In reading from our text, Modern Information Retrieval, this week, we learned of multiple types of software systems used in the creation of digital libraries, specifically:

  • Greenstone
  • Fedora
  • Eprints
  • DSpace
  • Online Digital Libraries (ODL)
  • 5S Suite

Several of these, namely DSpace and Fedora, are referenced as open source software.  Open source software is typically available for free and provides users with the source code that be changed based on the users needs (Cherukodan, Kumar, & Kabir, 2013).  The use of open source software provides many advantages to libraries.  These advantages include:

  • Monetary savings, as the software is typically free
  • Flexibility to solicit technical support from a variety of sources, instead of only one vendor if the software was proprietary
  • Sharing of responsibility in solving information system accessibility issues among the various communities that use the open source software

In 2003, the Cochin University of Science & Technology (CUSAT) in India established the CUSAT Digital Library (CDL) using DSpace open source software.  A case study was conducted to “understand digital library design and development using DSpace open source software in a university environment with a focus on the analysis of distribution of items and measuring the value by usage statistics” (Cherukodan, Kumar, & Kabir, 2013).  The study used Google Analytics to measure usage of the digital library.

The writers of the study spent some time discussing DSpace, which they describe as the most popular open source software used for digital libraries.  They mentioned several of the other types of software referenced in our text, Eprints, Fedora, and Greenstone, but went on to explain why CUSAT chose DSpace over the others. 

MIT Libraries and HP Labs developed DSpace in 2002.  It uses the Java programming language and uses Open Archive Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) to support interoperability.  DSpace was chosen by CUSAT because it offered “the best search and browsing support as well as good support for metadata” and provided “more power to administrators to put restrictions at collection level.”  Active online community support through the DSpace mailing list and DSpace wiki were also factors in the choice of DSpace.

Google Analytics was employed to determine the usage of the digital library after its creation.  The study period was from January 2009 through September 2009.  There were 10,346 individuals who visited the site from 78 countries.  There were 23,722 page visits, which may not sound like a lot until you factor in the fact that the CDL only contained 2,312 items.  This study is touted as being the first of its type.

I think the advantages referenced above provide a compelling argument for the use of open source software in the creation of digital libraries.  I found an interesting website, Free/Open Source Software for Libraries (FOSS4LIB), that helps library staff explore such questions as “Is open source software the right choice for my library?” and if so, what open source software package can meet the specific needs of the library.  There are free webinars available to learn more about FOSS4LIB and how to best take advantage of open source software solutions. 


Cherukodan, S., Kumar, G.S., & Kabir, S. H. (2013). Using open source software for digital libraries: A case study of CUSAT. Electronic Libraries, 31(2), 217-225.