Managing Cultural Heritage with DSpace–Yes We Can!

From Michele Mennielli, International Business Developer 4Science  

Rome, Italy  DSpace provides many of the features of a Digital Library Asset Management System (DAMS), indeed it is already used by hundreds of institutions all around the world as a DAMS. DSpace stores, preserves and disseminates digital cultural heritage content fulfilling the four main tasks required of any Digital Library System:

1. ingestion of digital objects together with their metadata;

2. management and curation of digital objects;

3. easy access to the digital objects, by both listing and searching;

4. long-term preservation of the digital objects.

4Science has identified 4 different areas that could be enhanced to better meet the continuously evolving needs of the libraries: entities relationships; image management; video/audio streaming; OCR.  Relationships between digital objects and between them and other entities (such as persons, events, places, etc.) are key to managing cultural heritage objects because it allows their contextualization.  When it comes to images, visualization, systems must provide the ability to adapt images to different screen sizes and zoom levels without the need to download, along with the ability to give selected users access to different resolutions.  Then there’s the audio/video management with the need to introduce adaptive streaming to reduce bandwidth consumption.  OCR (Optical Character Recognition) functionalities allow the conversion of images into computer-recognizable text for editing, searching, displaying and using of that text.

To answer to these new challenges we started from DSpace-CRIS,  which already allows extensions of the existing data model, the definition of new entities (e.g. persons, places, events, concepts etc.) and the customization of the existing ones, to then describe digital objects in/with their contextual relationships.  As announced to the Community in previous issues of DuraSpace Digest, we have already developed some DSpace add-ons. Three of those add-ons can complete the picture described in this article because they deal with: image visualisation (IIIF Image Viewer); audio/video management (Video/Audio Streaming); Optical Character Recognition (OCR Module).  Integration with image viewers and media servers, compliance with interoperability standards, and enhancement of the data model could together be the first steps toward a new generation of out-of-the box Digital Library Management Systems, with advanced data and metadata management capabilities.

Our ultimate goal is to fully release everything we develop in open source, so we all can benefit from what we do. To do so and to better identify the priorities in developing the next features and functionalities, we need your support, ideas and contributions. In this regard, we would like to welcome the Kuwait University that chose us for their Digital Library for Theses project!