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Report from the DSpace User Group Meeting Held in Conjunction with OAI8

From Bram Luyten, @mire

Heverlee, Belgium  Participants from 9 countries convened on June 18 in Geneva, Switzerland for an intensive one-day DSpace User Group Meeting. The group was a mix of developers, repository managers and service providers. This mix generated many ideas and discussions in an atmosphere of mutual respect and enthusiasm for the DSpace platform. Read on for some of the interesting bits that came up during the course of the day. 

ORCID - Linking researchers and their work

The first speaker of the day was Laure Haak, the Executive Director of ORCID, an international, interdisciplinary, open, not-for-profit, community-driven organization. ORCID collaborates with researchers and organizations across the research community. ORCID's mission is to provide an open registry of persistent unique identifiers for researchers and scholars. On top of this infrastructure, ORCID wants to automate linkages to research works by embedding identifiers in research workflows. The holy grail for a repository manager in this story is the vision of fully automated deposit. If you can rely on an external source of metadata to provide you with an unambiguous link between a specific researcher and his work, you may not need to include the researcher in the submission process at all.

ORCID is not there yet today, but is making steady progress every single month. Haak talked about cases of national adoption in Sweden and the UK. She also showed examples of publishers who already integrated ORCID author lookup in their submission process.

One stakeholder in the DSpace community who is following ORCID very closely is Dryad. Dryad's Todd Vision, who also serves on the board of ORCID, emphasized that the ORCID infrastructure will eventually allow repositories to transcend not only manual metadata entry, but also institution specific identities, name strings for search and browse and isolated data silos. Vision shared Dryad's concrete plans for ORCID IDs. ORCID IDs will not only be used internally but also exposed to make benefits tangible to submitters and to promote uptake. IDs will be associated both with submitters and contributors who don't necessarily have their own Dryad account. ORCID IDs will be captured when received from publishers, either directly or through CrossRef, authors and coauthors.

Haak and Vision both recommended that the DSpace community evaluate support for OAuth, an open authentication system that would allow login and DSpace EPerson creation through ORCIDs. This would mean that researchers who already have an account on ORCID don't need to get a separate new password for DSpace.

Every time a researcher is being asked to enter information into a system already entered elsewhere, a puppy dies (Todd Vision).

Repository Interoperability: ResourceSync and SWORD2

DSpace committer and cottagelabs co-founder Richard Jones talked about the process of implementing and improving SWORD2 and ResourceSync support in DSpace. Similar to OAI-PMH, SWORD2 and ResourceSync are both protocols that allow external systems to interact with metadata and files in DSpace. While OAI-PMH was initially developed as a protocol very specific to repositories, ResourceSync really embraces the fundamental concepts of the web and could work on any web system displaying resources online. During this journey of implementing new standards, Richard discovered several areas of DSpace with room for improvement. These areas included provenance, identifiers for unarchived workspace items, user friendly packager plugin support and delegated authorizations.

Hidden Gems: New and improved DSpace functionality

@mire's Bram Luyten showcased a number of recent DSpace improvements. He illustrated how the use of JIRA and Github made the community more open and transparent over the last years. The audience was particularly interested in the REST-API developments where Australian service provider Wijiti already made an implementation available with over 60 endpoints.

European Repository Managers

The three repository managers who presented their local uses of DSpace were a nice testament to the diversity of the DSpace community. Marina Muilwijk from the University of Utrecht talked about Igitur, a custom repository front end for DSpace. In January 2013 they were the second DSpace instance in the webometrics ranking after MIT's DSpace. The institution is currently going through a DSpace upgrade with support from @mire in which the custom front end functionality will be implemented in XML User Interface. They also intend to become early adopters of the DSpace REST API.

Vlastimil Krejčíř, Masaryk University, presented an entertaining comparison between mathematicians and philosophers from his experience as a developer, working on separate DSpace projects with each of these communities. The Czech Digital Mathematics Library now contains many mathematics specific customizations to DSpace and is a partner of EUDML, the European Digital Mathematics Library. Their Digital Library of the Faculty of Arts is currently in beta.

Back in 2004 we decided to adopt DSpace and we have not regretted this decision ever since. The Java codebase and in particular the XML User Interface allows us to implement the customizations we need. (Vlastimil Krejčíř)

Stefania Arabito and Jordan Piščanc shared how they were able to implement an identifier service for NBN-IT, a national identifier scheme in Italy. NBN stands for National Bibliography Number. Through this functionality they are now able to offer their patrons compliance with Italian requirements for Legal Deposit through their DSpace service, OpenstarTs. In Italy, the association of the NBN to a resource certifies that the resource has been submitted for legal deposit. Italy is not the only European country using NBN, it is also used in countries including Norway, Sweden and Germany.

DuraSpace Outlook on DSpace Future

Michele Kimpton, CEO, and Tim Donohue, technical lead for the DSpace project, gave remote presentations about DuraSpace, its goals, responsibilities in response to DSpace and new initiatives for this year. Michele Kimpton's slides are available here:

Tim Donohue's presentation provided an update focused on the DSpace RoadMap, as well as on the recent DSpace Vision discussions and meetings. He also presented an early draft of the DSpace Vision statement. Tim Donohue's slides are available here:

Donohue reported that over the last few months, stakeholders in the DSpace community have been gathering ideas about the 3-5 year development roadmap for the platform. While the final strategy still needs to emerge, it is already clear that institutions really depend on some of the solid, core, features of DSpace. The user group participants were enthusiastic about the ideas to improve the usability and management of DSpace by offering more of the configuration and customization through the user interface instead of the system back-end. In this context, Donohue compared his vision of the DSpace future to Wordpress: simple at the core but versatile enough to cover a wide range of usecases and needs around the globe.

Download the Slides

@mire will make the presented content available in a DSpace repository. In the meanwhile, all of the materials are already available in a bulk zipfile.

This event was organized by @mire and DuraSpace with logistical support from the OAI8 Conference organizers. We jointly thank all the attendees and speakers for their participation and hope to meet you again prior to OAI8 in June 2015.