Matt Barry, our Digital Library Developer, has been working with Dan Sifton on the Provincial Digital Library Project, a collaboration between OurDigitalWorld and the British Columbia Library Association.


Matt’s been building a proof-of-concept with Dan using Supplejack as an ingest tool for a variety of digital heritage content in Ontario and BC. Matt’s specialty was building the front-end for the tool in Ember.js.


Matt’s a librarian focusing on user experience design, who graduated with a Master’s of Information Science degree from the University of Michigan in 2016:

My specialty is using user-testing and usability research to enhance the information-seeking process for users, both in face-to-face and virtual interactions. I’m still at the beginning of my career right now, but my goal is to help build library systems that are easier to use, to help reduce barriers to library access.


I asked him to summarize his work on the Digital Library Project:

The project involves researching and building a prototype for an inter-provincial digital library portal.  The portal will be able to collect metadata from many different institutional repositories, and provide a single, federated search tool that’s quick and easy to use.  For the back-end of our prototype, we’re using Supplejack, which is a software stack developed by Digital New Zealand for collecting, indexing, and searching metadata. For the front-end interface, I’ve built a single-page web app in Ember.js (a JavaScript framework).  Our finished prototype will be a demonstration that by working with an existing software community, we can create an inter-provincial portal that’s both easy to maintain and easy to use, without using a lot of resources.

Ideally, I want our prototype to demonstrate all of the features the Supplejack stack can provide—including automatic metadata collection, text and filter searches, and geographic bounding box searches. We also want to provide a library of example code to demonstrate how new sources of metadata could easily be added.  We’re really excited about the work we’re doing, and we want to create something that will make other people excited as well!


And on working with team members in Ontario and BC:

With the technology available to us, having a remote team hasn’t really been an issue! We do most of our day-to-day communicating through a Slack channel, where we discuss what we’re working on, and share ideas and snippets of code.  We supplement this with the occasional Google Hangout when we have a lot we want to discuss.  We also use a GitHub repository for part of our project, which makes it easy to keep each of our work environments in sync.

As an American who just became a permanent resident of Canada a few days before starting this project, I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to immerse myself in Canada’s library system; to learn about the differences between American and Canadian libraries, and to see some of the unique challenges Canada is facing in the field. 


It’s been wonderful having Matt on the team, and seeing so much progress towards a viable Provincial Digital Library!