Family digital repositories

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Dan Hanks

Mar 5, 2008, 6:13:24 PM3/5/08
I've noticed in the last few years a large accumulation of digital
'artifacts' among my extended family members, from the explosion of
digital photographs, to scans of historical documents and so forth.

I'd love to see some way for all my family members to (easily) upload
and catalog such digital objects, essentially to create a family
digital repository, that any member of the family can add to or

I'm aware of a number of digital library software projects out there,
like GreenStone and DSpace. In a sense, services like Flickr are also
digital repositories.

Are there any of these tools that you're aware of that lend themselves
well to this sort of thing?

Finding the right software for this is one problem, getting family
members to actually use such a system is another problem altogether

-- Dan

Dallan Quass

Mar 6, 2008, 12:26:56 AM3/6/08
Hi Dan,

Interesting that you bring up digital libraries. Having a digital library
for preserving digital artifacts and making them more accessible to others
is a great idea. I'm in the middle of customizing DSpace right now, making
it work with Amazon S3 for storage, putting it on MySQL instead of Postgres,
customizing the metadata fields for genealogy, etc. We'll be launching with
some content from Africana Heritage soon. The plan is to eventually open it
up to every user at WeRelate.

I'm interested in volunteers if anyone would like to help out. The DSpace
software is written in Java and is open-source, and the resulting digital
library will be free for anyone to use. (I'll probably limit uploads to 1GB
/ person.) The main issue right now is that the default screens are
functional but ugly. Anyone who has graphic, html, and/or css skills who
doesn't mind editing relatively simple jsp pages would be greatly
appreciated! Another area, less urgent, is making it work with SOLR
( DSpace currently uses lucene, but SOLR
has some nice features I think are worth taking advantage of.


Dan Hanks

Mar 12, 2008, 2:15:20 AM3/12/08
Hi Dallan,

I'm curious to know if you looked at the Fedora digital library
software ( as well when evaluating
which software to use.

If so, what were your impressions of it? Where was it lacking, when
compared to DSpace?

Thanks for any thoughts,

-- Dan

Dallan Quass

Mar 12, 2008, 9:24:01 PM3/12/08
I didn't spend much time with Fedora. I did the initial selection about a
year ago so I'm a little fuzzy on why Fedora didn't make the final cut, but
I believe it was mainly because it didn't have as broad of a following as
Dspace or GreenStone.

Bottom line between Dspace and GreenStone: if you're building a personal
repository or if one person is going to be managing the respository
submissions, then GreenStone is probably the way to go. It's very easy to
set up. Dspace includes workflows and authorization, so you can restrict
who can submit to each collection, you can define collection administrators
who can approve, reject, or edit submissions before they become public, and
you can even restrict who can view each collection. One of our goals is to
make this a free public repository for genealogical and family societies, so
I chose Dspace for the workflow and authorization features. Fedora might
have been a fine choice as well, but Dspace had everything I needed, and I
figure with MIT and HP behind it, it's got a good chance of being

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