Community-based Stewardship at Pennsylvania State University

Mike Furlough
Associate Dean for Research & Scholarly Communications
Pennsylvania State University

Patricia Hswe
Head, ScholarSphere User Services and Digital Content Strategist
Pennsylvania State University

Ben Goldman
Digital Records Archivist
Pennsylvania State University


This presentation will trace Pennsylvania State University’s community-driven strategy for developing digital stewardship through two services: 1) ScholarSphere, deployed for “scholarly works” produced by faculty, staff, and students; and 2) ArchiveSphere, being created for the management of institutional records, and aimed at a more narrowly defined audience charged with specific duties defined in University policy. Both services share a common code base developed on the Hydra/Fedora framework. Mike Giarlo and Patricia Hswe have previously written that “[t]he story of ScholarSphere, Penn State’s institutional repository (IR) service, is a multilayered, community-driven narrative.” To develop this service together, the University Libraries and Information Technology Services took a deliberate approach to building communities of practice, first among librarians and technologists, then among faculty, students, and staff, and ultimately in the wider digital preservation world. Both partners engaged potential stakeholders and users of the service at the earliest stages of development to guide functionality and service planning. As a result ScholarSphere is unusual among repository services in the degree of control it cedes to depositors to set the level of access, rights, and persistence for materials they contribute. ScholarSpheres’s flexibility contrasts with expectations of records managers, who organize and collect institutional records according to well-defined policies and retention schedules. ArchiveSphere, envisioned in response to the growing need to manage born-digital records, will enable an archivist to deposit hierarchies of digital materials, preserve the relational and hierarchical connections among files while also permitting rearrangement and classification.

At Penn State, a strong stakeholder base exists because of a thriving records management program and community of liaisons in offices throughout the university. Additionally, there are common needs for digital archival management tools across multiple institutions and the opportunity for further community development around these needs. How can community-building practices be applied to the development of ArchiveSphere? This presentation will include a brief overview of community development and user engagement in the development and promotion of ScholarSphere, followed by an outline of current development plans for ArchiveSphere and the records management community at Pennsylvania State University.



Last updated:  Wednesday, March 26th, 2014