The University of Rochester has joined a select group of major research universities to assist in further development of DSpace, an electronic system that collects scholarly work and shares it freely with others.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Libraries has invited six institutions to continue work on the adaptability of the open-source software to ease the exchange of information produced by scholars. With a $300,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, MIT Libraries will work with the universities in the new federation. Besides Rochester, the other partners are Columbia University, Cornell University, Ohio State University, the University of Toronto, and the University of Washington.
Susan Gibbons, director of digital library initiatives for River Campus Libraries at the University of Rochester, pointed out that DSpace enhances learning by sharing information as it develops and is exchanged through informal communication by the academic community. "Perhaps most exciting is the potential of DSpace to create and improve partnerships between libraries and those who generate new knowledge on a university or college campus," she said.
DSpace, a digital library repository for intellectual work, was launched worldwide in November 2002, the result of a two-year collaboration between MIT Libraries and Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, HP's strategic research facility. The system is now in full production at MIT, and holds approximately 1,000 items.
The originators wanted the system to address a growing institutional need: how to collect, preserve, index, and distribute the intellectual output of an organization with complex digital formats. "This is a time-consuming task for individual faculty and their departments, labs, and centers to manage, and something that the DSpace system will make easier and more affordable," said Ann Wolpert, director of MIT Libraries.
By offering DSpace to other research-intensive institutions at this point, MIT Libraries believes the experience with federation members will enable even small colleges to run repositories with existing resources later. The system is designed with a flexible storage and retrieval architecture adaptable to a multitude of data formats and distinct research disciplines. Different parts of an institution can customize the DSpace system to meet their needs and manage the data themselves.