Marciano will serve as director of the Sustainable Archives and Leveraging Technologies (SALT) Lab, which will focus on research in the areas of digital materials and records collection and preservation. Ricardo Punzalan, assistant professor, will serve as director of the Archives Research and Collaboration (ARC) Lab, which focuses on innovative systems, strategies, and tools to foster sustainable futures for archives, preservation, and digital archives.

New research and educational infrastructure in the Center and iSchool will include: (1) the CurateLab, a media:scape lab for group learning, collaborative design, and hands-on digital curation projects, (2) the DataCave, a peta-scale archival storage and analytics facility powered by NetApp storage and commercial Alloy software from Archive Analytics Solutions for long-term archival storage and preservation, (3) the VirtualFarm, a virtual machine farm at the iSchool for local research data processing and storage, and (4) the VclCloud, an iSchool dashboard-enabled virtual computing lab for creating Windows/Ubuntu instances using Amazon Web Services (AWS).

In addition, the Center will help power two new educational initiatives: (1) the post-master’s Curation and Management of Digital Assets (CMDA) Certificate which starts June 2015, and (2) the Archives and Digital Curation specialization which starts in Fall 2015.

DCIC On UMD Right Now