Developing Flexible Interfaces in Support of a Heterogeneous Digital Repository

Dr John Howard - UCD

The UCD Digital Library comprises an organisation as well as digital systems that have undergone distinct stages of growth and development. In an initial phase it was a component of a research project funded by the HEA's PRTLI programme, Cycle 3, from 2007 to 2009. Staff in UCD Library provided technical support for development of a digital repository to manage a heterogeneous set of cultural heritage data; it also created digitisation services to capture representations of many kinds of analogue source materials. Candidates for digitisation were identified to support research undertaken by academic staff and students as well as to broaden access to primary source materials of national and international interest. The public view on the web of the repository created by this project was the Irish Virtual Research Library and Archives (IVRLA).

A second stage of development began, in effect, with the public launch of the IVRLA web site and the expiration of external funding in 2010. This phase focused on both organisational development and advancement of the technical infrastructure. The organisational objective was to establish sustainability to embed the technical service components of the IVRLA permanently in the structure of UCD Library. Technical development was oriented toward sustainability as well, with the focus on further adoption of international best practices for data modeling, description, and preservation

A requirement also emerged at this time to implement a preservation-oriented archive for datasets managed by the Irish Social Science Data Archive (ISSDA). ISSDA is Irelandís national centre for management, preservation and access to quantitative social science data. Its mission is to facilitate national and international research for the betterment of Irish society. For both the UCD Digital Library and ISSDA, there is also a goal of achieving status of trusted digital repository (TDR) as defined by the European Commission. Organisational goals were achieved with a restructuring of the UCD Library in 2012 and the IVRLA was re-launched in that year as the UCD Digital Library. Technical development is ongoing and UCD Library and ISSDA are currently engaged with a TDR certification process.

This presentation describes the third and current phase of development. This phase addresses new requirements for Open Access, particularly to research data; it also begins development that will facilitate assessment both of compliance to Open Access regulations and of assessment of impact of university research activity. On the one hand there is a focus on adoption of semantic technologies and vocabularies that improve access to data and facilitate analytics; on the other there is new focus is on the specification and implementation of interfaces to expose repository content to researchers and general users through easily used application programming interfaces (APIs). Five services are now available via RESTful web services interfaces: a general web API, a search API, a geospatial API, an API for delivery of still images, and a Linked Data API. Additional services make available a SPARQL endpoint and an OAI-≠-PMH Provider Service, adding to the flexibility of access. API implementation has been informed by internationally recognised best practices; all services return data and metadata in formats useable by many stakeholder communities.

The presentation will discuss the rationale for this current phase of development and provide a detailed overview of these services and an introduction to their functionality and use.