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Conference Report


D-Lib Magazine
October 2006

Volume 12 Number 10

ISSN 1082-9873

ECDL 2006 Workshop Report

The Use of Digital Object Repository Systems in Digital Libraries (DORSDL)


Gert Schmeltz Pedersen
Technical Knowledge Center of Denmark
Technical University of Denmark

Kostas Saidis
Department of Informatics and Telecommunications
University of Athens

Hans Pfeiffenberger
Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research

Red Line


The 1st European Workshop on the use of Digital Object Repository Systems in Digital Libraries (DORSDL) <>, held in conjunction with ECDL 2006 <>, took place on September 21, 2006, in Alicante, Spain. The workshop was attended by 50 people (including speakers) from 10 countries.

During recent years, digital object repositories (DORs) have gained significant attention from the Digital Libraries / Digital Publishing community. The DORSDL workshop's goal was to investigate the use of digital object repositories in the context of digital libraries. Are DORs becoming a standard component of digital libraries, or is the term (and the notion behind it) used as a replacement for "Digital Libraries"? Depending on the approach, both may stand. Under this perspective, the workshop aimed to provide a foundation for discussion about practical issues that come up in both systems, in order to foster further developments and collaborations between them.

The full-day workshop was comprised of four sessions and a panel discussion. During the first session ("New Developments in Repository Systems"), Carl Lagoze (Cornell University) talked about interoperability among scholarly repositories and the development of workflows across distributed information. Scholarly communication is seen as a global workflow across distributed repositories, which will be obtained by richer cross-repository services, so that digital objects can be used and reused in many contexts. Robert Tansley (Google) reported on the status of the DSpace repository software and its community, and also described the China Digital Museum Project as an application of DSpace. He also discussed the directions of new developments in DSpace, with emphasis on the data model challenges that are not yet addressed by the plethora of standards used in DSpace.

The speakers that participated in the second session ("Applications and Experiences"), reported on various projects from around the globe. David Groenewagen (Monash University Library) presented the ARROW project, a consortial institutional repository solution that successfully combined Open Source and proprietary software. Hans Pfeiffenberger (Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research) reported on PLANKTON-NET, an ongoing project concerned with the taxonomy of plankton. Real world issues that occurred when dealing with aggregation of information from "old", preexisting databases or repositories were observed. Challenges range from standardization of protocols to meeting new "ad-hoc" competition, like Flickr, while striving for long-term preservation and scientific quality control. Also, some lessons about semantics can be inferred from the quite old science of naming biota. The third talk, given by Diane Berkovits (European Organization for Nuclear Research), discussed managing institutional repositories with the CERNDocument Server Digital Library Software. Bo Alro (Atira A/S) presented the PURE service as "becoming a central piece in the research administration and dissemination efforts of most of the Danish universities". Although non-Open-Source, PURE supports a number of standard interfaces to its content. Emphasis was put on supporting the processes and workflows in the universities. Interestingly, the organization of the development process through an inter-university board has led to homogenization of processes at the universities. Finally, Jonathan Crabtree (University of North Carolina) presented the Data-PASS project, a partnership that is being led by an inter-university consortium. The project aims to ensure the long-term preservation of holdings and materials of various universities.

The "Services" Session focused on the development of services in DORs. Judith Wusteman (University College Dublin) presented OJAX, an AJAX-based metasearch framework that facilitates dynamic and interactive access to repository metadata. Gert Schmeltz Pedersen (Technical University of Denmark) talked about the development of services in the Fedora Service Framework. A Generic Search Service will allow various search engines to be plugged into Fedora repositories. A Peer-to-Peer Service will utilize results from the ALVIS EU project in the context of Fedora repositories.

In the "Foundations and Infrastructure" session, Matthias Razum (FIZ Karlsruhe), discussed the advanced requirements posed by the eSciDoc project with regard to the versioning of digital objects in a Fedora-based repository. He concluded by proposing a whole-object versioning approach that builds upon Fedora's datastream versioning. Kostas Saidis (University of Athens) presented a brief overview of Digital Object Prototypes (DOPs), the first framework that provides type-consistent digital objects, and discussed the benefits of a repository-independent implementation of DOPs. He also announced the open source release of the framework in the following months. In the last talk of the session, Paolo Manghi, (Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell' Informazione "Alessandro Faedo" - CNR) argued the advantages of the use of a typed data model in DORs, using an example drawn by relational database systems. He concluded by outlining the future development of a typed OpenDLib repository service.

At the end of the day, a panel discussion entitled "Requirements for Next Generation Digital Library Systems" took place, the participants of which where the following: Donatella Castelli (Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell' Informazione "Alessandro Faedo" – CNR), Carl Lagoze, Robert Tansley, Matthias Razum and Kostas Saidis. A number of interesting issues came up during the workshop, including interoperability, the use of standards, versioning strategies and digital object types. The panelists at first discussed the digital object notion in a general fashion, elaborating on the dependency of the context in which a given digital object is represented and manipulated. DORs refer to systems developed to handle digital objects, and a lot of work needs to be done to provide a generic solution that suits the needs and requirements imposed by each digital library development. Should we consider digital objects as general-purpose named information units, it seems that we've come up with a description of digital artifacts that is richer than the "digital document" notion. This richer concept assists us in developing richer services.

Copyright © 2006 Gert Schmeltz Pedersen, Kostas Saidis, and Hans Pfeiffenberger

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