Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Spring 2012 Newsletter

Philanthropy at the Ransom Center:
IBM Grant Enhances Visitor Experience

Three men standing behind two computers. Click to enlarge.

From left, IBM Manager of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs Sandy Dochen, Ransom Center Database Administrator and Head of Technology and Digital Services Chris Jahnke, and Ransom Center Director Thomas F. Staley.

The IBM Corporation has provided the Ransom Center with two IBM "High Tower" servers to assist in the Center's ongoing need for streaming and storing of audiovisual content and to dedicate a server solely to public digital collections and web exhibitions.

The Center routinely delivers streaming audiovisual content to the public in the form of three- to ten-minute productions and live broadcasts of events. Although the Center has had success delivering this content to the public, the current server is taxed. One of the new IBM high-performance servers is dedicated solely to streaming audiovisual content, easing the strain on the current system. The additional server also allows the Center to create an in-house streaming system for delivering digitized collection materials such as audio recordings, video tapes, and motion picture film to researchers.

"The Center has been digitizing our voluminous audiovisual holdings at a furious pace and developing an automated delivery system to better serve our visiting researchers. Soon it will be possible for visitors to have instant access to digitized audiovisual materials rather than having to request a CD or DVD that has to be created, shelved, retrieved, and re-shelved by various staff. With limited time available to visiting scholars due to budgets and deadlines, every second spent in our Reading Room is precious," said Ransom Center Webmaster Daniel Zmud.

The second server will be dedicated to public digital collections and web exhibitions. Currently this access comes from the Center's main database server, which is also used for in-house database applications. Consequently, periods of high visitor traffic result in slow performance for both online visitors and staff using the database to conduct Ransom Center business. The new IBM server ensures a better user experience for visitors and segregates the respective demands so that the combination does not exceed capacity.

The server donations, valued at over $13,000, came from IBM's Corporate Citizenship program. IBM has been a leader in corporate social responsibility for nearly 100 years, contributing technology, talent, and cash to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions around the world. By joining with libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions in partnerships that leverage IBM expertise, IBM is able to demonstrate the critical role technology plays in enhancing the arts.

"IBM is delighted that the Ransom Center's smart use of this technology will enable the staff to extend its mission in support of one of the world's most significant cultural centers," said Sandy Dochen, IBM Manager, Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs.

The Ransom Center is deeply grateful to IBM for this donation that will enhance services provided to students, scholars, and the public.  

For more information or to contribute to the Center's endowment, please contact Associate Director for Development Margie Rine at 512-471-9643 or margierine@austin.utexas.edu.

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