Birkbeck, University of London SOURCE: Sharing Objects Under Repository Control with Everyone


Watch a multimedia version of the below report.

Context of the Project:

The SOURCE project has been funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) for two years as part of the Capital Programme, under the Tools and Innovations strand. The project is based at Birkbeck College Library, and is working on behalf of the Bloomsbury Colleges Consortium which includes six colleges: The Institute of Education, The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, The Royal Veterinarian College, The School of Oriental and African Studies, The School of Pharmacy and Birkbeck College. Our other primary project partners are the National Learning Object Repository Jorum and the Open Knowledge Initiative.

Project Aim:

The primary aim of the SOURCE project is to create a standard and commonly used repository “plug” which will enable a bulk migration tool to “plug-in” and automatically transfer content from one repository to another; this is reflected in the name of the project: Sharing Objects Under Repository Control with Everyone. This project will therefore create two new tools to use with digital repositories:

So what is the point of creating a tool that can move content from one repository to another? The effect we want to see this tool have on UK higher education can be reflected in the set of outcomes or vision statements we have for this project.

Project Outcomes and Vision:

Depending on your point of view, the overall affect that we want this project to have on UK HE is a more competitive and open digital repository environment: one that encourages institutions to try repositories without having to fear that their content will be “locked in” (parallels can be drawn with the current state of proprietary VLE APIs).  In addition, we see this competitive repository environment as beneficial to the repository vendor who can further specialise for their users/customers and not try and be everything to everyone (the 80/20 rule being a good developers benchmark to set). The Open Source Repository Community can also benefit from this project by enabling them to develop interoperable standards side-by-side with vendor repositories without having to keep pace with all “the latest cutting-edge” features and functionality. The HE/FE administrator(s) benefits the most by encouraging this type of “service oriented approach / architecture”, as it directly acts as a way to free up the institution’s intellectual digital property for use in other systems beyond that of a Virtual Learning Environment or single Institutional Research repository; other ubiquitous HE systems like the library catalogue and student/staff directory -along with future technologies such as image management systems and Wikis- are made available for collaboration and greater reuse.

Which Repositories Should We Use?

So which repositories will we be examining? As of the start of the SOURCE project, we have agreement from three vendor repositories that they will participate and integrate these tools into their systems. This includes: Harvest Road’s Hive, Intralect’s Intralibrary and The Learning Edge’s Equella. The SOURCE project will also work with one Open Source repository to develop tools for integration. Thus far it is the Open Source Fedora repository service which offers the most extensibility for development. However, prior to selecting the repositories that SOURCE will work with, we will survey the higher education community to establish which repositories are most likely to be the most significant in years to come. It is important to note that documentation and support for other repositories that wish to create SOURCE tools for their architecture will be provided via the Open Knowledge Initiatives web site and SourceForge. Other platforms that will be considered and examined for interoperability will be Content Management Systems by Blackboard, WebCT, Moodle, and Sakai: all of which have repository functionality partially built into their systems.

Printed from:
Date printed: 18/01/2019