May 2023

Scholars Portal Newsletter

In This Issue:

Confused by an acronym? Check out the OCUL Acronym Glossary. If there’s something we’re missing, you can email to suggest an addition!


What’s New at Scholars Portal?

  • Join us in welcoming Anugra Shah as our new GIS/Data Programmer Analyst!
  • Recordings from Scholars Portal Days are available on the Scholars Portal YouTube channel, and slides are available on SPOTDocs.
  • The Scholars Portal Annual Report for 2022-2023 is available to download from the OCUL website.
  • The ODESI migration and front-end catalogue redevelopment team has worked to ensure all data and metadata from Odesi is fully migrated to a test instance of Borealis, which has involved tackling many compatibility gaps between the systems. We also addressed metadata quality during the migration to support discoverability and enable enhanced filters for searching and browsing. A beta release of the new Odesi search site is coming, but you can take a sneak peek at the beta site now!
  • OCLC’s VDX, the software RACER is built on, will reach end-of-life in mid-2024 and Scholars Portal plans to sunset RACER in spring 2024. OCUL and Scholars Portal will coordinate the transition of members away from VDX between now and spring 2024. As RACER loans can last for up to 12 weeks, it is necessary that most new loans are happening outside of RACER by January 2024. Visit RACER Sunsetting Documentation for details on these milestones, responsibilities and available supports from OCUL and Scholars Portal, and a list of FAQs (login required).
  • Ask a Librarian is open for the summer term from Monday, May 1st to Friday, August 4th, with closures for statutory holidays on May 22nd and July 3rd. Summer hours are Monday-Thursday 10AM-5PM, Friday 10AM-4PM. There is no service on weekends. Recordings and slides from our recent training session are available on SPOTDocs (Ask operators only).


New Content

New on Scholars Portal Journals:

  • Toronto Stock Exchange eReview: The monthly TSX eReview provides comprehensive market, trading and corporate information for companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
  • Cambridge Archive: We have begun to load the complete digital archive of Cambridge University Press journals. Some content goes back as early as the year 1770!

New on Scholars Portal Books:

  • Springer 2023: We have begun to receive 2023 content from Springer across disciplinary areas. Loading is ongoing. Collections are with Ex Libris for ingestion.
  • Canadian University Presses (ACUP) 2023 update: We have begun to receive ACUP content again after a delay. For Alma users, continue to subscribe to the Scholars Portal Books: Canadian University Presses 2023 collection to get regular updates.

New geospatial datasets in Scholars GeoPortal:

  • Toronto Property Data Maps, 2021 and 2022: This series combines topography and parcel mapping, and provides a base for thematic mapping services and other published hardcopy products. Each map depicts building envelopes, building outlines, railway lines, major watercourses, municipal addresses, curbs, park names, street names, property lines, right of way, boundaries, and more. These datasets are restricted to authorized users only.
  • LIO Geodatabase snapshot for 2022 (Open Access): Every year, a snapshot of the Land Information Ontario (LIO) topographic, contour, and hydrology features geodatabase is downloaded and loaded into the GeoPortal for annual time series analysis of Ontario’s core geospatial data.
  • Airborne Topographic Lidar Classified Point Clouds (Open Access): The Ontario Point Cloud (Lidar-Derived) consists of points containing elevation and intensity information derived from returns collected by an airborne topographic lidar sensor. It was designed to support agricultural soil map renewal for selected geographic areas in Ontario. The point cloud has been classified into Unclassified, Ground, Water, High and Low Noise categories and is structured into non-overlapping 1-km by 1-km tiles in LAZ format.
  • Statistics Canada Census 2021 Boundaries Collection: Every Census year, Statistics Canada releases new geographic census boundary files for mapping a variety of disseminated census data products.

New surveys in Odesi:

  • Canadian Election Study 2021: The 2021 Canadian Election Study was conducted to document the attitudes of Canadians during and after the 2021 election. It continues the tradition of Canadian Election Studies started in 1965.
  • Canadian Housing Survey 2021: The Canadian Housing Survey provides information on how Canadians feel about their housing and how housing affects them. Information is collected on housing conditions and costs; dwelling characteristics and housing tenure; perceptions of economic hardship from housing costs; dwelling and neighbourhood satisfaction; perceptions of neighbourhood issues and safety; housing moves including forced moves; civic engagement; life and community satisfaction; self-assessed health; various dimensions of physical and mental well-being; experience with homelessness; socio-demographic characteristics; and the impacts of COVID-19 on some aspects of housing.
  • Canadian Income Survey 2019: The Canadian Income Survey is a cross-sectional survey developed to provide information on the income and income sources of Canadians, with their individual and household characteristics. Information gathered includes labour market activity, school attendance, support payments, child care expenses, inter-household transfers, personal income, food security and characteristics and costs of housing. The anonymized microdata file contains only a subset of variables.
  • Survey on Before and After School Care in Canada 2022: Statistics Canada is gathering information from families who use before and after school care as well as those who do not. The survey, which addresses before and after school care in Canada for children who are attending school (i.e. ages 4 to 12 years old), asks about the different types of before and after school care arrangements that families use, difficulties some families may face when looking for care, as well as reasons for not using before and after school care. The survey also covers the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on before and after school care.


Spotlight: Scholars Portal Days Lightning Talks

The spotlight is an opportunity for members of the OCUL community to share how Scholars Portal services fit into their work. This edition’s spotlight is a compilation of the lightning talks given by members of the OCUL and Canadian university communities at Scholars Portal Days 2023 on May 4 and 5.

