The National Children’s Advocacy Center


CALiO™ - The National Children's Advocacy Center's Child Abuse Library Online

The National Children's Advocacy Center (NCAC), located in Huntsville, Alabama, USA is a non-profit agency that addresses issues related to child abuse. It was founded in the 1980s. There are now more than 900 Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs) around the U.S. and in 19 countries, with the model being adopted in 20 other countries as well.

The Children's Advocacy Center model establishes a formal working relationship between community law enforcement, health providers, and other organizations to enable coordinated services for prevention, family support, victim therapy, investigation of cases, and prosecution of perpetrators of child abuse. Each local CAC must adopt the model by establishing the formal community relationships, and must meet standards to be accredited by the National Children's Alliance.

The National Children's Advocacy Center provides training and technical support for professionals at CACs. In addition, it provides training and advisory assistance to people working in other organizations who encounter child abuse, such as child welfare, social services, hospitals, law enforcement, churches, etc.

"Most solutions we looked at were designed for institutions with substantially greater funding - beyond anything NCAC CALiO™ could afford. Digital Commons and Open Repository, for example, are robust platforms with customized services that are nice to have, but we could not afford to go that route. CALiO™ is about gathering practical resources for use in the field by professionals rather than archiving local resources. With DSpaceDirect we have an easy-to-use, affordable way to provide full text access to our national and global users." -- Dr. David King, Founder, The National Children's Advocacy Center's Child Abuse Library Online, The National Children's Advocacy Center

Repository Overview

The library at National Children's Advocacy Center began providing in-house access to electronic resources in 2003 in support of its clinical services for abused children and its training programs for child abuse professionals. Within 2 years, access to electronic resources was extended to other CACs nationally.

The library's subscription resources are accessible only by professionals at accredited Children's Advocacy Centers. However, the online library has always included open access resources that are available to all users around the world.

As a non-profit organization with limited funding, the National Children's Advocacy Center does not have in-house IT systems and staff. Library online hosting services are outsourced. The NCAC librarians and web designer handle policy, content, and coordination of services, as well as reference and information services internally and to all CACs.

CALiO™ - the Child Abuse Library Online - has consolidated all of its publicly-accessible resources with DSpaceDirect. The CALiO™ service model emphasizes success - users are provided ease of searching with immediate access to full text resources. Dr. King emphasizes, "CALiO delivers documents, not citations that users must then hunt down."

The NCAC needed a platform that could provide global access to open source resources pertaining to child abuse. The criteria for a host platform included:

  • Support for multiple formats and types of resources
  • Meet all OAI standards for open source repositories
  • Global access 24/7
  • Highly reliable, professional hosting IT systems and services
  • Cost within the limited budget of the organization
  • Adaptable to meet NCAC online service priorities

"We investigated a number of options including hosted solutions as well as setting up our own system," said Dr. King. "DSpaceDirect met all NCAC criteria. I was already familiar with DSpace as the repository technology behind many university institutional repositories, so I was familiar with the underlying platform for DSpaceDirect," he added.


There are some capabilities that NCAC would like to see in future versions of DSpaceDirect. Some CALiO™ resources are proprietary or only available to NCAC subscribers. The ability to limit access by community rather than by IP address would be an asset.

Improved accessibility and ease of use are also high on NCAC's list of desired features. Dr. King feels that many repository platforms are not user friendly. He says, "CALiO™ users are not interested in becoming researchers. Strategies and techniques for basic access to resources are not that intuitive. This is especially true for bibliographic databases." CALiO™ has implemented a simple approach, similar to a Google search box, with DSpaceDirect that yields collections of relevant documents without having to go to two or three different databases or employ multiple steps for retrieving documents.

Most institutional repositories "own" their digital content. CALiO™ is a global library with curators who pull together resources on a topic for a worldwide audience. So, in addition to its own content, CALiO™ is an aggregator of links, citations, and records of open access publications. A generic copyright policy that presumes that only locally-produced resources will appear in a repository is inadequate for this kind of broader collection. A more flexible approach to expressing IP rights and policies would be helpful.

A pilot global search of CALiO™ collections has been publicly available since March 2014. More than 6,500 searches have been completed. Comments have largely been gratitude for providing access to useful sets of resources. The final web site, where search will be featured "front and center" is under development.

Among the highest priorities for CALiO™ was a simple method for users to easily search and retrieve resources relevant to their needs. This required a very user-friendly interface on the CALiO™ website that would query the repository and then display the results seamlessly.

It was important that the public search facility be accessible to the world. However, it was also desirable that resources in the repository also be included in searches of subscription resources by professionals at Children's Advocacy Centers.

All users of the CALiO™ website will be greeted by a home page that prominently displays the CALiO™ Collections Search box, which queries the DSpaceDirect hosted repository and displays results on a CALiO™ page.

Pre-scripted search topics of high interest to professionals working in fields dealing with child abuse provide a convenient search alternative to keyword searching. (To test the CALiO™ Search system, please remember that everything in the collection pertains in some way to child abuse. Searches on other topics, like literature, politics or business topics, will be unsuccessful).

Users from Children's Advocacy Centers, who log into the CALiO™ system, receive a more robust search capability, called CALiO™ SuperSearch, which queries all subscription databases as well as the DSpaceDirect hosted repository, displaying both subscription and open access resources in one integrated listing.

The mechanism for accomplishing this integrated, simplified approach was by connecting the DSpaceDirect database to the EBSCO subscription databases using the EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS). The EDS system enables NCAC to limit the CALiO™ public search queries to the open source DSpaceDirect hosted repository collection, while affording full access to both the open access and subscription resources to users from Children's Advocacy Centers.

At the time, this approach had not been attempted (to our knowledge) by other libraries, which commonly maintain separation between their repository and their subscription databases. The success of the approach was heavily dependent on the standardized structure of DSpace records and the wide adoption of DSpace as a platform.

CALiO™ Collections in the institutional repository hosted by DSpaceDirect currently contains more than 1,600 records linking to print documents and audio/visual items, growing at a rate of about 50-100 per month. The beta of the public access CALiO™ Collections Search launched in March 2014, with very little promotion. It has had almost 6,500 searches over that short period. A sizable increase in use is expected after the launch of the new CALiO™ web site, which will receive much more publicity.

The IT professionals associated with DSpaceDirect have provided highly professional services to NCAC. Assistance with moving older bibliographic records into the DSpace platform was handled expertly, resolving all issues along the way. Training in the use of the system for NCAC staff was helpful, and follow-up questions responded to promptly. Hosting has, to date, gone without a glitch. "We are very pleased with the service and feel that DSpaceDirect could be of interest as a repository solution for many more smaller organizations," said Dr. King.