Move Towards Cohesion of Infrastructure
The transition from project-based to service-based development that occurred around 2005 speaks to the Libraries’ focus on strategic development of the repository infrastructure. While migrations of old projects into new repository environments are still being managed, IUL is heavily focused on moving all digital collections and projects into well-supported repository services. The reasons for this are largely twofold: first, a cohesive repository infrastructure would centralize management and allow digital curation actions to be carried out across the board; second, developments within the broader communities supporting the technologies utilized at the IU Libraries are working on shared solutions, so utilizing a centralized infrastructure will allow for easier local adoption. Access to Indiana University UITS’ Research Storage also provides further incentive for standardizing the repository infrastructure, as the Scholarly Data Archive provides a trustworthy, scalable solution for storing and maintaining all library content. Total access to the SDA incentivized the library to develop a repository infrastructure that works with the storage architecture in order to ensure that all of the digital objects ingested by the Libraries are stored reliably.
Community Participation and Development
The IUB Libraries have been increasingly involved in the academic community’s development of digital library solutions for preservation and access. As an active member of the Hydra and Fedora communities, IUL’s contribution to open source software has fostered an atmosphere of participation in national and international efforts that go beyond technical infrastructure. Indiana University’s memberships in the Academic Preservation (AP)Trust repository project and the Digital Preservation Network (DPN) are examples of this, as the university has committed financial and staff resources to projects aimed at creating a national infrastructure for digital preservation.
Indiana University has a long history in audiovisual preservation, and the recent push towards massive digitization of A/V content as part of MDPI has been a major impetus to the university’s further development in the area of digital preservation. From the Sound Directions project that began in 2005, aimed at “test[ing] emerging standards and develop[ing] best practices,” to the current project that began digitizing content in 2015, IU has been continually active in the audiovisual community in establishing best practices and contributing to its knowledge base. IU’s extensive A/V holdings have also pushed for the development of the local infrastructure in order to develop capacities for preservation. The current push with the MDPI project directly led to the creation of new staff positions, as well as the development and optimization of repository solutions like HydraDAM2 and Avalon.
One of the major hurdles in digital preservation faced by Indiana University has been the reliance on key stakeholders for moving initiatives forward and maintaining momentum. The Digital Library Program’s dissolution, for example, followed the loss of high-level stakeholders who were heavily invested in the program’s success. The incremental development of projects like the DLP and the Digital Library Infrastructure within the DLP may have contributed to the impact of this challenge.
In large part tied to the loss of key stakeholders, a lack of funding for new and ongoing initiatives has presented problems within the IU Libraries at various points. While the DLP was significantly resourced early on by funding from the Libraries and UITS, as well as grants from emerging and resource-rich external funding agencies targeting digital library development, such as the National Science Foundation, Institute for Museum and Library Services, and National Endowment for the Humanities, large-scale funding strategies have shifted over the years, making it difficult to maintain consistent levels of funding within the Libraries for digital preservation and access.
Following the loss of key stakeholders and funding, Indiana University Libraries has had to deal with a lack of adequate staffing as a major, ongoing challenge. This challenge has been especially acute in terms of qualified technical staff to develop and maintain the repository infrastructure. This challenge has been particularly problematic in the development of a cohesive repository infrastructure, as the Libraries’ needs in dealing with digital information are growing at a faster pace than IUL is able to find or train skilled staff in this area. This has impacted the institution’s ability to maintain stable progress.
Indiana University has been a pioneer in the field of digital libraries and in the development and implementation of open source software, as well as an early adopter of repository systems such as Fedora. Since the early- to mid-1990s, IU has been fostering digital library projects and initiatives with a focus on digitized audio (Variations Digital Music Library) and electronic texts (Victorian Women Writers Project). In 1997, the Libraries and University Information Technology Services (UITS) formed and jointly funded the Indiana University Digital Library Program (DLP) to “produce, maintain, deliver, and preserve networked resources for scholars and students at Indiana University and elsewhere in order to improve the teaching and research of IU faculty, improve the learning and research of IU students, and increase knowledge about the development of digital libraries” (DLP Mission Statement). The DLP not only provided a central home to digital library projects already in existence, but also championed the creation of dozens of new digital projects largely with the help of grant funding. In 2003, the DLP served as one of the initial implementation partners on the Fedora project, beginning the move of the DLP and ultimately the IU Libraries from a project-based digital library program to a service-based program.
Starting in 2005, the DLP developed a series of preservation and access services – Books/Serials, Finding Aids, Images, Audio/Video and others – that facilitate the ingest of digital content into a repository and promote curation, preservation, and access. Along with the Fedora infrastructure, the DLP maintained and supported services for electronic texts (a homegrown Xubmit repository), institutional repositories (DSpace), and open access journal publication (OJS). The creation and maturation of these repository services led to an increase in distributed digitization and digital curation workflows, allowing collection managers across campus, the IU system, and–in some cases–the State of Indiana, to create and publish standards-based digital content with little intervention from the DLP.
After a sixteen-year partnership between the IU Libraries and UITS, the DLP dissolved in 2013 and digital library operations were subsumed under the IU Libraries’ umbrella. The IU Libraries still closely partners with UITS, relying on several services provided by UITS. One of these central services is the Scholarly Data Archive (SDA) which is based on High Performance Storage System (HPSS) and supports automated mirroring of content between IU’s Bloomington and Indianapolis data centers with copies stored in each location. Practically speaking, the end of the DLP had little impact on day-to-day digital library operations. Organizationally, digital library operations became distributed, reflecting a more holistic and integrative approach to the “digital library program.” The advent of repository services and decentralized digitization initiatives has come with its own sets of opportunities and challenges for a library-wide digital preservation strategy. Despite the various repository solutions in place at the IU Libraries, all content is backed up either to internal systems like the SDA or to external solutions such as LOCKSS, as is the case for IUB’s open access journals. However, while approaches to storage, digitization, and metadata are largely unified and consistent, there are not a clearly stated set of institutional priorities for digital preservation as the responsibility for this largely falls to individual collection owners. Additionally, the infrastructure’s lack of flexibility has led to the inability to address new challenges, such as born digital content and new file formats, in a timely manner.