“Enovation proved to be an expert and helpful partner on this project. At all times they worked closely with our team and were able to overcome any issues we encountered. We are delighted to have been able to meet our deadlines and that the project has been so successful.”
SCDDC & DSpace
When you step into South Dublin County Council’s (SDCC) County Library in Tallaght you get a real sense of technology. There are computers in every corner of the ultra-modern building with people of all ages typing and browsing away, as well as books on every subject imaginable. The library is a true reflection of SDCC’s progressive attitude and their use of technology to improve and enable the lives of people living in the community.
SDCC has won a number of awards both for the County Library building and for customer service using new technologies. Following on from this, SDCC have taken on the task of digitally archiving all their local history and genealogy files in an integrated local studies project. They are the first public, non-academic library in Ireland to do so and it is no small task; there are literally thousands of files and photos stored in filing cabinets, computers and boxes in the County Library offices, as well as material previously only in hard copy in the library’s Local Studies Collection.
The project is a result of the growing demand for access to local studies and family history information from local people and Irish descendents living abroad. The library has a local studies team that deal with all the queries. However, the task can be very time-consuming and the sheer volume of material is difficult to make available while at the same time ensuring its preservation. A major concern for library staff is the long term preservation of such valuable files and photos. Library staff knew that a system of scanning and storing items means a copy will be safely stored in digital format in case the originals fade or deteriorate.
“It is about efficiency for the library,” said Libraries Coordinator Síle Coleman. “Each time we got a request it took a long time to collate the information because it was in so many different places and so many different formats. We needed an easily searchable system that would give us access to large quantities of information for faster retrieval times. It made sense that we would use archiving technology to do the job.”
One of the key requirements for the library was to have three systems:
- An internal working system to which only library staff can upload files.
- A publicly-accessible external system available outside the library via the Internet which would contain some of the data available in the internal system.
- A publicly-accessible external system available in the library which would contain additional material subject to use within the library. This would contain material which the library service did not have rights to make available on the Internet.
One motivation for having an internal and an external instance is the number of documents of varying sizes, some more than 100MB. These files are not suitable for a web environment because of their size, but are not resource hungry in an internal network. They usually have a smaller version that is an appropriate size for the web environment. Called ‘Dark Preservation’, the SDCC library staff also wanted a process for copying the web versions from the internal to the external system. This method also allows for full preservation of archival quality files on the internal instance. Aside from the difference in content, the behavior and look and feel of both instances was to be identical.
The initial material types used in the project was images, maps, newspapers from 1994 to date, periodicals, paper files, wma, CD Audio, DVD files and mp3 files. This content is to increase over time as the local studies team continued to scan local information books and documents using optical character recognition technology.
DSpace & Enovation Solutions, Easy Decisions
Enovation Solutions is one of Ireland’s leading open source consultancy companies. Every project is managed to completion by senior project management personnel with a focus on quality, customer satisfaction and ongoing development support. Enovation has the added advantage of years of invaluable expertise supporting e-Learning and repository projects in many of the third level institutions in Ireland. This was of particular importance to SDCC who looked at Enovation’s previous repository implementations at Trinity College, University of Limerick and University College Dublin before also choosing to go with DSpace technology.
“Choosing DSpace for the project was an easy decision for South Dublin Libraries,” said Sile. “During the tender process we looked at Trinity’s DSpace and we were very impressed with both the functionality and the look and feel of the system. It also easily facilitated the internal and external instances, a key project requirement.”
Technical Project Requirements
DSpace’s open source flexibility allowed for all of SDCC’s specific technical requirements as outlined below:
File Formats - The Local Studies Group have artifacts in multiple formats i.e. video, image, audio.
Import/Translation of images - The library has over 10k images which will need to be initially imported to DSpace and converted in size to allow for easier browsing on the external instance. JAI (Java Advanced Imaging) will be used for the manipulation of images.
DSpace Workflows - To allow consistency and quality, the artifacts submitted to the Local Studies Preservation System will follow a defined process flow. DSpace workflows allow submissions to be checked before entering the internal and external repository.
Cosmetic & Textual Changes - The SDCC Libraries site has undergone major redevelopment with significant design changes and the Libraries Group wanted to reflect these changes in the archiving system. South Dublin Libraries also wished to implement an Irish language version of the system
Authentication & Access - For the purpose of identifying users, the roles of users are detailed below: Internal Instance 1. Library Administrators. 2. Members of SDCC. External Instance 1. Library Administrators. 2. Members of SDCC. 3. Public (connecting from Library). 4. Public (connecting from Internet).
Public User Access Control - The public need to be able to upload items into the external system. However, the Library staff wanted a verification process set up in DSpace to review the items before they are published. Once uploaded, the system only allows the user to change their own item and they will receive a mail notification once an item has been uploaded.
Accessibility Options - The external DSpace instance will comply with WAI compliance and is accessible to and useable by everyone, regardless of physical, sensory or cognitive disabilities, and/or the browsing device or assistive technology being used.
Copyright - The Local Studies team has copyright statements associated with certain artifacts. The majority of items are covered by a Creative Commons global statement which has been supplied to Enovation.
Community & Collection Sync - An automatic CRON process will synchronise communities and collections from the internal to external instance. Handles/URL’s Only the internal instance will create handles/Url’s for each uploaded item. This is because the items featured on the external instance are a subset of the items on the internal instance.
Backup - The backup of the internal instance is an essential element of the project.
Enovation also provided DSpace training to the administrative library staff at SDCC and continue to provide on-going support and maintenance for the project.
Where they want to be
Two years after it started in May 2008, the South Dublin Libraries team are exactly where they want to be with the libraries project. The internal and external DSpace instances are up and running, and both instances are in line with the SDCC branding. All the technical project requirements have also been met, including the 3-layers of accessibility by administrative staff, library staff and the public. The overall goal of this project was time-saving and efficiency; once launched DSpace will save the local studies team a huge amount of time and effort as the full text of each of the items is searchable, which makes it easy for anyone to search and print from the system.
Liam Ryan, Solutions Consultant with Enovation Solutions, had this to say about the project: “This has been an exciting project for everyone involved. Since it kicked off in May 2008, it has evolved hugely and we are delighted that we could meet all of SDCC’s requirements. The perseverance and professionalism on both sides made this the successful project it is today.”
The system has been officially named ‘Source’ and will be formally launched during Dublin Innovates Week in 2010.