DSpace@Cambridge Project | DSpace@Cambridge Repository | Cambridge University Library Home | Links | Contact
Cambridge University Library logo
DSpace@Cambridge Logo


DSpace@Cambridge Project Proposal

The following edited extracts are taken from the original project proposal submitted by Cambridge University Library and the MIT Libraries to the Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI). The proposal was submitted in July 2002 and funding was awarded in November 2002.

DSpace@Cambridge: a project to extend DSpace into Cambridge University and the United Kingdom

1. Summary of project

Cambridge University Library, in conjunction with Cambridge University Computing Service, joins the DSpace federation initiative, and together with the MIT Libraries develops methods to collect, preserve, and make accessible digital content which is used in undergraduate programmes and other activities; and maximises the value of existing educational assets through the implementation of a long term digital preservation strategy. Strategies will be established regarding deployment costs, intellectual property rights issues, organisational change, institutional governance, and policy issues, based on the proposed implementation, and these lessons will be applied in support of the shared goals of MIT and Cambridge University, in order to establish a digital object preservation service in Cambridge University.

2. Objectives of project

The project will focus on developing a system to support the storage and use of digital materials for undergraduate learning and other purposes. It will thereby contribute to the following CMI themes relating to the evolution of future technology:
• the development of new modes of teaching and new uses of technology to enhance learning.
• the continuing revolutions in information technology and the intelligence sciences;
• understanding the nature and impact of new digital media;
• the understanding, design and operation of large-scale, complex systems;
• blending technology, management, economics, policy, and education;

It will pursue these objectives through specific goals:

a. Identify needs within the institution for digital asset management services, and a deployment strategy to satisfy these needs.

b. Establish DSpace at Cambridge to preserve: learning materials, internally produced digital objects, and externally published digital objects, including the ability to enable appropriate use.

c. Demonstrate applicable Cedars and CAMiLEON approaches within an operational DSpace context. Share technologies between institutions.

d. Work with other institutional entities to agree on standards applicable for the deposit of educational materials in a digital repository (AMPS and CARET, for example). Collaboratively develop interoperability standards with Learning Management Systems using emerging standards from the Open Knowledge Initiative work, or other similar initiatives.

e. Position the institutions to deliver archived educational digital assets through emerging Learning Management Systems.

f. Leverage the business model created at MIT to produce the Cambridge University business model, including costs, funding streams, and institutional structures, in co-operation with the business schools at both institutions.

g. Inform national digital repository strategies.

h. Produce pragmatic approaches that enable practical solutions to be applied to rights management issues.

3. Overview

3.1 DSpace is a digital repository system that the MIT Libraries and Hewlett-Packard have built as a collaborative project. Its purpose is twofold: "to create and establish an electronic system that captures, preserves and communicates the intellectual output of MIT's faculty and researchers"; and to extend the DSpace technology into "a federation of systems [that] makes available the collective intellectual resources of the world's leading research institutions". DSpace functions as an institutional repository for organizations that must capture, manage, and preserve digital material in a variety of formats for a variety of purposes. DSpace was designed from the outset to be an “open source” system that could be freely given to other institutions, and the MIT Libraries plans to develop a federation of institutions using DSpace to solve a number of problems:

• Helping make the system more useful and sustainable over time by collaborating on its growth and development with other interested institutions. The open source model, and the federation contract, will ensure that useful developments made by one institution become part of the basic DSpace system and available to the rest of the federation. This will allow the system to advance far more rapidly than would be possible at just one institution.

• Gaining more influence in important policy and standards development, and in the development of the commercial sector by combining a significant number of influential organizations into one voice with a common goal. The DSpace federation will provide an important testbed in the area of digital libraries, archives, and repositories, and should become one of the major influences on future developments in these areas.

• Developing new solutions to digital collection management, preservation, and scholarly communication by supporting interoperation among institutions running DSpace. This includes functions such as “virtual” collections or publications distributed across several institutions, cross-institutional searching, and distributed services that federation members can take advantage of (e.g. data cleanup or enhancement, format migrations for preservation, and so on).

3.2 The initial target institutions for DSpace are other research libraries, cultural heritage institutions, and government agencies that have a mandate to support research and research-based education using digital materials. The DSpace federation is being defined by the MIT Libraries in consultation with many other institutions that are interested in deploying it, and will be fully defined during the fall of 2002. The system will be made generally available as Open Source in the fall of 2002.

3.3 As DSpace becomes a robust, scalable, production quality system at the MIT Libraries, we are beginning to see the actual demand and potential for the system in a number of areas.

