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By Anne Stuart, November 2007

Michele Kimpton has a pretty simply goal for the DSpace Foundation: promoting the DSpace platform as a way to provide people with access to scholarly works.

Thatís all people. All scholarly works. Everywhere in the world.

Kimpton, executive director of the new nonprofit organization, admits thatís a tall order Ė and immediately adds: "Visions should be ambitious."

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HP and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology co-founded the DSpace Foundation in July 2007 as an umbrella organization to support the growing "DSpace community" – the worldwide network of institutions using the open-source software platform to create archives of digital content. (See related story, Capturing China's knowledge, Oct. 2007)

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Foundation goals

Housed in offices at MIT’s Cambridge, Mass., campus, the foundation’s goals include:

  • Increasing the academic world’s awareness of DSpace’s benefits
  • Ensuring that information deposited in DSpace depositories remains compatible with other applications
  • Potentially partnering with service providers that can help newcomer institutions quickly get DSpace up and running
  • Supporting the development of DSpace 2.0

 
Nick Wainwright of HP Labs notes that although some DSpace projects will make content freely available to anyone who wants it, others may be open only to authorized users because they contain proprietary or confidential information.

But Kimpton hopes that most DSpace institutions will default to making all or most of their content freely available to anyone with an Internet connection. She cites as an example the Texas Digital Library (TDL), a project involving four Texas universities.

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Changing how people use information

Launched in mid-2005, the DSpace-based TDL houses intellectual capital such as including dissertations, course materials and digital media.

Previously, it was difficult for anyone outside the immediate college communities to access much of that information; now anyone can access nearly all of it. Plans call for eventually expanding the repository to every college, university and education center in the Lone Star state.

"This is a great example of what is possible," Kimpton says. "When you have lots of content with a central interface to access it, you can really change the way people find information  –  and the way they learn."

 

 

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