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

Indiana University Digital Library Program

IMLS National Leadership Grant LG-05-05-0209-05

Interim Performance Report for Period April October 1, 2008 – March 31, 2009


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 17 (May-July 2006)

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


Work on improving batch loading records into Variations from MARC continued during this reporting period. Earlier rounds of experiments focused solely identifying Works, but in this reporting period, we expanded beyond work identification to include full mapping of data into Instantiation, Container, and Creator records, and add more robust reporting functionality to the experiment output. This iteration of the experiment began in the fall of 2008, with a new Work identification algorithm based on the prior iteration of the experiment’s outcome. During this reporting period, we executed the first phase of the new experiment, creating Contributor records from bibliographic records when no match is found in the Variations system or the OCLC authority file. Analysis of a sample of created Creator records from this step resulted in two planned changes to the Creator record creation algorithm. Generation of further reports for analysis (of Works, Instantiations, and Containers) is ongoing in late spring and early summer 2009, with a goal of completing by June 2009.


The Variations3 metadata team publicly released a version of our batch loading algorithm in December 2008. It may be found at < >.


Activity 38 (March-September 2007)

Develop specs for integration with additional subscription services for version 3


Technical work for integration of DRAM (Database of Recorded American Music) content is complete. We plan to deploy DRAM access at Indiana University and include DRAM support as part of our next Variations open source release later this summer.


Activity 48 (October 2007-December 2007)

Solicit additional input from community re. sustainability plan


In January 2009, the Variations3 team at IU conducted conference calls with representatives of our four test sites to obtain their feedback on possible directions forward for governance and support of the Variations digital library system. In February 2009, Jon Dunn attended the IMLS WebWise conference in Washington, DC, and had additional conversations with prospective institutions interested in implementing Variations about possible models for funding/supporting ongoing development and support services.


IU conducted a webinar on the Variations open source release on March 4, 2009, which attracted 90+ attendees from 80+ institutions: < >  As part of the webinar, we outlined possible support options and governance models and followed up with a survey asking the webinar participants for additional feedback.


We continue to evaluate what we have learned so far from these discussions and to solicit additional feedback from potential implementers and stakeholders at IU.


Activity 50 (October 2007-September 2008)

IU and test sites create metadata records


The following Variations3 metadata records were created at IU during this reporting period:











































The Variations3 project metadata graduate assistant left Indiana University in December 2008. We expect we will not create any more Variations metadata records as part of the current funded project.


Activity 52 (October 2007 – September 2008)

Support of test sites


Test site support has continued as needed.


Activity 53 (October 2007 – September 2008)

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


All four test sites (Ohio State University, New England Conservatory of Music, Tri-College Consortium, and University of Maryland) have loaded content, created records and provided access to users.


Activity 54 (December 2007 – January 2008)

Conduct requirements analysis for version 3


In Fall 2008, we solicited interest from additional institutions who might want to participate in a pilot test of a “partially hosted” model for Variations in which IU hosts the applications server while the remote institution hosts its own streaming server and content files, simplifying the installation and administration of Variations. We received four positive responses, and are up and running with one institution using this model – the University of Miami. Requirements analysis during this period focused on the needs of the partially hosted partners.


Activity 55 (January 2008 – February 2008)

Develop final sustainability plan


See Activity 48, above.


Activity 56 (January 2008 – May 2008)

Visits by IU staff to test sites for observations of use


No visits were conducted during this reporting period.


Activity 58 (October 2007 – September 2008)

Obtain consulting services


No consulting services were used during this reporting period.


Activity 59 (February 2008 – June 2008)

Conduct design and implementation of version 3


The work to support partially hosted partners was completed during this reporting period.


Activity 60 (April 2008 – September 2008)

Disseminate project results via conference presentations and other means


The complete Variations digital music library system was released as open source software under a BSD-style license in early March 2009 at . This release was promoted with a press release sent out to relevant mailing lists (such as MLA-L and DIGLIB) and news organizations (e.g. Campus Technology: ).


The Variations3 team conducted a webinar on March 4, 2009 attended by over 90+ individuals representing 80+ institutions to promote and discuss the open source release. Recording and slides are available at .


Conference presentations:


Dunn, Jon W., Mark Notess, and Phil Ponella. “Streaming Music for Teaching and Learning: A Hands-On Introduction to Variations.” Pre-conference seminar, EDUCAUSE 2008 Annual Conference, Orlando, Florida, October 2008.


Ponella, Phil. “The Variations Digital Music Library: Creating a New Digital Model for Live Performance Recording and Delivery.” Music Library Association Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois, February 2009.



Riley, Jenn, Casey Mullin, and Caitlin Hunter. “Automatically Batch Loading Metadata from MARC into a Work-Based Metadata Model for Music.” Accepted for publication in Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 47, no. 6. In press.


Activity 61 (March 2008 – September 2008)

Implement sustainability plan


See Activity 48, above.


Activity 62 (July 2008 – August 2008)

Conduct systems testing for version 3


The “partially-hosted” partner solution (see Activity 54, aboive) and the browser-based audio player were tested and deployed.


Activity 63 (July 2008 – August 2008)

Conduct usability testing for version 3


No formal usability testing was conducted during this reporting period.


Activity 64 (July 2008)

Visit by test site staff to IU for discussion of sustainability plan and final evaluation


Rather than host a physical meeting at IU, telephone conference calls were conducted with each test site in January 2009 (see Activity 48, above).


Activity 65 (August 2008 – September 2008)

Develop final report


To be completed in October 2009, after the no-cost extension period ends on September 30, 2009.


Activity 66 (August 2008 – September 2008)

Test sites install version 3


Most test sites upgraded to Variations version 5.0.5 during this reporting period.





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 W. Dunn

Associate Director for Technology, Digital Library Program

May 7, 2009