Child pages
  • Grant Information







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: May 1, 2006 – September 30, 2006


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 May 1, 2006 – September 30, 2006


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 1

Disseminate information on project via conference presentations and other means - ongoing


Information about the project was discussed in presentations at the Association for Recorded Sound Collections annual conference in Seattle in May 2006, and informal discussions with interested parties also took place at a number of other conferences, including the Sakai Conference in Vancouver and the Fedora Users Group meeting in Charlottesville , Virginia in June 2006.


A refereed article was published in the August 2006 Communications of the ACM special issue on music information retrieval that discusses the work of the Variations2 and Variations3 projects:


Jon W. Dunn, Donald Byrd, Mark Notess, Jenn Riley, and Ryan Scherle. “Variations2: retrieving and using music in an academic setting.” Communications of the ACM 49, 8, 2006, pp. 53-58.


Activity 2

Participate in IMLS conferences and workshops - ongoing


There was no activity in this area during the reporting period.


Activity 7

IU staff create metadata records - ongoing


The Variations3 metadata graduate assistant is responsible for the creation of metadata records for the Variations3 project, together with a number of other project metadata duties. The following table summarizes Variations3 metadata records created May 1, 2006-September 30, 2006.



Work records created

Contributor records created

Instantiation records created

May 2006




June 2006




July 2006




August 2006




September 2006




TOTAL for this period





Activity 8 (October-November 2005)

Finalize and establish agreements with four test sites


Three test sites were identified initially: Ohio State University , the New England Conservatory of Music, and the Tri-College Consortium (Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford). Because of difficulties in getting the time of legal reprentatives at both IU and the test sites, these agreements have not yet been completed but a final draft agreement exists and all parties are very near to signing as of October 2006. In addition, the University of Maryland College Park has joined as the fourth test site, and we are very near to signing a Memorandum of Agreement with them as well. We still believe there will be no impact to our original schedule as a result, and testing of version 1 of the Variations3 software will begin this fall at all four sites.


Activity 9 (November-December 2005)

Investigate technical options for open source database and web-based UI


We have investigated MySQL for client systems and have found it to work better in most respects than the existing IBM DB2 database for our purposes. Our phase 1 implementation is using MySQL on the test site servers for everything except the metadata, which will likely remain under DB2 until our phase 2 data model changes.


Investigations into web-based UIs are expected to be covered in the second year of development, based on input collected from the test sites as to its importance, and as a result of delays due to hiring delays (see Activity 3, above).


Activity 10 (November-December 2005)

Visit and conduct interviews at test sites


During summer 2006, we added a fourth test site, the University of Maryland College Park . We visited on September 18 & 19, 2006, giving a demo and meeting with library and IT staff to plan implementation. Maryland is hoping to implement Variations3 by the end of January, 2007 to support at least one course.


Activity 11 (December 2005 – March 2006)

Engage in discussions with subscription services


Two conference calls were held with staff from New World Records and their partner in the Database of Recorded American Music Project (DRAM), New York University .


The first conference call, held on September 13 th provided all participants an opportunity to learn about the goals of both the Variations3 project and the Database of Recorded American Music, and to begin to explore potential avenues for collaboration.


The second call focused on a demonstration of the Variations2 system for staff at New World Records and New York University , and a technical discussion of system architecture and future development goals.


Activity 14 (February-June 2006)

Conduct design and implementation of version 1 system


Although this work had been delayed due to hiring delays (see Activity 3, above), design and implementation of version 1 have been completed and the software is ready to be deployed as of October, 2006.


Activity 15 (March-September 2006)

Develop and conduct preliminary market research for sustainability


There is no new activity in this area since the April 2006 advisory board discussions noted in our last report. This activity will continue this fall and early spring.


Activity 16 (April-July 2006)

Develop implementation plans for each test site


Although this work had been delayed due to hiring delays (see Activity 3, above), test sites have now all received an implementation planning document, and preliminary implementation instructions are in place.


Activity 17 (May-July 2006)

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


During the summer and early fall 2006, we performed a first batch loading of MARC records into a test Variations2 database, investigating an initial set of rules for identifying works on bibliographic records and automatically creating instantiations of these works, activities to this point performed by human catalogers. We are currently reviewing the results of this first test, and plan to perform several other testing iterations to examine the effectiveness of more aggressive and more conservative rules for work identification, before deciding on a final set of MARC mapping rules that will enable us to process as many records as possible in an automated manner.


We have completed an initial review of forty potential sources of music metadata from outside of the library community, analyzing their particular strengths and which types of Variations3 records the information they contain could be mapped to. The metadata team has done an initial sorting of these sources into those that are capable of automated searching and capture of metadata and those that only have a human interface. Several data sources appear promising, including MusicBrainz < >, < >, and FreeDB < >. Final decisions on which sources to initially focus on and data mapping specifications have been delayed due to the need for developers to focus during this time on releasing the first version of the Variations3 software to test sites.


Activity 18 (June-September 2006)

Develop specs for integration with DRAM for version 2


Preliminary discussions recognize that due to the fact that DRAM utilizes quicktime streaming the integration of DRAM content streamed through the Variations2 player may be possible without a great deal of programming. It is hoped that a test to do a proof of concept can be be accomplished soon. Demo access to Indiana ’s system was made available to DRAM staff members.


Activity 19 (July-August 2006)

Conduct systems testing for version 1


System testing has proceeded during September-October 2006. Two rounds of preliminary testing are complete, giving us confidence that the system is ready for initial distribution.


Activity 20 (July-August 2006)

Conduct usability testing for version 1


Usability testing will be conducted on the software installation process, but the testing has been deferred until November, 2006.


Activity 21 (July-August 2006)

Purchase and configure servers for test sites


Several server configurations have been specified and quotes obtained. System purchasing is dependent upon receiving signed memoranda of agreement from test sites—this is in process and should occur soon.


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 23 (August-September 2006)

Visit test sites to install servers and conduct training


As soon as agreements are signed, this step will proceed, although installation will be done primarily by the test sites themselves, with phone, online, and in-person support and training from IU staff as needed.


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

October 31, 2006