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Cambridge University Library, in association with the University Computing Service, has formulated a major project to provide the University with an institutional digital repository, ‘DSpace@Cambridge’. This repository will provide a home for the increasing amount of material that is being digitised from the University Library’s own printed and manuscript collections. It also has the ability to capture, index, store, disseminate and preserve digital materials created in any part of the University. These will potentially include scholarly communications (articles and pre-prints), theses, technical reports, archives of departments and the University as a whole, and other textual material, together with different formats such as multimedia clips, interactive teaching programmes, data sets and databases.

DSpace@Cambridge will involve formal collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Libraries, and will be based on ‘DSpace™’, a system created jointly by the MIT Libraries and Hewlett-Packard Laboratories. DSpace supports the Open Archives Initiative’s Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) v2.0 as a data provider, and uses a qualified version of the Dublin Core schema based on the Dublin Core Libraries Working Group Application Profile.

The project is funded by a grant of £1.7 million from the Cambridge-MIT Institute and is due for completion in July 2005. In the first stages, the project team will be identifying a small number of ‘early adopter’ communities to provide content and test the system before it is made available to the University at large. Each user community will be able to customise the DSpace system to meet its individual needs and manage its own data submission process.

DSpace is already a functioning system and so the DSpace@Cambridge project is intended not merely to oversee its implementation in Cambridge and its adaptation to local requirements, but also to develop its functionality, with a special focus on two areas of interest. Firstly, DSpace will be developed as a means of preserving digital content. This will enable the University Library to make its own special contribution to the development of DSpace, utilising the expertise in digital preservation that it has acquired during the last four years through its participation in the Cedars and CAMiLEON digital preservation projects. Secondly, DSpace's ability to support learning management systems will be developed in collaboration with CARET and other University departments.

In parallel with the Cambridge-MIT Libraries partnership, another six universities (Columbia, Cornell, Rochester, Ohio, and Washington in the United States, plus Toronto in Canada) are developing collaborative arrangements with MIT to implement DSpace for themselves, thus creating the first federation of DSpace institutions. MIT and Hewlett-Packard have also released the DSpace system, which observes internationally-recognised protocols and interoperability standards, as open source software, so that other institutions worldwide may use it freely.

The DSpace@Cambridge project will be overseen by an advisory board with both UK and US representation: in addition to providing guidance on the Cambridge-MIT project, the board will ensure effective liaison between the project and other digital repository developments in the UK and elsewhere. To reinforce this initiative, the University Library and the MIT Libraries are planning a further CMI-funded project to organise a two-year programme of seminars for UK higher and further education and cultural heritage organisations that will promote institutional strategies for digital repositories.


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