Digital Archiving Software

A number of proprietary and open source software exists to set up a community archive for public access.  Some of these are classified as content management systems, others as digital library software and some as preservation systems.  Nearly all of these systems require some modifications or configurations at the server level to function on the web, so if you intend to use any of these systems, you may need to employ a system administrator or IT professional to get your system up and running.

Open-source software (OSS) is defined on the Open Source Initiative website as having free distribution, source code accessibility, derived works, integrity of the author’s source code, no discrimination against persons or groups, or against fields of endeavor, distribution of license, no restrictions to other existing software and be technology neutral.  Some well-known developers of OSS include MySQL, Mozilla Firefox, and Android.  It is worth noting that while open-source software is free, free software does not always correspond to the above-mentioned definition of open-source.

Proprietary software by contrast is rarely offered entirely for free and relies heavily on future sales. Behemoths Microsoft, Apple and Oracle are examples of key distributors of proprietary software.

The key advantage of open-source software for preservation is an assurance that as long as the source code remains available, it is possible to modify the program to work on new operating systems in the decades to come.

Open source systems:

CollectiveAccess: CollectiveAccess is a cataloging and web-based tool for digital collections, available free-of-charge under the GPL open-source license. According to CollectiveAccess, their tool is a configurable cataloging tool that according to the website, does not require customer programming.

Collection Space: Collection Space is a collections management system used by many museums, historical societies and other collection-holding organizations. The Collection Space software appears to need to be installed by a systems engineer to ensure that it is properly implemented.

DSpace: DSpace is open-source software, which is intended to enable sharing of content for digital repositories.  DSpace, like many of the other open source software alternatives, requires a certain amount of programming expertise to implement.

Fedora: Fedora Commons Repository Software was inspired to serve as an architecture for storing, managing and accessing digital content.  The Fedora Commons Repository Software is an open-source software system and would require a high degree of programming expertise to implement.

Greenstone: Greenstone is open source multi-lingual software developed by the New Zealand Digital Library Project at the University of Waikato, distributed under terms of the GNU General Public License.  This is one of the few open source alternatives that has a book detailing how to use the software.  The book, however, does not include much information about setting up the servers to accommodate Greenstone, so therefore, it is important to have someone in the project with some fundamental programming experience, so that the server and implementation can be set up properly.

Invenio: Invenio is an open-source software suite intended to be used for running a digital library software or document repository on the web.  Invenio was developed by CERN for an internal document server and is built to be compliant with the Open Archives Initiative and MARC 21.

Proprietary systems:

CONTENTdm:  CONTENTdm is a proprietary digital collection management software from OCLC. CONTENTdm requires less programming experience to implement than many of the open source alternatives, however has monthly costs associated with its maintenance and implementation.

SimpleDL: SimpleDL is a proprietary software for distributing digital files via a digital library. SimpleDL functions via a web interface, which is designed to make the design and maintenance of the digital library simple.  SimpleDL is charged monthly according to storage space used.


Please note:

This information was compiled on August 4, 2011 and due to the changing nature of software, may become dated quickly.  Please feel free to comment in the section below if you would like to add further software recommendations to this page.

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