Thursday, 28 February 2013

First steps: setting up an Islandora repository

My first priority was to create a way to view our digital documents, and I was glad to have the advice of the Research Computing Team Leader, who had been monitoring the progress of the new Islandora digital asset management system, developed by the Robertson Library at the University of Prince Edward Island.  The software consists of a Fedora repository combined with a Drupal "front end,"  and for me the beauty of it is that it offers both the Internet Archive's  turn-the-page viewer and a custom-made Islandora large image viewer in which documents can be viewed flat.  I like the viewing versatility this choice allows, and am also attracted by the Islandora Digital Humanities solution pack currently under development, but available soon, which will introduce text-encoding functionality.  I anticipate that this will permit more sophisticated digitisation projects in due course. 

Front page of the new Islandora digital repository
In November 2012, the Research Computing Team were able to download, customize and set up the Islandora solution packs needed to launch the initial repository, and my task has since been to populate it with digital content - the new St Andrews Digital Collections.  The pre-set-up process involved lots of discussions between myself and Research Computing staff as we tried to decide what we wanted and whether/how it could be done, but this painstaking talking stage seems to have paid off well.  The result is a product which displays documents handsomely, and which the Research Computing Team is happy to support.

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