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The Magazine of Digital Library Research

D-Lib Magazine

May/June 2016
Volume 22, Number 5/6
Table of Contents


Report from the Sixth Annual DuraSpace Member Summit, March 2016

Carol Minton Morris

DOI: 10.1045/may2016-morris


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The Sixth Annual DuraSpace Member Summit was held March 16 - 17, 2016 at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC. There were both formal and informal discussions about the various open source projects that DuraSpace members participation in, the current state of the scholarly ecosystem, opportunities on the horizon, and the announced intent to merge DuraSapce and LYRASIS organizations.


1 Introduction

Magnolia trees and spring flowers were in full bloom for the Sixth Annual DuraSpace Member Summit held March 16 - 17, 2016 at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC. DuraSpace members were interested in formal and informal conversations about the open source projects in which they primarily participate, the general state of the scholarly ecosystem, emerging opportunities, and of course, the recently announced intent to merge with LYRASIS.


2 Day One

DuraSpace Board of Directors Chair Laura Wood, Director, Tisch Library, Tufts University, welcomed attendees by referring to the statement on the homepage, "We believe that preserving the world's intellectual, cultural and scientific heritage is vital," as a shared expression of how deeply member institutions' were committed to the work that DuraSpace does and that the community does together. She reminded members that the intent to merge is not a final decision, but rather a public phase of exploration and investigation.

Debra Hanken Kurtz, CEO of DuraSpace, reviewed DuraSpace advances, starting with a look at the adoption of DSpace by almost 2,000 repositories since 2008 while challenging the group to help identify even more. She pointed to developing new partnerships and projects including Hydra and Hydra-in-a-box, multiple software releases across all the projects, staff additions, and key fundraising achievements as highlights of her presentation.

Robert Miller, CEO of LYRASIS, introduced himself and assured members that building trust, understanding and confidence is driving merger investigations forward between the two organizations. He congratulated DuraSpace members on building a strong organization with successful strategies for serving scholarship.

Miller presented a picture of LYRASIS' history that stretches back to a 1936 WPA initiative, and outlined organizational services that include an eResources purchasing program, a problem-solving sales team and a support team offering a wide-range of consulting and training opportunities. LYRASIS brings 4,000+ annual users and 80+ vendor partners together with collections-holding organizations across fields, including archives, libraries and museums. He also reviewed the CollectionSpace and ArchivesSpace community supported software programs.

Discussions about the intent to merge DuraSpace and LYRASIS over both days centered around support for the DuraSpace brand and the values that DuraSpace represents. Questions emerged about how the right value would be reflected in a name, mission and vision to inspire what a merged organization would become in the future.


2.1 Project Updates

Andrew Woods, Fedora Tech Lead, led the Fedora update with a question about how the project might invest strong community energy to build a forward-thinking foundation to ensure a code base that successfully evolves as institutional use increases. He traced steady member growth from 41 in 2013 to 76 in 2015. Deeper engagement with the community (400+ participants in hands-on training and workshops) coupled with ongoing software improvements (five releases in 2015) will help Fedora reach its target of 100 members in 2016. Woods suggested that a technical focus on specification versus implementation could decrease the code needed to update software, and would potentially invite greater architectural innovation.

Finally, he pointed out that the strong Fedora culture of support, encouragement, and engagement is what creates sustainable open source projects — Fedora as well as others. He asked that members enable their staffs, teams, and community to participate, get involved and be a part of Fedora's future.

David Lewis, Dean of University Library at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and chair of the DSpace steering group, followed with a look at DSpace challenges and advances. He reviewed the remarkable community-wide initiative to collaboratively test and select a single user interface and highlighted the upcoming release of DSpace 6.0 that will enable the implementation of the new user interface. He unveiled the recently approved vision and mission for the DSpace Project. He acknowledged the community effort, input and support that went into developing a vision, and the mission to establish a strong marketplace position for DSpace:

In spite of steady growth of DSpace repository adoption worldwide, from 510 in 2009 to 1,974 in 2016, DSpace has gained relatively few members from outside of North America. Increased outreach and engagement to international users is a key priority for the project going forward.

Dean Krafft, Chief Technology Strategist and Director of Information Technology, Cornell University Library, and Dr. Mike Conlon, VIVO Project Director and Emeritus Faculty, Clinical and Translational Science Institute, College of Medicine, University of Florida, followed with a review of VIVO's accomplishments led by the fact that there are now 133 VIVOs in 26 countries along with a team of committers at several institutions who contribute to advancing the software. The audience was reminded that VIVO is a general purpose semantic web data management system for research in geological sciences, climate change, atmospheric and space physics, and deep carbon science. In addition, VIVO is a contributor to, and participant in, community projects and initiatives that include CTSA Search, Digital Science, Open RIF, ORCiD, SHARE, and Karma.

Looking ahead, Conlon urged attendees who would be attending the Force 16 Conference in Portland (April 17-19, 2016) to watch for a demonstration and introduction to "Open VIVO" — a hosted VIVO that anyone can join with an ORCiD identifier and password. He closed with an invitation to the Seventh Annual VIVO Conference that will be held in Denver, Colorado, August 17-19, 2016.


2.2 Keynote

Tyler Walters, Dean, University Libraries and Professor, Virginia Tech, is also the Director of SHARE (SHared Access Research Ecosystem). He offered the afternoon's closing keynote with an overview of the SHARE vision to maximize research impact by building a free and open data set across the research lifecycle. To make open access to research data a reality Walters reminded the audience that better infrastructure would be needed. Metadata, standards, identifiers, code platforms, and APIs will contribute to making information more machine readable and discoverable. There is an increasing volume of content with a corresponding need for distribution of custodial responsibility. He said, "There is no big server in a room somewhere, it (research information) is a distributed web of information."

