Magazine article Information Management

MIT's Super Archive

Magazine article Information Management

MIT's Super Archive

Article excerpt

Each year, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers create at least 10,000 papers, data files, images, collections of field notes, and audio and video clips. Much of the material is published in professional journals, but the rest is ferreted away on personal computers, Web sites, and departmental servers, accessible only to a few.

Until recently, there has been no plan to archive or preserve such work. But in September 2002, MIT launched DSpace, a Webbased institutional repository where faculty and researchers can save their intellectual output and share it with colleagues anywhere for centuries to come. DSpace, the result of a two-year collaboration between MIT Libraries and Hewlett-Packard (HP), is built on open-source software and available to anyone free of charge. More important, many believe this digital repository will revolutionize the way research is shared and preserved and fundamentally change the way scholars disseminate their research.

The $1.8-million project is part of the five-year, $25 million MIT-HP Alliance, a research effort to develop digital information systems. In the spring of 2000, the project team that includes HP software developers, MIT administrators, and a faculty advisory committee began developing the system - a one-of-a-kind repository that can store all types of digital files and is accessible from any computer on campus. Every document stored in DSpace has a unique and permanent URL. Materials submitted to the repository are organized within a community - a school, department, lab, or center. Each community sets standards for DSpace content and determines who will be authorized to access documents.

When it first went online, DSpace could store almost a terabyte of data enough to accommodate the information on about 1,500 CD-ROMs, but not enough to hold all the work MIT faculty have stored on their own hard drives and CD-ROMs. MIT plans to add storage capacity as necessary.

According to MacKenzie Smith, association director for technology for the MIT libraries and DSpace project manager, two types of digital repositories exist currently. One is for library holdings that happen to be in digital format, and the other is a preprint archive tailored to scholarly papers in a discipline that is a vehicle for getting them out quickly. …

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