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Variations3: An Integrated Digital Library and Learning System
for the Music Community


IMLS National Leadership Grant Interim Performance Report







Award Number: LG-05-05-0209-05


Institution Name: Indiana University


Report Type: Interim Performance Report


Period Covered by Report: April 1, 2007 – September 30, 2007


Project Director: Jon W. Dunn

Associate Director for Technology

Indiana University Digital Library Program

(812) 855-0953

Variations3: An Integrated Digital Library and Learning System for the Music Community

Indiana University Digital Library Program

IMLS National Leadership Grant

Interim Performance Report for Period April 1, 2007 – September 30, 2007


1. Project Purpose


The purpose of the Variations3 project is to create a digital music library and learning system that can be easily deployed at a wide range of college and university libraries with minimal technical support and minimal cost to the institutions. By offering a complete environment in which students and faculty can discover, listen to, view, annotate, and interact with music, this system will integrate access to online recordings and scores into teaching, learning, and research activities. The project builds on Indiana University’s successful history in digital music library development (Variations2) and responds to the keen desire of music libraries large and small to operate similar systems.


2. Project Activities


Activity 15 (March-September 2006)

Develop and conduct preliminary market research for sustainability


Based on advice by our Advisory Board members at the April 2007 meeting, we have not yet conducted any formal market research on sustainability issues, but rather have focused on establishing a demonstration version of the system that potential users can try out over the Internet and on getting to a point where we can publicly release a preliminary version of the system as open source.


We received several informal contacts from institutions beyond the current four test sites that are potentially interested in using the system.


Activity 17 (May-July 2006)

Develop requirements for enhanced MARC import and import of data from other sources for version 2


During this reporting period, we continued work on this task, as it has become an iterative activity rather than a contained one. In the last reporting period, we performed a first “batch load” of MARC records and defined a set of specifications for a second iteration. In this reporting period, we analyzed results from the second experiment, and further refined the MARC mapping rules for a third experiment. At the end of this reporting period, we were in the process of changing our documentation for the MARC mapping activities to stand alone, rather than rely on an existing code base. We expect to perform at least one more iteration of the batch loading experiment, and release our final MARC mapping algorithm before the official end of the project in September 2008.


In addition to the MARC mapping, the Variations3 team set up a workflow for automatically searching and retrieving records from the MusicBrainz < > service, and performed a first iteration of an experiment to automatically create Variations3 metadata from this service. Our initial results appear most encouraging in cases where the MARC record analysis is performing the most poorly, for example, a popular CD with a performer, no known composers, and one work per CD track. We expect to perform at least one more iteration of the MusicBrainz experiment, and release our findings in a report before the official end of the project in September 2008.


Activity 21 (July-August 2006)

Purchase and configure servers for test sites


As of the end of this reporting period, all four test sites have signed Memoranda of Agreement with Indiana University and have servers in place on site. All sites are working on putting these servers into production for pilot tests during the spring 2008 semester/quarter.


Activity 22 (August-September 2006)

Develop requirements for technical and administrative metadata for version 2


This activity has been slightly de-prioritized due to overall project delays. We expect to move this activity to a time slightly before implementation of these requirements will be scheduled, and coordinate it with improvements in technical and administrative metadata management in our larger digital library infrastructure.


Activity 24 (ongoing)

Disseminate preliminary project results via conference presentations and other means


No formal presentations or publications were completed during this reporting period, but informal conversations took place with music librarians, archivists, and researchers at the Association for Recorded Sound Collections conference in May and at other conferences.


Activity 25 (ongoing)

Participate in IMLS conferences and workshops


No activity during this reporting period.


Activity 27 (October-December 2006)

Develop set of sustainability models


No activity during this reporting period. See activity 15, above.


