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DSPACE - Durable Digital Archives


DSpace archiving process

DSpace™ is a free, open source software platform that allows research organizations to offer faculty and researchers a professionally managed searchable archive for their digital assets. DSpace focuses on simple access to these assets, as well as their long-term preservation.


New information technologies—desktop computing, datasets, software simulations, audio and video files—have exponentially increased digital collateral. At the same time, they pose a distinct archiving problem, as technology evolves seemingly from month to month.

In 2000, innovators were just beginning to understand the scope of the digital-medium problem. Believing that institutions could and should accept stewardship responsibility for wide-spread and long-term access to their intellectual output, MIT collaborated with HP Labs to develop a method of capturing and preserving that material.


The vision was to build a simple end-to-end digital archiving solution that any academic research institution could use—and to build a community of peers who could work together on the enormous technical challenges involved in the continuing maintenance and enhancement of such a code base.

Since ongoing collaboration could only happen if the platform was useful to a critical mass of organizations, the system needed to be easily used (encouraging faculty at many institutions to adopt it) and built to open source standards.

Developers at the MIT Libraries and HP Labs designed DSpace to be the first system to capture, describe, store, and preserve digital content for the long run, which adopters could download and install with minimal configuration and customization.

On 4 November 2002, they released DSpace 1.0.


In a single year, 50 universities were using DSpace.

HP soon began to focus on the system's power as a platform for ongoing research in important areas such as digital preservation, Semantic Web techniques for metadata management, persistent identification schemes, and open access-friendly DRM systems. Developers from a broad array of organizations took up the challenge.

Today, DSpace software has been downloaded 32,000 times and is used in over 30 countries spanning every continent. It has captured, preserved and disseminated countless thousands of digital assets. It contains contributions from over 50 developers from a variety of institutions, and is the nucleus of numerous research projects. Critically, it has prompted wide debate and deliberation on fundamental ideas about how an institution thinks of its intellectual output.

Increasingly, DSpace is used beyond its institutional roots. Commercial service providers are offering DSpace set-up, consultation, customization and hosting services. The Indian government is funding DSpace installations nationwide. In China, 100 university-based museums are digitizing their artifacts, photographs and 3D models, then linking those assets. A worldwide initiative has been established.


Ann Wolpert

Ann Wolpert is the Director of Libraries at MIT, and has reporting responsibility for the MIT Press. The MIT Libraries include five major collections, a number of smaller branch libraries in specialized subject areas, a fee-for-services group, and the Institute Archives. The MIT Press publishes about 200 new books and over 40 journals per year in fields related to or reliant upon science and technology, and is widely recognized for its innovative graphic design and electronic publishing initiatives. She is a member of the Committee on Copyright and Patents, the MIT Council on Educational Technology, the Dean's Committee, and the President's Academic Council, as well as part of the editorial board of the MIT Press, and chair its Management Board.

Prior to joining MIT, Ann was Executive Director of Library and Information Services at the Harvard Business School. Her experience previous to Harvard included management of the Information Center of Arthur D. Little, Inc., an international management and technology consulting firm, where she also worked on various consulting assignments. More recent consulting assignments have taken her to the campuses of INCAE in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and to the Malaysia University of Science and Technology, Selangor, Malaysia.

Ann is active in the professional library community, currently serving on the Executive Committee of the Boston Library Consortium, on the Information Policies Committee of the Association of Research Libraries, and as a member of the editorial boards of Library & Information Science Research and The Journal of Library Administration. A frequent speaker and writer, she has recently contributed papers on such topics as library service to remote library users, intellectual property management in the electronic environment, and the future of research libraries in the digital age.

Her educational background includes a BA from Boston University and the MLS from Simmons College. In 1998 she was nominated for and accepted into the National Network for Women Leaders in Higher Education of the American Council on Education.

MacKenzie Smith

MacKenzie Smith is Associate Director for Technology at the MIT Libraries, where she oversees the Libraries' use of technology and its digital library research program. She is currently acting as the DSpace project director. She was formerly the Digital Library Program Manager in the Harvard University Library's Office for Information Systems where she managed the design and implementation of the Library Digital Initiative, and she has worked in library IT departments at Harvard and the University of Chicago. Her background is in applied technology in libraries and academia, and digital libraries in particular.


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Ann Wolpert
MacKenzie Smith

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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