Every year at Scholars Portal Day(s), we host lightning talk sessions – an opportunity for people around OCUL and beyond to talk about projects and initiatives they’re working on, some of which are directly related to Scholars Portal services. The lightning talks are a great opportunity to share ideas and find common ground across institutions.

Our first lightning talk session this year featured talks that highlighted various efforts undertaken by different libraries to provide insights into the initiatives taken by different OCUL libraries to reframe their communications, refresh their services, and renew engagement with their respective communities.

In “From the Inside Out: Reframing Virtual Reference Promotion at Queen’s University Libraries,” Maggie Gordon and Carling Spinney discussed how the creation of a new Virtual Reference Team led to a rethinking of the way VR services are promoted internally. They demo’ed the tool, which they have been using to create and share visually engaging statistics dashboards.

Katya Pereyaslavska and Emily Carlisle-Johnston presented “Rebuilding our Connections: Western Libraries Outreach Strategy and a New Approach to Relationship Building,” highlighting the strategy behind communications and outreach in a post-COVID world and the development of new infrastructure and committees to support that engagement. The focus was on building sustainable and lasting relationships with the campus community and external partners.

Data Services Webpage Refresh” highlighted Lacey Cain’s work streamlining and updating outdated Data Services webpages, with particular emphasis on user experience and accessibility. Lacey shared a ton of helpful tips and tricks to assist others in refreshing their own webpages and keeping them up to date.

The final talk, “Information Management for Library IT Departments,” chronicles Mackenzie Kathmann and Yoo Young Lee’s journey to revitalize and update the knowledge management systems used at the uOttawa Library IT department, including some very helpful lessons learned and best practices!

The second lightning talk session focused on collaborations and service models and featured talks that showcased various collaborative initiatives and innovative approaches to data curation, repository management, preservation infrastructure, and accessibility in Canadian libraries.

Alexandra Cooper and Vivek Jadon introduced the Markit! Program in “Odesi Markit! Program: A Curation Model for Data”. Markit! is a collaboration between multiple institutions and focuses on updating and maintaining Odesi’s diverse data collections. The presentation emphasized the workflows, training, and best practices needed to make a collaborative, distributed curation model successful.

Meghan Goodchild presented “An Update on Borealis, the Canadian Dataverse Repository.” Formerly known as Scholars Portal Dataverse, Borealis underwent a rebranding in 2022 to support its new identity as a national collaboration. Meghan shared updates on the service and activities the Borealis team is undertaking to build community across the country.

Meghan was joined by Danica Evering in “Reflecting and Renewing: A community-led Collaboration to Survey Canadian Dataverse Administrators.” Run by a national working group, the survey gathered information about Dataverse instances across the country, and particularly about Dataverse administrators’ perceptions about and efforts towards more national collaboration, community-driven programs, and more.

In “Embracing Shared Community-led Preservation Infrastructure at the University of Alberta,” Kenton Good shared the story of the University of Alberta’s journey from self-hosting on-premise infrastructure for preserving digitized and born-digital materials, to adopting Scholars Portal-developed tools, namely the OLRC and Permafrost.

Finally, “Reflecting on One Year of a Laurier Library PDF Pitstop: A Community Asks About a National Remediation Strategy” brought together numerous speakers, including a blind graduate student (Ashley Shaw), her sighted supervisor (Ciann Wilson), her sighted subject librarian (Mark Weiler), and other sighted colleagues across OCUL (Nancy Waite, Bart Kawula, Aneta Kwak). Following their call for a PDF Pitstop at last year’s Scholars Portal Days, this group highlighted the problems behind journal article inaccessibility and lessons learned from the PDF remediation project so far. They finished by laying out an inspiring vision for a national remediation strategy, including a national workflow for remediations and a national repository for remediated journal articles.

All of these lightning talks were thought-provoking, and provided inspiration, ideas, and tips for people with similar projects or similar problems. We strongly encourage you to watch them all!

Many thanks, once again, to all of our presenters for their thoughtful presentations.

Slides and abstracts from the lightning talks are available on SPOTDocs. You can watch the recordings on YouTube.


The Nitty-Gritty

New and improved features:

  • The Scholars Portal Journals platform passed our biannual usage statistics audit from Project COUNTER!
  • We updated the interface to display multiple PDF download buttons for articles that are available in multiple languages.
  • Using Crossref data, we were able to add over 200,000 article DOIs and 1.1 million ORCID IDs.
  • The Permafrost team developed new documentation for using Globus as a transfer source and metadata reingest, and updated documentation with suggested bagging tools.
  • Multiple storage locations in the OLRC can now be configured for a single Permafrost instance to improve the content organization and management. .
  • Stay up to date on Project RAMP! Updates are shared on SPOTDocs.

Bug fixes:

  • We updated file format signature files in Archivematica to resolve a format identification issue for the Adobe metadata sidecar XMP format.
  • Two bug fixes related to object uploads using the Horizon interface are deployed for the OLRC.
  • We’ve developed reporting workflows for Permafrost and the OLRC to monitor and communicate with users about leftover segments and access copies.
  • We fixed several Journals bugs, including: problems with missing URLs, duplicates of articles without DOIs, and missing image files.
  • The RACER team fixed several bugs, including: problems with patron registration, blocked cancellation messages, and auto-mediation issues.
  • Major cleanup of the Books backup directories currently underway! This will help us to improve our loading and file replacement workflows.

Many thanks to all those who reported bugs to us or assisted in testing! If you spot any problems, please report them via our built-in feedback forms or to


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Next edition: September 2023

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