Activity 28 (October 2006 – January 2007)

Evaluate metadata features implemented in version 1; develop additional input for version 2 requirements


During this reporting period, the Variations3 team performed an in-depth analysis of the application of FRBR to the Variations metadata model, which can be found at < >. Based on this work, the project team concluded that the best path forward for the Variations metadata model is to perform a complete re-architecting in the FRBR environment, rather than to make incremental changes. Due to the scope of this work, it will not be possible to implement as part of the Variations3 system. We will instead spend the remainder of our time in this area writing specifications and planning for making this move in the future.


Activity 29 (October 2006 – September 2007)

IU and test sites create metadata records


The Variations software was not running in production at any test site by the end of this reporting period, so no test site has yet created Variations3 metadata records. The following records were created at IU during the reporting period:














































Activity 31 (October 2006 – September 2007)

Support of test sites


Three of the four test sites now have the Variations3system up and running. A visit to Ohio State assisted with their implementation. We also visited the New England Conservatory but are still in the process of helping them to get their installation running.


Activity 32 (October 2006 – September 2007)

Test sites load content into system, create metadata records, and provide access to users


Three of the four test sites have loaded some content on their systems, creating the minimal records necessary for the system to function. All sites are planning to run pilot projects in Spring semester/quarter 2008.


Activity 33 (December 2006 – January 2007)

Complete requirements analysis for version 2


Phase two architectural requirements have been refined and investigations are progressing. The main requirements are to provide a web-based client and to separate the discovery tools from the use tools.


Activity 34 (January-July 2007)

Solicit input from relevant communities re. sustainability models


See activity 15, above.


Activity 35 (January-May 2007)

Visit test sites to observe use and gather feedback


Visits to test sites have mainly supported implementation. Feedback and observations of use will take place as pilot projects begin with courses in Spring 2008.


Activity 36 (February-September 2007)

Develop model for handling user-contributed metadata and continue to improve definitions for metadata import for version 3


This work has been slightly de-prioritized due to our heavy emphasis on moving the Variations data model towards a more FRBRized approach. In the previous reporting period, we developed an initial sorting of fields in our data model into those that are likely to receive good input from users and those that are not, and indicated which fields would need human review and which could receive only machine validation. During the current reporting period, we concluded that to encourage users to provide metadata for the Variations3 system, we would need to redesign our delivery interface to make this metadata more prominent. We considered this activity in our development plan, and ultimately decided it was a low priority.


Activity 37 (February-June 2007)

Conduct design and implementation of version 2


Further investigations and prototyping into Web UI technologies have continued. Phase 2 release is planned for Summer 2008. We have also created and prepared for open-source release a standalone version of the audio timeline tool, in which there is great interest from multiple institutions.


Activity 38 (March-September 2007)

Develop specs for integration with additional subscription services for version 3


No new progress to report during this reporting period.


Activity 39 (July-August 2007)

Conduct systems testing for version 2


Systems testing will occur late Spring/early summer 2008.


Activity 40 (July-August 2007)

Conduct usability testing for version 2


Usability testing will occur Spring 2008.


Activity 41 (August-September 2007)

Develop sustainability plan


See activity 15, above.


Activity 42 (August-September 2007)

Obtain outside feedback on Variations2 data model


During this reporting period, the Variations3 team performed an in-depth analysis of the application of FRBR to the Variations metadata model, which can be found at < >. We publicized this report widely, including to our Advisory Board, and received a number of helpful comments and suggestions on our conclusions and the utility of our plans to move towards a fully FRBR-compliant metadata model.


Activity 44 (August-September 2007)

Test sites install version 2


Test sites will use version 1 for pilot tests during Spring 2008 and will install version 2 during Summer 2008.


Activity 45 (September 2007)

Visit by test site staff to IU for training on version 2 and input on version 3 requirements


Test site visits during Spring 2008 will provide input into version 3 requirements.




In submitting this report, I certify that all of the information is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.


Name and title of the person submitting the report and date of submission:


Jon Dunn,

Associate Director for Technology, Indiana University Digital Library Program

January 16, 2008