With the implementation of Digital Space — DSpace — into UR’s library system, UR will be on the cutting edge of information sharing.DSpace is a digital archive system developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Hewlett Packard to enable users, such as individual university departments, to easily store digital media, such as working papers, audio and video files — even software programs.

MIT received a $300,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop DSpace at six institutions. MIT chose UR, along with Columbia University, Ohio State University, Cornell University, the University of Toronto and the University of Washington to help pave the way for widespread use of DSpace.

Susan Gibbons, Director of Digital Library Initiatives and Coordinator of DSpace at UR, sees great promise in the DSpace program.”The DSpace community allows individual departments to create their own section on our DSpace server,” Gibbons said. “They can then upload their working papers, research papers, and anything else they wish for others to see.”

DSpace allows faculty members to bypass the whole publication process. Rather than waiting months for their findings to be published, they can post their working papers, data sets and other material instantaneously to the Web for all to see. This presents a great improvement in research abilities for both students and faculty members.

This digital archive can be searched by Google, giving researchers free and fast access to the latest data. Previously, library systems had to pay expensive subscription fees to scientific journals in order to archive important findings, even if the researcher was a faculty member.Gibbons said that DSpace’s objective is not to undercut publishing profits.”We’re not trying to bring down the publishing industry. Rather, we are assuming that faculty members have relevant information that they wish to store.”

“We are providing them a means to do so, if they wish. Instead of giving faculty members extra work building Web sites, with DSpace, they can just quickly upload their work and let DSpace distribute it to the world,” Gibbons said.

There are also pitfalls to the digital archive of research. With information published in journals, there is a level of accuracy and a stamp of credibility attached to the piece through peer reviews.

With DSpace, however, there are no regulating controls. Anyone can submit anything to the database.

According to Gibbons, one such instance occurred in Europe where a newspaper, while searching through a similar digital archive, found a paper suggesting vaccinations cause autism and then published an article on the subject.

This led to some parents refusing to give their children vaccinations and allowing the rise of previously eradicated viruses, such as smallpox.DSpace will be available on the UR campus sometime between May and June. DSpace is an open-source program that can be downloaded from www.sourceforge.net. He can be reached at mhe@campustimes.org.

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