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DSpace users compare notes

Representatives of research institutions, libraries and cultural heritage institutions from around the world came to MIT for the inaugural DSpace users group meeting last month.

DSpace is a digital institutional repository that allows capture, storage, indexing, preservation and redistribution of material in digital formats. The open-source software system is freely available to research institutions worldwide.

Since its launch just over a year ago by MIT Libraries and Hewlett-Packard, DSpace has been downloaded more than 8,000 times, adopted for use by more than 100 organizations, and recognized by IEEE Spectrum as a technological "Holy Grail ... a long-standing quest that could fundamentally change something about our lives."

MacKenzie Smith, MIT Libraries' associate director for technology, helped organize the users group meeting, which served as a forum for early adopters to share their experiences, ideas and concerns about DSpace.

"While there's no question that institutional repositories are of high value, they are still very much works in progress," she said.

Attendees at the meeting learned how others were using the software and identified potential areas for collaboration. Presentations revealed that DSpace is being used for e-journal publishing, cultural material collection and electronic records management, in addition to its basic function as an institutional repository.

As a result of the meeting, the DSpace Federation (originally a community of early DSpace adopters) will now be open to all institutions, so system architects and developers can share in designing, maintaining and enhancing the system. The DSpace Federation also will look at other opportunities for collaboration on issues such as long-term governance, advocacy, marketing and assessment. More information is at

DSpace at MIT has been growing steadily since November 2002. With the recent addition of the Research Laboratory for Electronics collection, the repository now holds 3,565 items within its 31 collections, representing more than 2,500 MIT authors.

Faculty members, departments, labs and centers are encouraged to contribute their digital collections to DSpace. To learn more, contact Margret Branschofsky at or 253-1293. For more information on DSpace at MIT, visit

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 14, 2004.

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