The research lifecycle is important because significant content and data may be generated at any point. SHARE aims to enable access to research data along with an understanding of where content fits in the lifecycle as part of the record of scholarship. The current SHARE Notify public beta search interface is set to be improved as additional funding is made available. More than 5 million research release events from 99 content providers can now be accessed through SHARE. Harmonization of data across regions of the world is underway to improve contribution to, access, and use of SHARE Notify.

Walters concluded by asking the audience to provide feedback on SHARE Notify. The SHARE team is looking for communities to tell them what they want to do with the data as the project moves forward.


3 Day Two

Day two of the DuraSpace Summit consisted of gathering feedback from table breakouts followed by in-depth project sessions where current strategies and technology roadmaps were discussed to gather member feedback.


3.1 DSpace

With new DSpace users from 133 countries registering repositories each month, DSpace members are concerned with ensuring that the software keeps pace with global user needs and for establishing engagement strategies for bringing diverse users into the DSpace community.

DSpace members reviewed the results of the User Interface (UI) Prototype Challenge and discussed options for moving forward towards selection of a single UI. Key considerations in the community-led UI initiative were that too much developer time and resources were being spent maintaining two separate UIs, community requests for a more modern UI, and preservation of DSpace's "out-of-the-boxness". The UI working group has narrowed choices down to two UI options: Java Enterprise server-side templating or Java Enterprise with client-side Javascript templating. The release of DSpace 6.0 is expected in May which will establish the foundation for implementing a new UI.


3.2 Fedora

Fedora members discussed methods for meeting their 2016 membership campaign goal of 100 members citing direct participation by more institutions as a way to strengthen the whole project. Suggestions for outreach to smaller institutions included establishing an interest group and emphasizing that the Fedora repository framework is used by many organizations outside of traditional academic libraries and includes cultural heritage organizations.

Hands-on training and growing knowledge by building a formal, well-documented curriculum has increased the number of people who are active Fedora learners, developers, teachers and advocates. Continuing to engage users with training opportunities, working with service providers who support a variety of types of organizations, and presenting turnkey implementation approaches are seen as critical tasks for expanding international Fedora usage.

The nature of Fedora 4, a modular repository framework that scales, has linked data capabilities, provides research data support, is easier to develop with, and more. Recent community work towards developing a stable, independently-versioned Fedora RESTful API will make it possible for future users to adopt alternative implementations that meet the Fedora specification. Attendees discussed the idea of a bundled trademark as a way to brand the product as part of a technology stack to ensure that the community understands the value of having "Fedora inside".


3.3 VIVO

The opening VIVO session addressed the nature of VIVO as an application specifically for representing scholarship and supporting research discovery, and then as a more general semantic web data management tool, capable of hosting other domain specific ontologies and supporting research programs in other areas. The group discussed progress that has been made in supporting sites implementing VIVO. New documentation, better advice, and an improved VIVO organization allows researchers and institutional representatives to comprehend, and interest groups and other enhancements have led to an improvement in newer sites being able to implement VIVO with less time and effort than in the past. VIVO is still missing important features to provide a compelling adoption story. What should VIVO be able to do in the future? If you could assume that VIVO was loaded with quality data, how would you answer the question "I wish VIVO could ..." (Add your answer here:

As a semantic web tool that creates an integrated record of the scholarly work of an organization VIVO helps to leverage scholarship, connections and research impact at universities and beyond. VIVO members were engaged in discussing tactics for understanding stories and use cases at different levels of the university that are key to understanding the value of contributing to VIVO's sustainability.


3.4 Fedora/VIVO

Representatives of the Fedora and VIVO projects took time early on Thursday morning to discuss the possibility of VIVO/Fedora integration. Three use cases emerged:

  1. A faculty member uses a Fedora front-end (Hydra-based or other) to enter a work into a repository. The work is then represented on the faculty member's profile automatically with links to the content in the repository.
  2. The faculty member uses VIVO to add a work to his profile. The work is automatically stored in Fedora and represented on the VIVO profile of the faculty member.
  3. The faculty member leaves the university. How can the faculty member's profile be archived in a repository?

Further interest and discussions are ongoing among Fedora and VIVO community members.


4. Conclusion

DuraSpace and its members are engaged in the transformation of the scholarly ecosystem to be a more open, more inclusive, better preserved system. The DuraSpace Member Summit concluded with an increased sense of community connection and excitement around a shared commitment to facilitating global membership growth with a community interested in greater cross-technology interoperation, training and outreach opportunities.

On May 16, 2016 the Boards of LYRASIS and DuraSpace announced that a full merger is not currently the best way for each organization to achieve its long-term goals. This decision follows four months of formal due diligence and six months of exploration conducted in good faith. In lieu of a formal merger, LYRASIS and DuraSpace will continue to pursue more informal collaborations that benefit members and communities of both organizations while allowing each organization to remain focused on its mission.

DuraSpace CEO Debra Hanken Kurtz said, "We are grateful to our members, our community, and to LYRASIS, for their engagement in this process. Broad community participation identified areas for exploration that made for a more complete and thorough evaluation. We will build on what we have learned."


About the Author


Carol Minton Morris is Director of Marketing and Communications for DuraSpace, and is past Communications Director for the National Science Digital Library (2000-2009) and Fedora Commons (2007-2009). She leads editorial content and materials development and dissemination for DuraSpace publications, web sites, initiatives and online events, and helps connect open access, open source and open technologies people, projects and institutions to relevant news and information. She was the founding editor of NSDL Whiteboard Report (2000-2009) featuring information from NSDL projects and programs nationwide. Follow her at