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QSpace - Queen's Institutional Repository Project Plan

Background: new models of scholarly communication

The development and growth of institutional digital repositories arose in response to the major changes in scholarly communication. The new model - scholarship that is born digital - constitutes an important source for present and future research and teaching.    The other major force in shaping the new model is the expansion of the World Wide Web as both a highly effective vehicle for publishing and distributing this material, and as a medium for shaping research and learning “objects” in a variety of formats.   The rapid rise in the cost of commercial scholarly journals was another major impetus in developing new models in scholarly publishing.   

These transformations in scholarly communication have resulted in a growing body of digital materials accessible, in many instances, only from the desktops and Web sites of individual faculty and graduate students.    Data sets, teaching materials and other valuable unpublished digital resources are being lost or made inaccessible because individual scholars lack the expertise or resources to preserve and distribute them.

Institutional Repositories:

An institutional repository is a digital collection of a university's academic/creative output. Institutional repositories collect, preserve, and make accessible the data and knowledge generated by academic institutions.   Institutional repositories also form part of a larger global system of repositories, which are indexed in a standardized way, and searchable using one interface, supporting the foundation of a new scholarly publishing model.

Institutional repositories benefit scholars and the institution by bringing timely access, broader dissemination, increased use, and enhanced professional visibility of scholarly research, teaching materials and a wide range of creative output while potentially raising the institutional profile. A growing number of universities around the world, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of California, and University of Toronto have developed and are running institutional repositories, while many others are in the planning stages.

With their mission to support learning and scholarship and their expertise in collection access and management, libraries are playing a leading role in the development of institutional depositories.  

In Canada, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries has initiated a pilot project with 13 Canadian university participants including the University of Toronto, McGill, Queen's and the University of Montreal, to share experiences and expertise from their individual repository projects, leading to the development of a network of inter-operable institutional repositories which will help realize the dream of a national digital library for the benefit of scholars and researchers across the country.

One of the recommendations arising out of the Symposium on the Future of Scholarly Publishing held at Queen's in April 2002, and reported to Senate, was that Queen's should establish such an institutional repository.   This recommendation is now being acted upon by the Senate Library Committee which established a Planning Team, co-chaired by Sam Kalb (Library) and by the chair of the Senate Library Committee, initially Laura Murray, John Osborne since Sept. 2003.    The activities and deliberations of the Planning Team are available at the Queen's IR Portal web site:   http://library.queensu.ca/webir/planning/qspace-project.htm.

QSpace Objective

To establish an innovative institutional digital repository to collect, preserve, and enable distribution of research, teaching and learning material generated by Queen's scholars, teachers and researchers.   It will reflect the Queen's goal to “Foster scholarship and interdisciplinary teaching and learning” , the library's goals to support learning and excellence in teaching and research (an extension of the consortial “Scholar's Portal” to digital publications) and provide a stable long-term storage and content management system to house academic materials in a variety of digital formats.

QSpace Project


To implement a pilot project for the purposes of gathering the necessary data to develop a business plan for a sustainable repository with a scalable technology platform and service infrastructure , including estimates of scope and costs for acquisition and operating of a full system.  


Governance & Cooperation:

Under the governance of the Senate Library Committee, the project will be planned and steered by the Institutional Repository Planning Team, administered by the Library system (Project Coordinator: Sam Kalb) in collaboration with Information Technology Services (ITS) and supported by the University's producers and users of digital scholarly materials.    The project staff will liaise with colleagues at University of Toronto's T-Space repository, MIT and other institutions who have already established DSpace repositories.   Sam Kalb will continue to act as Queen's liaison to the CARL Institutional Repository Pilot Project.  

Parameters for the pilot:  

Duration One year
Scope Up to @2,000 items of 10Mbytes each
Digital formats To assess the software and needs of the Queen's community, the project will accept a variety of digital format

Sun Fire V100, includes:
550MHz UltraSPARC IIi with 256KB Cache, 1GB DRAM, 1 * 40GB.
IDE 7200rpm Hard Disk, CD-ROM, 2 * Ethernet 10/100 ports, 2 * USB Ports, Removable Configuration Card, AC Power Supply. no keyboard, no mouse port, no graphics, no audio. no PCI Slot. Includes 19inch rackmount kit. Solaris 8 & Lomlite2 pre-installed; automatic tape backup will be performed from a second location; long term storage and server requirements will be determined by the pilot.


DSpace:   After extensive investigation, the Planning Team agreed to pursue the open source DSpace system as the vehicle for Queen's repository project.   DSpace, developed by MIT and Hewlett Packard, is widely supported by the academic community in North America and beyond, including University of Toronto.   The software is designed to accommodate a wide range of digital formats and can be customized to meet varying needs of contributing communities.   DSpace conforms to international protocols for open exchange of scholarly information (OAI) and is freely available as open source software.

DSpace uses a system of persistent identifiers for each title.   This would allow the documents and their metadata to be transported to another server or software system without changing the web links to each title.    Most importantly, it would allow a community, participating in the project, to maintain a repository of their titles even if the project did not expand into a full institutional repository.


Project Coordinator: Sam Kalb.   Oversee management, direction and documentation of the project, working in conjunction with the (ITS) technical project supervisor; in consultation with the IR Planning Team; reporting to the Senate Library Committee.

Grade 7 programmer/ analyst to be hired for 12 months – install, configure and provide technical support for DSpace.     Staff time dedicated to the repository project: .5 fte.   The other .5fte will be dedicated to other ITS projects.  

Supervision of technical implementation and infrastructure support including project staff by existing ITS staff.

Liaison with university communities, metadata support, user training & documentation by Sam Kalb and other Library staff.

Content To fully assess the needs of the Queen's academic community and the challenges posed by different content, the project will accept:   preprints, published articles (with copyright approval), technical reports, conference papers, dissertations, teaching materials (incl. lecture notes, visualizations and simulations) presentations, images, audio/video and multimedia.

While all faculty will be welcome to contribute, a project goal is to elicit participation from at least 2-3 early adopter communities (e.g. departments, faculties, research centres, programs, etc.) to build a critical mass of discipline-based content.

The Planning Team has already identified two community participants who are quite excited about the project:  

Faculty of Education   [type of material for contribution still to be determined]

Queen's graduate dissertations.   School of Graduate Studies has agreed to include masters and doctoral dissertations on a voluntary basis.

Interest has also been expressed by the SWAMP Project (Engineering) and other individual faculty member who have heard about the impending repository project.  



Project Costs

Item Cost

Sun Fire V100, N19-UUE1-9S-102EX1   

(+17% discount which will cover taxes)

Software There are no charges for the open source software  
Project Staffing

Grade 7 programmer/ analyst to be hired for 12 months







  To be determined
While the Library and ITS are funding the infrastructure costs for the project from existing funds, it is anticipated that an ongoing, full-scale repository will require supplementary capital and operational funding.
rev. 6/17/2004