Introducing ArchiveSphere

ArchiveSphere is the given name for a project between Penn State University Libraries and Information Technology Services. “Sphere” brands the project as being part of a set of repository services built using Project Hydra technologies; our first such service was ScholarSphere. “Archive” conveys that the project will create services for preserving, managing, and providing access to digital objects, in a way that is informed by archival thinking and practices.

Just what does this mean? We’ve spent the first few months of the project figuring that out ourselves. Many institutions have tested the utility of repository applications like DSpace or Fedora to store and deliver digital objects acquired as part of larger (and largely analog) archival collections. But what are the characteristics of storage and delivery?

With ArchiveSphere, we will provide a platform that archivists can use to deposit hierarchies of digital material from legacy media. The system will preserve the relational and hierarchical connections between files, while also providing archivists with tools that permit rearrangement and classification. Preservation actions like file characterization and normalization will be automated, as will virus checking and provenance event logging. We will leverage existing collection-level description found in collection management tools in a way that makes explicit the connections between digital and analog materials in hybrid collections. Access mechanisms will be provided that build on some of the great features found in ScholarSphere such as persistent unique identifiers, full-text indexing, integrity checking, and simple deposit, while also leveraging traditional archival discovery mechanisms like finding aids.

We’ve identified four main phases for development: 1) ingest and preservation services for archives staff, 2) administrative tools for managing, arranging, and describing submissions for public access and discovery interfaces, 3) integration with ArchivesSpace for holistic management of archival context around repository materials, and 4) alternative submission tools, including self-deposit options for institutional records.

Requirements for phases 2-4 are still in development, and development on phase 1 will begin this summer. (Note that work on phase 1 is focused on an administrative interface rather than a public interface.)

Posted on behalf of the ArchiveSphere project team.