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A View from the DuraSpace Summit

Jonathan Markow, DuraSpace CSO, speaking at the DuraSpace Summit where members gathered on March 11-12, 2015

Washington, DC  The Cosmos Club on Embassy Row, a private social club incorporated in Washington, D.C. in 1878, was the site for a recent gathering of DuraSpace members—a group of 70 thought leaders in open source technology development for digital preservation, open access and discovery. The fast-paced and energetic DuraSpace Summit was an opportunity for members to participate in strategic updates, discussions and open source project planning sessions.

The agenda, slides and a recording from day one sessions are available here.

Laura Wood, DuraSpace board member and Director of Tufts University Tisch Library, welcomed members and encouraged attendees to to get to know one another. She observed that there was lots of overlap among institutions that were using DSpace, Fedora and, or VIVO, and opportunities to “switch gears” and learn more about each of them during the meeting.

After only two and half weeks on the job, DuraSpace CEO Debra Hanken Kurtz opened the meeting with a quick overview of open source project advances, related diversified funding streams, global adoption of technologies, and strategic goals for the next year. She offered attendees a look at her background in technology development and libraries with quick review of collections that she is particularly proud of at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University and the Texas Digital Library where she has held positions. She reminded the audience that preservation and access alone are not enough, but that as a community we have an obligation to ensure that all voices are represented in the digital scholarly record.

She reviewed outgoing CEO Michele Kimpton’s accomplishments that included growing DuraSpace membership to 138 institutions and implementing a sustainable business model.  She ended by thanking all DuraSpace members for their contributions with a reminder that “You are the power behind community source.” The annual 2015 DuraSpace membership campaign will get underway in May.

Jonathan Markow, DuraSpace Chief Strategy Officer, followed with a lighthearted yet serious look at the strides DuraSpace has made in the last year towards establishing project governance across all three open source projects. He echoed Kurtz’s presentation by emphasizing that DSpace, Fedora and VIVO projects now have more participation, more funds, and a greater sense of ownership than in previous years. He emphasized the basic principle behind open source project advancement, “If you contribute stuff to the project (e.g. money, time), you get to help guide its direction.”

He suggested that more packaged promotions and messages that weave DuraSpace projects and services together into a cohesive whole is a strategic organizational objective for the next year. He also asked for help in determining how DuraSpace could move community building efforts “out from the core.” In 2015 DuraSpace will reach out to “folks who haven’t talked to us directly but that should know what we do—friends of friends." DuraSpace will also look towards creating greater transparency in communications, web site information and metrics.


Robin Ruggaber, Fedora Steering Group chair, characterized Fedora’s success as being rooted in the way the group works and communicates as a team. She pointed out that Fedora 4 evolved from an examination of possible solutions, as well as common problems. In re-vitalizing the way Fedora 4 was developed, the Fedora project also built a vibrant and committed community.

Funds committed to the Fedora project totaled $533,833 in 2014 from 63 DuraSpace members. These revenues will allow the project to engage in developing a comprehensive Fedora 4 training curriculum and outreach to new potential adopters around the world.


David Lewis, DSpace Steering Group chair, began by reminding members that DSpace has been the most widely-adopted, global, institutional repository solution since 2002 with more than 1,800 instances. Asia and Western Europe have the most DSpace installations and yet contribute the fewest resources back to the project through memberships in DuraSpace. He is looking for ways to coordinate and harvest the power behind international DSpace adoption effectively.

DSpace is the only project that has an RSP budget line which represents income for those companies. He suggests that there may be an opportunity to work more closely with DSpace Registered Service Providers in support of ongoing DSpace improvements. The DSpace Steering Group will complete a project roadmap based on community input this summer.


Mike Conlon, VIVO Project Director, began his presentation by telling the story of VIVO at the University of Florida (UF) where he is a faculty member. People who are interested in cross-disciplinary research and interests can now be found at UF through VIVO. The old method was to talk to people who knew their way around the University because, he explained, “We all have social networks (and inside information).” He suggested, “The competitor to VIVO at UF was ‘Call Mike.’”

There are 6,000 faculty at UF in many fields of research, science and medicine. VIVO at UF contains information about all faculty and all permanent staff. UF did not have an organizational chart before VIVO provided a way to implement it. To have a shared understanding of UF’s 950 units, centers and labs, and what grants they have received is a boon for the institution. Now faculty who have research funding, published papers, and related courses can be located and connected.

The VIVO project has many partners and gained several new members in 2014.  Symplectic, a software company specializing in developing, implementing, and integrating research information systems, became the first VIVO Registered Service Provider in July.

VIVO provides an integrated view of the scholarly work of an organization.  Strengthening the VIVO open source community and clarifying the value proposition will guide implementation of the VIVO Strategic Plan in 2015. Conlon ended by inviting all DuraSpace members to the upcoming Sixth Annual VIVO Conference that will be held in Boston, August 12-14.


Afternoon speakers included Carissa Smith, DuraSpace Services Project Manager, who gave an in-depth overview of the organization’s services which generated a lively question and answer session. DuraSpace members are very interested in all aspects of how DuraSpace is developing and deploying an end-to-end solution stack in the cloud.

She began with a look into the history of each DuraSpace service—DuraCloud, DSpaceDirect and ArchivesDirect, while pointing out the clear funding differentiation between DuraSpace projects and its services which are completely supported by earned revenues along with a small amount of grant funding.

2015 DuraCloud objectives include the launch of the first DPN (Digital Preservation Network) node in collaboration with Chronopolis. Launched in 2014, DSpaceDirect provides customers with a simple and cost-effective DSpace repository in the cloud. This year customers will benefit from an upgrade to DSpace 5.0 that will allow them to take advantage of the new mobile-friendly theme. ArchivesDirect, currently in beta release, was developed in partnership with Artefactual to provide users with an integrated Archivematica plus DuraCloud soup-to-nuts archiving workflow and storage solution. A full public release of ArchivesDirect is planned for later in the year.


The afternoon concluded with Heather Joseph, Executive Director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), and Michele Mennielli, CINECA, who offered contrasting and well-received views of the open access policy landscapes in the United States and Europe.

Joseph laid out the evolutionary policies that the Obama administration has taken to create public expectations around openness and transparency in all government activities and outputs including information and data. Government agencies are currently in the process of releasing open data plans. A key aspect of public data management going forward is that “the default will be set to ‘open.’” She pointed out that this change does not mean that all U.S. data and information will be immediately, openly accessible, as there are many other laws and policies governing its dissemination, but rather that the intention is towards openness.

Mennielli provided a broad overview of general European open access policies and coordination efforts across borders supported by the European Commission, a body that makes policies, provides funds and builds capacity for both “gold OA” (costs are covered) and “green OA” (peer-reviewed; 6-12 months embargo). The Commission’s goal is to optimize the impact of publicly-funded scientific research. OpenAIRE is another community-centered model for collaborative open access implementation. He concluded with a look at regional open access adoption across Eastern Europe, Northern Europe, Central Europe, the United Kingdom, Southern Europe and Italy.

Day two of the DuraSpace Summit was devoted to in-depth DSpace, Fedora and VIVO project strategy discussions led by project Steering Group members. Slides and a recording from day one sessions are available here.


Submitted by Carol Minton Morris on Tue, 2015-03-24 14:27