Working with Digital Repositories: e-Forum Summary

This article was co-written by the e-Forum moderators.

The ALCTS e-Forum “Working with Digital Repositories” took place August 14–15, 2018. Participants gathered together for an online discussion focusing on the current repository ecosystem in the library field, discussing best practices, metadata standards, and staffing models, as well as sharing online resources to support repository managers.

Word cloud of e-Forum summary text

On the first day of the discussion, participants shared how they were working with digital repositories and the repository software used by their libraries. There was representation from people using repositories for institutional repository content, cultural heritage materials, and a mixture of both. Repository systems used by participants included CONTENTdm, Islandora, DSpace, bepress, and a variety of other repository solutions. Enforcing metadata consistency is an issue for many, and participants described techniques such as metadata templates and drop down menus for metadata entry as helpful. Some participants share metadata records from their repositories with the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), and having in place feeds that are compliant with the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) is key to facilitating such metadata sharing.

Discussion on the second day continued many themes from the first. People continued to share best practices and documentation, as well as strategies for sharing metadata with aggregators. Participants discussed staffing models for digital repositories, describing the organizational structures at their institutions. These ranged from robust cross-departmental and cross-library efforts involving many staff and students, to individuals who were singularly responsible for the management of the repository.

While discussing the major challenges involved in digital repository development and management, many participants raised the issue of dealing with legacy metadata, in terms of both remediation in order to meet best practices and preparation for migration to new platforms. One participant mentioned the importance of developing a metadata application profile (MAP), which can both guide remediation efforts and encourage or enforce the creation of conformant metadata going forward. The Bridge2Hyku project was referenced as a tool for aiding institutions migrating metadata and content from CONTENTdm to Hyku or Hyrax-based repository platforms.

Resources for best practices, documentation, and toolkits for repository managers that were shared during the e-Forum included:

Institutional best practices and documentation shared by attendees included:

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