York-Leeds Exchange of Experience

Notes from an exchange of experience meeting, hosted by the University of York Library and Archives, 24 April 2009, involving York University, Leeds University and York Saint John University.

Present: Jonathan Ainsworth (Leeds), Julie Allinson (York), Michael Emly (Leeds), Frank Feng (York), Matthew Herring (York), Rachel Proudfoot (WRRO), Lauren Shipley (York Saint John), Peri Stracchino (York).

YODL (York Digital Library) – Peri Stracchino

Peri demonstrated YODL, including search and browse functions, resource displays and resource submission workflow. YODL runs on Fedora software, which is extremely flexible and powerful, but only comes with a very basic user interface. YODL is currently using Muradora as its interface software. This was developed especially as a ‘front end’ to Fedora, and has been a useful way of getting a user interface implemented in the short-term.

YODL is now in a semi-live beta testing phase, with 3750 images in it (mostly from the History of Art Department). The team has built a tool (based on Xforms) to create and submit VRA Core 4 image metadata, with auto-suggest functionality or drop-down menus for most fields. LCSH and Getty vocabularies are used. Before the system can go fully live, sufficient access control mechanisms need to be built to satisfy the terms of the CLA license (under which much of the material is created), which is a major challenge. The team has recently carried out the first phase of user testing with academics from the History of Art Department.

York Saint John – Lauren Shipley

YSJ has a one-year-old program to create an open access multimedia repository to store material created as part of university projects and to support teaching. Lauren is the only member of staff working on the project and she works one day a week on it. The first one-year phase was funded by JISC and has focussed on multimedia content, especially from a project called C4C (‘Collaborating for Creativity’). The next phase will be to include etheses and research publications.

The project is live and uses ArchivalWare software. Lauren demonstrated both the public interface (including video clips of student performances) and the metadata creation workflow of ArchivalWare (using Dublin Core). The lack of time dedicated to the project is a barrier (especially as Lauren does not have time to create and ingest metadata records herself and relies on content contributors to do this) and much of her time is spent doing advocacy work for the project. Nevertheless a lot has been achieved for such a project.

LUDOS (Leeds University) – Jonathan Ainsworth

New developments:

• Thousands of digital images and metadata from the library’s special collections added. Some material is restricted as it is in copyright (it was originally created under fair dealing for individual academics and can now only be viewed and managed by LUDOS staff).
• Handle system implemented to create unique permanent IDs for objects, which can be resolved with a global resolution service.
• EAD finding aids added to LUDOS for archival collections
• Forms for user self-submission introduced

Jonathan also demonstrated some features of Digitool, including how objects can appear in more than one collection, based on search terms added to the metadata.

WRRO – Rachel Proudfoot

• Survey of researchers reported than awareness of open access is low and that the idea of institutional repositories is not a meaningful one within academic departments. Researchers do not understand the challenge of cultural changes.
• Advocacy – address awareness with PhD and early career researchers.
• REF is relevant – there is an increasing interest in citation impact (though the evidence is mixed regarding the impact of open access).
• Workflow – capturing the correct version of a paper is an issue. The optimum is at the point of publication, but also good to capture early ‘from the desktop’.
• Symplectic software used to harvest metadata about Leeds publications from abstracting and indexing services – this can later be matched up with papers deposited to WRRO earlier in their publication processes.
• How to capture grant data – Symplectic?
• Promoting self-archiving (this is more scalable than having dedicated staff to do ingesting/metadata creation). This is a big challenge, however. Centralised copyright checking will continue (some academics are worried about breaking copyright; others are not concerned enough).
• Investigating ways of importing metadata from various sources (e.g. from departmental and personal websites), but this is of variable quality. However, it is better than having no metadata.
• Access control – this is difficult as the three institutions (Leeds, York, Sheffield) all use different systems.
• Etheses – new project to add these to WRRO.

SWORD – Julie Allinson

SWORD is a standard for submitting content to repositories, which itself uses the Atom publishing protocol with an extension for metadata. The basic concept is to allow content creators to submit content to repositories easily and potentially to more than one repository with a single operation. There are both web and desktop clients for doing this. Both are based on the concept of a transaction with the client requesting a service document from the repository and receiving a receipt after their submission.


Topics discussed included:
• Metadata – the problems of describing complex resources, such as the Michael Nyman archive acquired by Leeds, using standards such as Dublin Core. YODL’s use of VRA and the flexibility of open source software, such as Fedora, to build bespoke metadata creation workflows provides one solution, but with the downside of development costs.
• Advocacy – achieving institution-wide awareness is very difficult, but crucial to success. Need to work to build basic awareness as widely as possible and to collaborate closely with particular individuals who have content to contribute.



  1. Here’s a paper on how to promote self-archiving:
    Harnad, S. (2009) Waking OA’s “Slumbering Giant”: The University’s Mandate To Mandate Open Access. New Review of Information Networking .

    and here are some videos you can use:


  2. I forgot to add the abstract:

    Open Access (OA) will not come until universities, the universal research-providers, make it part of their mandate not only to publish their research findings, as now, but also to see to it that the few extra keystrokes it takes to make those published findings OA — by self-archiving them in their institutional repositories, free for all online — are done too. Students and junior faculty -– the next generation of researchers and users — are in a position to help convince their universities to go ahead and mandate OA self-archiving, at long last.

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