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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: October 1, 2006 – March 31, 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 October 1, 2006 – March 31, 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 9 (November-December 2005)

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


Our phase 1 implementation, initially intended to make partial use of MySql on the test site servers, but to keep the metadata on DB2 database at IU. However, we were able to completely migrate the test sites to a fully MySql based system in phase 1.


We have conducted significant investigations into Web-based user interfaces for the search and cataloging functionality, including prototyping and technology selection (Java Struts).


Activity 15 (March-September 2006)

Develop and conduct preliminary market research for sustainability


This activity has been deferred pending feedback from existing test sites and further discussion at an Advisory Board Meeting in May 2007.


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, the Variations3 metadata team completed our analysis of the results from a first experiment batch loading Variations3 records from MARC bibliographic records. We used the results of that analysis to define a set of changes to the mapping logic, and delivered specifications for a second batch loading experiment to the development team. The development team is currently implementing those specifications, and we expect to have results analyzed in the next grant reporting period.


Final decisions on additional sources of metadata and data mapping specifications for these sources have been delayed due to the need for developers to focus during this reporting period 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


We worked with New World Records to prototype Database of Recorded American Music (DRAM) integration and were able to stream DRAM audio using our audio player and even the playlist player. We have had some success with integrated authentication. However, work with DRAM has gone slowly, in part due to organizational changes between DRAM and NYU. Remaining work to be done includes working with DRAM to understand how their metadata will be made available and deciding how we will handle it within Variations.


Activity 20 (July-August 2006)

Conduct usability testing for version 1


Our focus for version 1 user testing was installation and configuration. This was appropriate as the end-user interface was essentially unchanged from earlier versions. User testing was conducted with several participants performing a complete installation and configuration of Variations phase 1. As a result of the user testing, the documentation and process were significantly improved.


Activity 21 (July-August 2006)

Purchase and configure servers for test sites


As of the end of the reporting period, servers were ordered for and delivered to two test sites: Haverford College (Tri-College Consortium) and the University of Maryland. Discussions are underway with New England Conservatory and Ohio State University regarding server configurations.


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 of the end of the reporting period, none of the test sites were yet up and running. As noted above, two are still awaiting servers due to delays in signing the Memorandum of Agreement. We have repeatedly offered to visit the two test sites who do have servers, but sites have preferred to work on their own. Mark Notess visited one test site (Tri-Colleges) because he was in the vicinity. We have set up a support listserv and have kept sites informed of new versions of the software. We have also held phone conferences with each test site to determine whether we can help speed their implementation of Variations.


Activity 24

Disseminate preliminary project results via conference presentations and other means


A project web site has been created at .


Philip Ponella presented an update on the Variations3/DRAM partnership at the DRAM open forum at the Music Library Association/Society for American Music annual meeting in Pittsburgh, PA, February, 2007.


At the request of the group planning, ENOMA: European Network of Online Musical Archives , a grant application to the European Union, Philip Ponella demonstrated the Variations system and discussed the Variations3 grant in March in Bergen, Norway, March 2007.


Activity 25

Participate in IMLS conferences and workshops – ongoing


In March, Jon Dunn attended Web-Wise 2007 in Washington, DC and gave a demonstration of the Variations3 system, which seemed to generate a lot of interest from attendees.


Activity 27 (October-December 2006)

Develop set of sustainability models


This activity has been deferred pending feedback from existing test sites and further discussion at an Advisory Board Meeting in May 2007.


Activity 28 (October 2006 – January 2007)

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


As version 1 of the software is not yet in operation at the test sites, this activity has been pushed back into the next grant reporting period.


Activity 29 (October 2006 – September 2007)

IU and test sites create metadata records


The IU Variations3 metadata graduate assistant focused during this grant period on preparing cataloging guidelines for the test sites, and therefore did not create any metadata records during this reporting period. Test sites did not yet have the Variations3 system in operation during this reporting period, so they did not create any metadata records during this time.


Activity 30 (October-November 2006)

Complete high-level planning for version 2


Planning for version 2, delayed by the delay in version 1, has proceeding during Spring of 2007. We determined the high level objectives to be support of cooperative cataloging, separation of discovery from the use tools, and movement of the backend technology to a more modern XML technology base. Work on all these objectives is ongoing.


Activity 31 (October 2006 – September 2007)

Support of test sites


All test site questions are promptly answered. However, test site progress has been very slow due at least in part to IT priorities at the test sites.


Activity 32 (October 2006 – September 2007)

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


Test sites have not made much progress (see above), although they do all plan to accomplish this shortly in order to conduct


Activity 33 (December 2006 – January 2007)

Complete requirements analysis for version 2


Detailed requirements have not yet been written for version 2, due to earlier delays in the project and the lack of meaningful feedback from the test sites. Version 2 investigations are ongoing and will result in completion of the requirements analysis.


Activity 34 (January-July 2007)

Solicit input from relevant communities re. sustainability models


This activity has been deferred pending feedback from existing test sites and further discussion at an Advisory Board Meeting in May 2007.


Activity 35 (January-May 2007)

Visit test sites to observe use and gather feedback


Deferred until test sites make sufficient progress.


Activity 36 (February-September 2007)

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


The Variations3 metadata team has created 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. We will implement some form of user-contributed metadata support as development time allows.


Activity 37 (February-June 2007)

Conduct design and implementation of version 2


Will occur once investigations and requirements analysis are completed.


Activity 38 (March-September 2007)

Develop specs for integration with additional subscription services for version 3


Following discussions with representatives from the Database of Recorded American Music - DRAM (New World Records/New York University) a test was conducted during February of 2007. The concept was proven when DRAM content was streamed from their remote servers to staff in Indiana via the Variations player.


Discussions were held with a representative from Alexander Street Press regarding integration of Classical Music Library. Initial discussions did not yield any immediate opportunities.

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

July 5, 2007