3.3.1 Scholarly Communication

• The SPARC organization, an alliance of universities, research libraries, and organizations including both the MIT Libraries and Cambridge University Library, is a constructive response to market dysfunctions in the scholarly communication system. These dysfunctions have reduced dissemination of scholarship and constrained libraries. SPARC serves as a catalyst for action, helping to create systems that expand information dissemination and use in a networked digital environment while responding to the needs of scholars and academe. One of their current priorities is the promotion of institutional repositories, and they have identified DSpace as a leader in that category. The MIT Libraries are in discussion with SPARC about an active collaboration to promote DSpace internationally as a means of promoting their agenda.

• DSpace supports the Open Archives Initiative’s Protocol for Metadata Harvesting, a new NISO standard that promotes the ability to create “virtual” catalogs and collections of material from distributed institutions. It has been applied in a number of domains (especially preprint archives) and is a promising technology for solving some of the problems of institutionally-based publishing. OAI is a component of the recent JISC FAIR programme in the UK, and the MIT Libraries are in discussions with a UKOLN FAIR project that is interested in developing e-print archives for the UK about possible collaborations. The MIT Libraries are also in discussions with the University of Illinois, who have developed a set of OAI harvesting tools under a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, about the possibilities for integrating OAI further in DSpace to support new types of publications.

• MIT Libraries are discussing a relationship with the Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia (EPIC) University about developing a common set of publishing tools that would be integrated with DSpace in support of new publishing ventures such as faculty-based journals or “e-communities”. Both the MIT Press and Cambridge University Press are interested in participating in such an initiative.

3.3.2 Digital Preservation

• DSpace provides both a secure repository on which to build a digital preservation program and a large test bed of digital material on which to perform badly needed research in this area. As an institutional repository, DSpace accepts digital material in non-standard formats including both proprietary formats (e.g. Microsoft Word or Real Networks RealAudio files) and one-time items (e.g. a program written by a faculty member for a physics visualization used in a course). These are, of course, very fragile and difficult to preserve.

• Cambridge University Library has been closely involved in a number of important digital preservation initiatives in the UK, and is an acknowledged leader in this field with several JISC initiatives completed already. CUL was one of three main partners in the Cedars project. It is closely linked with the CAMiLEON project, and plans to work closely with the SHERPA project (part of JISC's FAIR programme, the remit of which is to investigate e-print archive clusters. CUL is also collaborating with other legal deposit libraries to prepare for the likely extension of UK legal deposit legislation to cover electronic resources. All these initiatives will inform the development of DSpace.

• DSpace also shows potential for solving the difficult problem of archiving web sites. Both MIT and Cambridge University produce numerous web sites of significant and persistent value, especially in the area of course web sites that support undergraduate education, and their libraries are being asked to help develop the technologies and procedures to preserve them. A recent community standard of the US Digital Library Federation called METS (Metadata Encoding and Transmission Syntax) shows promise in how to accomplish this, and MIT Libraries are represented on the editorial board for the standard to insure that it develops in this direction. METS will be adopted broadly both in the US (e.g. the Library of Congress, University of California, Harvard and others, including the MIT Libraries), and the UK (the British Library, UKOLN, and Oxford are all committed to its adoption).

3.3.3 Policy and Standards Development

• The preceding discussion of METS is an excellent example of where a DSpace federation can have an impact on standards development and adoption. There are many other examples, for example the choice of and support for a standard language for intellectual property rights management such as the international Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL) initiative. If the DSpace federation implements one such standard then it will go a long way towards driving its adoption by other stakeholders in the digital library and institutional repository fields.

• Also in the area of technical standards adoption are Learning Management Systems. MIT is the lead institution for an important project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to design a standard, open architecture for Learning Management Systems called the Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI), to which Cambridge University is also an important contributor. The OKI project team at MIT is collaborating closely with the Libraries on the question of what services the DSpace institutional repository can offer the campus Learning Management System, both to support current courses and the ongoing pedagogical use of course material. Together with other OKI participants, we are developing the standards for how these systems will interoperate.

• An example of a non-technical aspect of this is in the area of copyright policy. Institutions are struggling with developing local policy for copyrighted material, both in the sense of faculty who publish in commercial or scholarly society journals and in the sense of reusing copyrighted materials for research and educational purposes. DSpace is positioned for both of these activities, and can help drive policy discussions at each institution. Then the federation can collectively determine if there are best practices in this regard, and if it should develop standards across the federation (and by implication, beyond) for copyright policy.

