The University of Cincinnati has embarked on a project to build a next-generation UC digital repository, and has joined two new consortia that will greatly advance the creation of this new repository. The initiative is being led by the University of Cincinnati Libraries in partnership with UCIT, the Office of Research, and the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP), the initial partners in what is expected to be a university-wide effort.
A digital repository captures, organizes, makes accessible, enables reuse and reformatting, and preserves for the long-term the university’s intellectual output, university records, and research-significant library collections of unique materials. Faculty, staff, and students will find a repository valuable for making accessible the unpublished papers, reports, images, media, instructional materials, and data sets that result from their research and instruction. Such a repository will also help researchers meet data sharing requirements in grants to the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and in articles of a growing number of journals.
The first partnership that will assist the university in the creation of the digital repository is with Hydra (http://projecthydra.org/), a consortium of major research universities and supporting agencies. UC is the 20th Hydra partner joining other leaders in the digital repository field such as the University of Virginia, Stanford University, and Columbia University. Hydra’s purpose is to build a common, open source framework for multifunction, multipurpose, repository-powered applications. Hydra’s ultimate objective is to produce a community-sourced, sustainable application framework that provides rich and robust repository-powered solutions as an integrated part of an overall digital content management architecture.
Xuemao Wang, dean and university librarian, said that, “UC’s membership in Hydra will place the university within a community of like-minded institutions where we can combine efforts, resources, and priorities to accomplish goals that no single institution could do alone. The strength and commitment of the Hydra community was a key factor in our decision to seek membership.” Responding to UC’s approved membership in the consortium, Tom Cramer, Hydra co-founder and member of its steering committee and chief technology strategist and associate director of the Stanford University Libraries, stated: “We are excited and pleased by the prospect of the University of Cincinnati joining your talents and energies with ours on this exciting project. I think it’s safe to say that no other partner has done the level of due diligence your team exhibited in assessing Hydra before joining.”
The second consortium UC has joined is the Academic Preservation Trust (APTrust) (http://aptrust.org/), an innovative group of 16 universities committed to the creation and management of a sustainable preservation repository that will aggregate academic and research content from many institutions. The intent is to ensure that the scholarly record, now almost entirely digital, survives natural and man made disasters, “bit rot” or the degradation of digital objects over time, and format obsolescence as software evolves and disappears. The APTrust repository will be introduced in 2014, and for faculty and students who deposit items into the UC repository, it will provide a high-degree of assurance that their content will be preserved and available in perpetuity, something that one’s laptop computer or departmental server cannot promise. Suzanne Thorin, program director of APTrust, said of UC, “we are delighted that the University of Cincinnati has joined APTrust. Xuemao Wang’s strong leadership and his staff’s commitment to the future make their membership very important to the success of Academic Preservation Trust.”
“Joining Hydra and APTrust is a great opportunity to collaborate and join forces with other prestigious universities in building a robust and progressive digital repository that will serve the university for years to come. It also advances UC in the rapidly emerging open-source software development movement, which allows us to build staff talent and capacity in ways we have not in the past,” said Nelson Vincent, UC vice president for information technology and chief information officer.
William S. Ball, UC vice president for research added, “preserving research data and all of digital output of research, some of it indefinitely, is crucial for advancing and documenting discovery. A robust repository is also a natural extension of the recently implemented UC Research Directory, which connects UC faculty with researchers internally, in industry and at other universities.”
Realizing the importance of a university-wide effort to build a 21st Century digital repository, Anton Harfmann, associate dean for technology and facilities at DAAP has committed a significant portion of time from the college’s new programmer toward UC’s Hydra effort. “DAAP has already invested heavily in building a digital media database. By participating in the development of a new centralized strategy we see opportunities to capture disparate research, text, images, data sets and other media types–allowing them to be accessed and to collide in ways that have not been considered before,” said Harfmann.