DSpace , the MIT Libraries/Hewlett- Packard joint development project to build a sustainable digital repository of MIT research, has just embarked on a testing period to gain an understanding of how contributors will use the system and what features they would find most useful.
Data collected during this Early Adopter phase also will help the DSpace business team predict costs and develop a business plan for long-term operation of the repository.
The four participating communities are the Sloan School of Management; the Department of Ocean Engineering; the Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development; and the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems. Selected to reflect different types of MIT organizational units representing a variety of user needs, the Early Adopters will submit digital items to collections within their own "communities" that represent their organizations.
This beta test of the system marks a milestone in the two-year development project that will provide MIT research communities with a reliable home for their digital research products while simultaneously distributing them for worldwide consumption. The system provides flexible submission and workflow features and powerful search and retrieval capabilities, as well as reliable digital storage and preservation safeguards.
The communities that will be beta testing DSpace will be utilizing it in different ways. Sloan, the largest community to have an early presence in DSpace, will submit the "Sloan School Working Papers" as its first DSpace digital collection. DSpace also will be integrated with the SloanSpace portal and collaborative system to capture working papers directly as they are completed in that system.
For the Department of Ocean Engineering, the amount of data collected and processed daily in the field of ocean sciences, engineering and management is vast and is expected to increase considerably in the future. A reliable digital repository is a promising solution to storing and making available this material. Researchers in the Department of Ocean Engineering will submit items not only in text format, but also data sets produced by geographic information systems.
The DSpace coordinators for the Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development (CTPID) are working with their 10 member programs to develop web materials appropriate for each groups' distinct mission. Issues for the team include access policies, easy document submission, and organizing intellectual work not associated with an existing CTPID program.
The Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS) is currently converting its collection of more than 1,500 technical reports from print to digital files. These will form the largest initial collection of items in DSpace, and will be supplemented continually with new reports.
In addition to these four groups' material, DSpace will include materials from the MIT Press and the Networked Computer Science Technical Reference Library project (NCSTRL). DSpace will store more than 100 MIT Press out-of-print books in digital form; use of this material will help MIT Press determine the level of interest that exists for these books. Another rich source of research to be entered into DSpace during this beta test phase is the digital collection of technical reports from the Networked Computer Science Technical Reference Library (NCSTRL) project, an earlier effort of the Laboratory for Computer Science and the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. These collections will provide additional content for the repository when it goes live later this year.
DSpace is actively looking for other MIT communities to participate. For additional information about setting up a community on DSpace, contact Margret Branschofsky, the DSpace project faculty liaison at firstname.lastname@example.org or x3-1293. For general information about DSpace see the web site or contact email@example.com.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 13, 2002.