3.3.4 Research

• DSpace has always been envisioned to be a research platform in a number of areas, some of which have already been touched on (e.g. digital preservation, rights management). Another area is that of metadata support in the context of the Internet and World Wide Web. MIT Libraries have been funded to work together with the Hewlett Packard Corporation (in particular their research labs in Bristol, UK), the W3C, and an MIT researcher from the Lab for Computer Science on the problem of implementing new W3C standards for semantic interoperability of metadata (the Semantic Web Activity) in the context of real institutional repositories such as DSpace. The result of that project will be a solid understanding of the degree to which DSpace can support complex community-defined metadata schemas and how well they will interoperate to support resource discovery across extremely disparate material. We will also be examining how to extend DSpace to support the use of Web Services for distributed collection management, the goal being to reduce costs and other barriers to maintaining DSpace collections over time.

3.4 As the first DSpace federation partner, the Cambridge University Library brings to the DSpace project proven expertise in digital preservation techniques and an international perspective, and will be a strong partner in collaborations with separately funded Learning Management System projects such as OKI. CUL will also provide expertise and leadership in the UK, both in advancing the DSpace federation programme and in contributing to the development of UK digital preservation policies through initiatives such as JISC programmes and the Digital Preservation Coalition.

4. Objectives

4.1 The DSpace@Cambridge project seeks to ensure, firstly, that the collective digital intellectual resources of Cambridge University are systematically captured, preserved, and made accessible for both present-day and long-term use; and secondly, that the knowledge gained in developing this service for Cambridge University can be disseminated as a model for adoption by other UK universities.

4.2 Digital materials are increasingly being created and used in Cambridge University for teaching, research, and related activities. These materials may be either "born digital" or a digitised version of analogue material. While substantial resources are being directed towards the creation of such material, comparatively little effort has so far been directed towards ensuring (a) that related materials from different sources can be brought together and made immediately available in a co-ordinated manner to users throughout the University; and (b) that digital materials can be stored and retrieved in the longer term.

4.3 Cambridge University Library's established primary role is to provide the University with a central repository of knowledge supporting the University's teaching, research, and related activities, both in the present day and for the long-term future. In this role it has acquired, preserved, and made accessible both the intellectual output of the University and the output of 3000 years of intellectual activity elsewhere, in printed and manuscript form. Through its status as a legal deposit library it has a similar, broader, responsibility to the national and international academic community.

4.4 The greatest challenge facing the University Library now is to ensure that it can continue to fulfil these roles for digital material - which will include not only text but also images, audio, video, datasets, and multimedia formats for which there is no print alternative - as it has done hitherto for traditional printed and manuscript materials. To do so, it must provide the University and the broader community with a managed preservation and delivery service for digital resources. DSpace offers a means of achieving this responsibility.

4.5 The Project's broad objectives are:
• to develop DSpace as a service managed by Cambridge University Library for the University as a whole, for the acquisition, preservation, and delivery of digital material.
• to further develop DSpace, together with the MIT Libraries, to support new instructional technologies such as Learning Management Systems in support of the teaching mission of the university
• to provide an UK exemplar of DSpace in support of the MIT Libraries’ efforts to build an international federation of DSpace users, and to relate DSpace technology, organisational procedures, and rights management issues to other digital preservation initiatives in the UK which inform national digital preservation strategies.

4.6 By federating, in a UK context, with DSpace at MIT Libraries, Cambridge will be able to develop a "sustainable long-term digital storage repository that provides an opportunity to explore issues surrounding access control, rights management, versioning, retrieval, community feedback, and flexible publishing capabilities". Cambridge University Library will itself bring to this development the knowledge and experience it has gained as a partner in the Cedars Project, which has focussed on specific aspects of digital preservation such as rights management, metadata, and organisational issues. It will capitalise on relevant outcomes from the related CAMiLEON Project investigating emulation as a digital preservation strategy. The CU Librarian is a member of the UK librarians' and publishers' joint committee on voluntary legal deposit of electronic resources, though which CUL will be exploring the long-term preservation of legal deposit materials.

4.7 Material for populating DSpace in the context of Cambridge University will potentially come from a variety of both internal and external sources, including, for example:
• learning materials created by CARET, by teaching departments, and by individuals
• papers written by teaching and research staff
• technical reports
• theses
• databanks
• administrative documents (the official University archive)
• personal files, working notes, etc.
• purchased digital texts
• bibliographic datasets
• hosting of e-journals published by Cambridge academics
• legal deposit of digital publications

4.8 The Project will concentrate initially on learning materials and other internally-produced objects, while mindful of the need to develop a repository that can handle other types of material as well. These materials will be received in different formats, and we will examine whether the repository should be concerned with preserving the content or the physical format or both.

