Presentations (Communicative Events)

Making Software into a Program: Columbia University Libraries' Hyacinth User Group

Ilik, Violeta; Luna Lucero, Brian; Mendenhall, Timothy R.; Wacker, Melanie; Whelan, Alexander J.

This presentation, delivered at the 2019 meeting of the Digital Library Forum, highlights the work of the Hyacinth User Group at Columbia University
Libraries. The group has members from many divisions of the library including Application Development, Cataloging, Digital Collections, Institutional Repository and Digital Conversion. These staff members have come together to administer Hyacinth, Columbia’s metadata and content management application.

This presentation focuses on two case studies that show the value such an administrative group can bring to the shared use of software - implementing relatedness statements and managing controlled vocabularies. In the case of relatedness statements, the group navigated the varied expressions of relatedness required by different library divisions avoiding collisions and blocks to future development. Shared management of controlled vocabularies has required the group to produce robust documentation and develop clear user permissions to prevent alteration of terms as well as a remediation process for safely removing erroneous terms from the system and records.

In the pursuit of these projects, we have seen the vital need for software developers and metadata practitioners to work together. Each has a unique perspective of the problems at hand. The developers have created a powerful tool to organize and publish metadata to numerous websites and digital collections. The Hyacinth User Group has developed the policies and communication flows to ensure the application’s diverse group of users can wield that tool effectively and efficiently.


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October 13, 2019