Scaling Up a Collaborative Consortial Institutional Repository

Author: joelle@palni.edu


Earlier this year, in July of 2019, PALCI (the Pennsylvania Academic Library Consortium, Inc.) and PALNI (the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana) were awarded a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to develop the Hyku repository software into a meaningful solution for library consortia. The project team will periodically make updates to this blog on our progress, and we’d like to start with an introduction to the project and a glimpse into what we envision for the future.

The collaboration between PALCI and PALNI began more than a year ago. In 2017, PALCI and PALNI engaged members of the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) in meetings at the American Library Association Midwinter and ICOLC Detroit conferences to discuss consortial IR needs where over thirty consortia expressed interest in collaborative IR efforts. After discussions with other consortia, and having completed an extensive environmental scan, the partners identified Hyku to have the highest long-term potential as an affordable, scalable consortial solution. 

In Fall 2017, PALCI piloted a scaled-back, hosted version of Hyku, the only available open source, multi-tenant IR software. The HykuDirect pilot was part of a grant project run by Stanford, DuraSpace, and Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and funded by IMLS (LG- 70-15-0006-15). Tests showed the software was promising, but additional development work was required to build on the success of this project. In early 2018, PALNI developed a Consortial IR Vision (https://goo.gl/58HCuz), which provides a graphical sketch of the desired multi-tenant environment, maps out specifications for several functional levels, and defines user management needs. This document has been shared and used widely across the consortial and library communities and has been effective in conveying the consortial IR vision to partners and service providers. 

Our new IMLS-funded project will allow us to further develop, test, and evaluate the product in order to move toward a production-ready service. Notch 8, a web development firm with substantial Hyku expertise and a leader of and major contributor to the Samvera community, has been identified as the project’s lead application developer to create a multi-tenant Hyku instance for shared use by our two consortia through this project.

Our first step in the project was to convene a group of representatives from across our two consortia into a Product Management team to help us define the features needed for truly collaborative workflows. These features will enable consortia members to work together in the creation and management of repositories, allowing members to share the burden of administrative tasks like metadata creation, enacting embargoes on content, or clearing copyright if they choose to collaborate. In addition, we will be developing new worktype models for electronic thesis and dissertation (ETD) objects and open educational resources (OER), and working on the ability to customize features for individual tenants.

Our Product Management group have begun their work and we expect to begin heavy development in early 2020. A pilot project will follow in the summer, during which we will develop our plan for future governance and sustainability among consortia members. In the coming months we hope to be able to share here documentation of our plans and progress.