Rutgers University Library Community Repositoryhttp://rucore.libraries.rutgers.edu
Rutgers University Libraries have developed a workflow management system to create and ingest objects and metadata as well as user tools to create a Fedora-based cyber-infrastructure that is flexible, user-oriented, useful and meaningful to a wide range of users with a design focus on preservation.
User-centric / Preservation-focused / Standards-independent
Rutgers University began its development as an initiative to build a statewide cultural heritage portal through a grant funded by the Institute of Library and Museum Services. The statewide portal — New Jersey Digital Highway led to some important initial design decisions. The early focus on fragile, unique source materials (photographs, documents, oral histories, memorabilia) led to a design that supports the entire lifecycle of information, from analog or born digital source content through every digital iteration. The need to support a range of organizations, from technically sophisticated large libraries and archives to small, informal museums and historical societies staffed by volunteers and “lone arrangers,” led to a commitment to “no organization left behind” — a sophisticated yet scaffolded architecture that could be employed at any state of technical and organizational readiness.
The need to support fragile, unique collections led to a strong preservation focus and a commitment to bring the pledge of analog archives — that information would be available in 200 years — to the digital space. The needs of a large, complex university, with three diverse campuses, also led to the recognition that a flexible cyber-in-frastructure that placed creativity for data use at the fingertips of faculty and students while acknowledging the responsibility of the libraries for management and collaborative access led to an innovative metadata design and user-centric architecture and tools.
The RUcore metadata data model and design is event-based, recognizing that the event — the interaction of one or more agents and one or more resources in a specific space and time — represents both context and lifecycle in a very flexible, extensible way for any type of information and any type of information use. As part of our initial design research, we discovered that many academic departments and faculty were creating, cataloging and publishing web-based information without reference to the library and to digital library standards. We recognized that we needed a paradigm that would acknowledge the primacy of the faculty’s role as creators and users — a structure that could embrace and encompass any organization or creative use of information that faculty currently employed or might wish to employ — while also providing the consistency needed for multidisciplinary discovery and use. Rutgers made two important design decisions to support its twin goals of user ownership and customization with durable, multidisciplinary availability and use. First, a very flexible collection architecture was developed, in advance of Fedora’s RDF-based relationship architecture, but very complementary and thus migratable. Second, an event data model was developed that thus far extends to any metadata schema or any context that the digital library community or the needs of our faculty can dictate. Our data model and schema essentially support no single metadata schema, yet support every metadata schema. In the emerging and chaotic world of information description and management, we believed this was very important.
User tools are designed to insure that RUcore is viewed as a valuable, enabling cyber-infrastructure for the university and its partners. Partner portals — dynamic collection portals for Rutgers faculty and departments that enable them to display parts of collections (e.g., dissertations for the Chemistry department) or whole collections (publications of Dr. Smith) that are dynamic and current insure that our faculty deposit utility is immediately useful to individual faculty members and to departments. An archivists’ portal, under development, will enable any participant, such as a New Jersey archive or museum, to manage their collections, including storing digital facsimiles of deeds of gift and licenses with the relevant collections and objects.
RUcore is also based on a strong digital preservation focus. Ron Jantz, Rutgers digital library architect, is leading the preservation services working group, which develops and tests specifications for Fedora. Rutgers is committed to developing tools and services that advance digital preservation services and the ability of Fedora repositories to achieve “trusted repository” status, as currently defined by the OCLC/RLG trusted repository checklist.
Rutgers is also committed to releasing its Workflow Management System and user tools as open source applications, in a staged process. Currently, Rutgers has invited several similar universities to participate in a collaborative use and development of the Workflow Management System (WMS) and user tools. Current partners are Pennsylvania State University, Northwestern and Princeton. Other partners are under consideration. In addition, Rutgers is currently completing a contract to retool the Workflow Management System to support the needs of moving image archives, as a bibliographic utility for the Library of Congress National Audiovisual Conservation Center’s Moving Image Collections (MIC) project. Rutgers University Libraries and their partners hope to release the WMS as open source in 2008.