Steven Chabot – A Project Analysis of DSpace

November 14, 2006

Steven Chabot has posted an analysis of the DSpace project and software (Full report in PDF).

As has been addressed, there are some problems with DSpace. In the first place, the software is open source. While this does come with its own benefits, it also comes with its own problems. Commercial support for the software does not exist at this time, neither for installation nor for later technical issues. Libraries used to working with commercial software or ILS vendors may find implementation difficult. Furthermore, some who have previously implemented the software have had problems with performance while updating files and with the structure of the communities, although these may have been fixed in successive releases of the software.

The major difficulty we have found is with DSpace’s handling of metadata. While we feel that the number of fields in Dublin Core is adequate for most if not all uses (DCMI Usage Board 2006), we are troubled by the lack of authority control when completing its fields. Without some control over uniform titles, authors and subjects accessing the items in the future will very problematic. However, this could be solved at an institutional policy level, with guidelines for submission and librarians or faculty having roles in the “workflow” overseeing metadata. While there is no scope in this paper for a discussion of necessity of controlled vocabulary, we will stress that this necessity does not just apply to paper documents, but to digital ones as well.

Comment: Steven focuses primarily on published literature, so the analysis is a little out of date in places.

The point on lack of visible commercial support is an interesting one; I know a couple of small to medium sized companies who might offer technical support (at least, possibly repository setup support also) for DSpace. Perhaps now is the time the community should be helping these companies to promote themselves?


3 Responses to “Steven Chabot – A Project Analysis of DSpace”

  1. schabot Says:

    Hi, thanks your your comments.

    As for your first point, in what way do you mean I focus on published literature? Do you mean in my discussion of DSpace, or in my citations. Because if you mean that I look at DSpace as a repository for published literature, then I don’t think I mentioned published literature once in the analysis. I do mention DSpace as a repository for research in general, and I do also mention the possibility for DSpace to replace commercial publishing, but I think the only think I only current publishing once on page two:

    to implement a central location where faculty, departments, disciplines, labs and research centres could store their published [and] pre-published research for access by others and long-term archivization

    Although I see I missed an ‘and’, that might be the confusion.

  2. ojd20 Says:

    Sorry, I wasn’t clear, I meant in your citations. I’m aware that it can be hard to find authoritative information on DSpace and to sort out what’s up to date and what isn’t, and that the published literature on DSpace is fairly sparse.

    It’s valuable with DSpace to make a clear distinction between the original MIT/HP project and the ongoing open collaboration, open source project that DSpace is today. This transition (“giving it away”) is a huge achievement on the part of the original project team.

    DSpace has moved on from being platform specific; it can be easily installed on Windows, Linux or OSX.

  3. schabot Says:

    Ok, thanks. I agree with what you have to say, and they are things I was aware of, particularly the way open source projects work–given the assignment had to relate to its analysis for hypothetical unfamiliar librarians it was something I couldn’t really discuss, although I would have liked to.

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