Executive Director, Digital Library Initiative
Diane C. Butler
Manager, Enterprise Systems and Applications
Institutional repositories (IRs) were originally intended for archiving faculty publications, assuming a print model that generally equaled a journal article. With time, however, IRs have grown to support a greater breadth of materials that represent the intellectual output of a research university. Music schools with an emphasis on performance can generate many, many hours of music from faculty and student recitals that serve much the same purpose as does a publication for a faculty member in science, engineering or the humanities. Scholarly video created by faculty and students as well as video of speeches given at the institution by famous visitors are also materials that can be managed by the IR.
One of the challenges, however, is the ability to efficiently deliver these kinds of materials to users directly from the IR without requiring significant bandwidth for downloading. Audio and video streaming servers are designed to handle these types of interactions, providing users with flexible tools that allow them to move easily through various parts of the digital asset. At Rice University, a desire to manage these assets in the institutional repository so they would be sustained long term and be associated with a persistent identifier has led to the implementation of an approach for shared storage. An interface to the University’s DSpace repository allows multimedia files to be stored in a common Isilon clustered storage system, managed by DSpace and front-ended by streaming servers that have access to the same file for streamed delivery rather than full downloads. This method provides a highly scalable and efficient solution that can accommodate front-end servers to the repository as new technologies come along without compromising the integrity of the digital asset and its persistent identifier. Not only does this solution address a technical need for managing really large multimedia files, it has the advantage of building stronger collaborations across the campus as more groups are willing to trust their assets being managed by the Rice IR.