TDL Update Newsletter, April 2008

DSpace 1.5 Released

A new version of DSpace was released on March 25, v. 1.5 The release provides a wealth of new features and upgrades, among them the inclusion of the Manakin framework as the default DSpace interface. Other features include modular exclusion or inclusion of projects, improved scalability, and the accommodation of accented characters in the repository’s browse interface. For more information on the release, please visit

TDL Presentations at Open Repositories 2008

The Open Repositories 2008 conference was held on April 1-4 in Southampton, England. TDL co-directors Mark McFarland and John Leggett participated in the planning and organization as members of the conference program committee. At the conference, Jay Paz, TDL programmer, presented “Manakin: Lessons Learned,” a paper co-authored by Scott Phillips, James Creel, Cody Green, Yixuan Li, Alexey Maslov, Philip Mattingly, Adam Mikeal, Jay Paz, John Leggett and Mark McFarland. Scott Phillips, TDL research and programming coordinator, presented “DSpace 1.5 Launch, and DSpace Future” as part of the DSpace users group program. Conference presentations are available at .

Texas Conference on Digital Libraries Call for Papers, Hotel Information, Registration Available

The call for papers to be presented at the Texas Conference on Digital Libraries (TCDL) is now available. The due date for abstracts is April 15, 2008.

In addition, hotel information for conference attendees has been posted, and registration for the conference is now open. Final program details will be announced in May.

TDL Web Site Redesign Coming

The TDL web presence is being updated to provide greater ease of access to the growing number of TDL services. TDL staff will soon be rolling out a new design for the TDL Web site that includes improved navigation, updated information, and a new look and feel. In addition, the redesign includes more consistent layout and navigation across the various TDL web applications, to make it easier and more intuitive to move between them. Through the spring and summer as each of the existing services are upgraded and new services are brought up, they will be moved to the new design.

TDL Blogs Service Updated

The TDL’s scholarly blogs service recently received a facelift and version upgrade. As part of the move toward a more consistent TDL web interface, the blogs look and feel has been updated to match that of the new TDL web site, adding a more consistent navigation experience among other features. Also upgraded was the software which powers the blogs, WordPress; the latest software version was installed to provide new user functionality, particularly in the area of security.

CIO Advisory Board Meets

The membership of the TDL’s CIO Advisory Board has been finalized, with the group comprised of:

  • Pierce Cantrell, co-chair, Texas A&M University
  • Dennis Fouty, University of Houston
  • Maurice Leatherbury, University of North Texas
  • Patti Orr, Baylor University
  • Brian Roberts, co-chair, University of Texas at Austin
  • Sam Segran, Texas Tech University
  • Van Wyatt, Texas State University

The group’s charge is to provide input on issues and directions in information technology within higher education. Its first meeting was held on March 18 in Houston, in conjunction with a meeting of the Lonestar Education and Research Network (LEARN) board. TDL co-director John Leggett presented an update on TDL projects, including the Shibboleth federation, the Thesis and Dissertation Submittal System, and hosting institutional repositories for members.

Thesis and Dissertation Submittal System Undergoing Testing

The Thesis and Dissertation Submittal System (formerly the ETD Common Submission System) recently passed its usability tests with flying colors! A group of twelve graduate students from various disciplines, including non-native English speakers, were asked to use the system to submit an electronic thesis and then to answer a series of questions on their experience. The response was very positive, and changes are already underway to refine the system in response to the valuable user feedback.

TDL Shibboleth Federation: An Interview with Philip Mattingly

Philip Mattingly, TDL Systems and Technical Coordinator, is in charge of maintaining the TDL Shibboleth Federation. This work includes updating the metadata for the federation and organizing and identifying attributes for use by TDL web applications, such as the TDL repository and journals service. As Mattingly describes it, “Shibboleth is a great advancement for TDL because … [i]t eliminates the need to verify and maintain a massive directory of users across Texas; that sort of identification management is extremely difficult to keep up. With Shibboleth, we are able to leverage the management effort of all the [TDL] participating institutions.”

Because each of the TDL’s array of repository and scholarly publishing services allows interactions with users from academic institutions both within and outside the state of Texas, the TDL’s identity and authentication solution needed to be able to coordinate information from many different sources. Shibboleth is an ideal tool for this task, and the TDL created its Shibboleth federation in 2007. It provides a federated identity system, comprised of several contributors. When a user attempts to authenticate to a TDL service, his authentication information is first presented to the academic institution with which he is affiliated. Once the information is verified, Shibboleth will relay the person’s identity data to TDL service and grant the user access as appropriate.

Though the Shibboleth Federation has been operating for less than a year, it is growing quickly. It began with the participation of only two academic institutions but now has affiliations with seven. According to Mattingly, the TDL is actively working on adding more universities to the Shibboleth federation. However, participation depends on the ability of each institution to take part in the verification process, which is reliant upon an institutional identity management system and a central authentication system.

Additionally, the TDL Shibboleth Federation has a huge potential for growth beyond universities. Mattingly and those involved with Shibboleth have discussed the potential for it to be run by a statewide organization to collaborate with other Shibboleth efforts in the state. For now, the Shibboleth Federation remains a successful component of TDL. “Simply put, TDL is able to use Shibboleth to provide scholarly services to the faculty of Texas,” Mattingly said.

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