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Telling DSpace Stories at University of Texas Libraries with Colleen Lyon

“Telling DSpace Stories” is a community-led initiative aimed at introducing project leaders and their ideas to one another while providing details about DSpace implementations for the community and beyond. The following interview includes personal observations that may not represent the opinions and views of the University of Texas or the DSpace Project.

Kristi Park from the Texas Digital Library interviewed Colleen Lyon, Scholarly Communications Librarian at the University of Texas Libraries, to learn about the UT Libraries’ DSpace repository, which will undergo an upgrade and rebranding as “Texas ScholarWorks” in Fall 2015.

“What’s your role with DSpace at your organization or institution?”

I am responsible for the overall management of the repository. That includes developing collections and policies, answering questions about metadata and copyright, making preservation decisions, and doing outreach to campus. We have another full-time staff member who manages most of the day-to-day tasks for the repository: uploading and editing items, creating new collections, batch processing, and ongoing communication with collection owners.

“Tell me a little about your organization or institution.”

The University of Texas is a Research I institution that has lots of everything -- students faculty, and staff, along with lots of great scholarly content being created. The UT Libraries have 12 libraries across campus, and we are a founding member of the Texas Digital Library, a consortium of academic libraries in Texas that, among other things, hosts DSpace repositories for its members.

UT Austin is lucky to have the Texas Advanced Computing Center, which provides high performance computing, data visualization and analysis services along with huge storage capabilities. And in addition to the Libraries’ collections, UT is home to the Briscoe Center for American History and the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center both of which have amazing collections. We also have a large graduate student population, including an information school.

“Why did you decide on DSpace?”

The decision to use DSpace predates me, but I believe that the Libraries chose DSpace because it was an out-of-the-box platform that would not require a ton of development work and would be relatively easy to maintain long term. It was also attractive because of the robust support system around it.

“What are your plans for your DSpace repository in the future?”

Currently we are upgrading DSpace to version 4, migrating it to Texas Digital Library systems (off of our own hardware) and implementing some customizations using @mire.

Over the long term, I’d like to really increase the use of Texas ScholarWorks by making it easy to take advantage of. I see DSpace as part of a suite of tools that the library offers for archiving and access and am not as interested in using DSpace for data and multimedia -- there are other solutions for those things.

“What is at the top of your DSpace ‘wish list’?”

Better controls within the web UI for administrators. I’d like to be able to create custom submission forms more easily, for instance. I’m excited that DSpace is moving in this direction with the ability to perform batch uploads in the web UI in version 5. I’m also very excited about the DSpace roadmap that was presented at Open Repositories 2015.

For those interested in the DSpace UI the first project for the 2015 DSpace Roadmap is the  creation of a single UI for DSpace. Evaluating and recommending an alternative architecture will be defined and managed by the DSpace UI Working Group (recent meeting notes).

"What advice would you give to other organizations that are planning to establish a DSpace repository?"

Think through policies clearly and carefully before bringing up the repository. It was very helpful to me, coming in after the repository had been established, to have many of those policies in place. It helps keep you from agonizing over every decision related to collecting, retaining, and preserving items on a case by case basis.