4.9 The value of DSpace will derive, not simply from its ability to preserve digital material in a retrievable form, thus relieving departments and individuals from the need to make their own arrangements for storage and retrieval, but in the added value it can impart to its output. For example:
• There will be an emphasis on indexing of digital material, both to identify the object and to enable searching across objects for specific content. This will greatly enhance DSpace's potential as a tool for resource discovery, and will promote the exchange of ideas and co-operation in the production of learning materials.
• With additional development, DSpace could provide a publish-on-demand service, e.g. for the distribution of committee papers and other current business documents to defined audiences; and for the production of lecture handouts.
• Access to DSpace materials may require secure authentication of users, utilising the University Card or other forms of accreditation for this purpose.

4.10 Cambridge University's DSpace service will offer all members of the University the resources they require to archive and make available the digital objects they create in the course of their work (although not necessarily reproducing the original context and functionality of certain materials, such as an administrative records that were available from an SAP system or records management system). The Project will place particular emphasis on community support for the service among affiliates of the CMI programme, developing close working relationships with key producers and managers of digital materials within each university.

4.11 In Cambridge the key central producers and managers will include:
• The Computing Service. The Computing Service provides the infrastructure of computing facilities and related services in support of research and teaching in the University of Cambridge;
• The Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies (CARET). CARET provides Cambridge University with a central focus for online education, with the remit to facilitate cross-disciplinary collaborations, identify and evaluate the innovative use of technology, promote the use of teaching technologies across all educational sectors, and address applied research questions to improve teaching and learning.
• The Educational Technology Service (ETS). The ETS is a new central service being created jointly by CARET and the Computing Service to support the deployment and delivery of online educational environments and new educational resources throughout the University, working directly with staff in Departments and Colleges to provide the necessary support, guidance and training that they require to implement new technology based teaching for their own courses. In the immediate future, the service will be delivered through a variety of commercial and open source products which will allow departments to begin to use these immediately. Over the next eighteen months the ETS expects to deploy a new open source Learning Management System based on the Open Knowledge Initiative at MIT and anticipates that it will migrate to this in the future.
• The Management Information Services Division. The MISD provides and maintains administrative computing systems for the Central Administrative offices, including Payroll, Personnel, Student Records, the University Finance System, and the central administration's web systems. Its responsibilities include security of data and of equipment, development and support of network services, database and systems management, and backup and recovery facilities.
• The Press & Publications Office. The PPO's main activities include managing the editorial policy of the central administration's web site, and running the University's online news and events service.
• Cambridge University Press. Cambridge University Press, an integral part of the University, will in future publish in new formats and media and invest in technological change to improve its production, distribution and information systems.

4.12 These relationships will seek to establish agreed standards for the creation, deposit and use of learning materials. Both at MIT and Cambridge, DSpace is being considered for a repository of record to house OKI-compliant educational materials. The Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI), a collaboration funded initially by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and led by MIT and involving Cambridge University and six other US institutions, is developing a scalable and sustainable open-source reference system for internet-enabled education. It aims to create an architectural platform that addresses key management functions in assembling, delivering and accessing educational resources, and then to encourage the development of applications that use this platform. The Project will additionally develop a capability for the production of metadata packages and filters for types of material (representation networks), especially for the OKI architecture.

4.13 In its initial phase the Project will develop a defensible cost model for the installation and support of DSpace within Cambridge University. It will subsequently develop a sustainable business model for establishing a self-supporting long-term service, and appropriate alternative exit strategies. These models will be produced in collaboration with the Judge Institute of Management Studies.

4.14 The Project will propagate its findings and experience across other UK universities. The results of the Cambridge project, building on those gained from the original MIT Libraries/Hewlett-Packard collaboration, will be disseminated through the National Competitiveness Network, and through other conferences and publications. There will also be extensive consultation with other UK initiatives in this field, notably those of the JISC DNER such as the Digital Preservation Coalition, FAIR (Focus on Access to Institutional Resources) Programme, SPARC Europe, and the AHDS (Arts and Humanities Data Service). Consultation will ensure that the DSpace project complements and helps to advance these initiatives.

4.15 There may be an opportunity to explore, in collaboration with Nature Publishing Group, the role DSpace@Cambridge might play in providing perpetual archives of scientific material that has been published on the web, and in addressing issues surrounding continued access to such material.

4.16 To ensure that DSpace fulfils its intended role, there will need to be a University-wide programme of communication and consultation to raise awareness of the issues surrounding digital storage, develop a set of corporate procedures to encourage use of the service, and establish an agreed institutional strategy for digital preservation.

4.17 The Project will identify short term and long term measures of success, using a combination of user evaluation, technical evaluation by peer review and formal testing, assessment by external experts, and a formal reporting mechanism in keeping with the CMI project evaluation requirements.

5. Outcomes and deliverables

5.1 An understanding of the need for digital asset management, and an institutional strategy that will meet these needs within the Cambridge University context.

5.2 An installed and supported DSpace system customised to the Cambridge environment, managed by Cambridge University Library, and federated between Cambridge and MIT.

5.3 A business model for running DSpace at Cambridge University based on knowledge gained through the development of the MIT business model. It will include costs, funding streams, institutional structures, and exit strategies, in co-operation with business consultants familiar with both institutions.

5.4 An understanding of the localization issues with DSpace in a new institution. The project will spend considerable time exploring which changes to the DSpace systems are localizations, of value only to the particular institution implementing the system, and which are enhancements to the system that would be of general interest and value to members of the DSpace federation. This exploration will help MIT Libraries formulate the contractual requirements for future DSpace federators, and understand how to manage distributed enhancements to a centrally developed and supported system.

5.5 Investigation of the application of digital preservation recommendations such as those of Cedars and CAMiLEON within an operational DSpace context, and the appropriate and necessary system developments to support these.

5.6 The formulation, in collaboration with other institutional entities, of standards applicable for the deposit and use of educational materials in a digital repository, working collaboratively with the Open Knowledge Initiative and other such initiatives. The ability to apply archived digital assets for delivery via emerging Learning Management Systems.

5.7 Pragmatic solutions to rights management issues.

6. Project management and evaluation

6.1 Management

The operational organisation of the project will be overseen
• at CUL by a project manager who will report on a day-to-day basis to the CUL project advisor.
• at MIT by a project liaison who will report on a day-to-day basis to the MIT project advisor.

The project will be directed on a day-to-day basis by a Project Management Committee, which will monitor progress on the project and provide direction on a day-to-day basis. The Committee will be chaired by the project manager, and its membership will include members of the project team and key staff from CUL and MIT Libraries.

Strategic direction will be provided by a Project Advisory Board, meeting at six-month intervals throughout the project, which will provide general guidance and advice and will contribute to the evaluative process. It will consist of both Project Leaders, at least one other senior staff each from CUL and MIT Libraries, two external UK members, and two external US members. Meetings of the Project Advisory Board will be convened by the Project Manager on the schedule indicated.

Other groups may be set up as required by the Management Committee or the Advisory Board to provide additional guidance on specific aspects of the project.

6.2 Cambridge University Library

• The Cambridge project leader will be the University Librarian.

• The CUL project advisor will be the Senior Under-Librarian responsible for digital library co-ordination.

6.3 MIT

• The MIT project leader will be the Director of Libraries

• The MIT project advisor will be the Associate Director for Technology and DSpace Project Director

• The MIT aspects of the project will be managed by a dedicated full-time project liaison based in the MIT Libraries.

6.4 Evaluation

Progress reports to CMI will be compiled and submitted at six-month intervals from the start of the project. These will assess the effectiveness of the management structure, a review of work to date, and an assessment of progress towards the project objectives.

Technical evaluation will be carried out against the project objectives:
• by a formal test programme involving CU users as well as selected other UK and US institutions.
• by peer review using external experts forming a technical group established for the purpose.

Summative evaluation will be carried out through:
• the final project report to CMI
• dissemination and feedback through the National Competitiveness Network
• dissemination through other workshops and publications

7. Methodology

7.1 The project is divided into three phases that together will run for three years. We begin by doing detailed project planning and hiring critical staff members, continue by implementing the DSpace system at the Cambridge University Library and planning for its transition to operational status there, and conclude by running a pilot project to deploy the system at the Cambridge University Library and studying its impact and operational requirements. Go to top

DSpace.org Logo
MIT Libraries Logo
CMI Logo

Cambridge University Library West Road Cambridge CB3 9DR
Last updated

email the webmaster

DSpace is a trademark of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

© Cambridge University Library 2003