DHi’s technology infrastructure and research support model are designed to be innovative and sustainable. Our approach reduces the need for regular revamping of static faculty research web pages by creating infrastructure and processes that maintain research outcomes as ‘living” web presences accessible for faculty and student collaborative scholarship. To this end we researched best practices in the development and preservation of digital collections and have developed an institutional repository for digital collections (Fedora Commons http://www.fedora-commons.org/). Fedora was chosen for its scalability and extreme flexibility in the manner in which objects can be accessed. Fedora also has built-in flexibility for the creation and maintenance over time of relationships between objects and across digital collections.
We use Islandora (http://islandora.ca/about) and other open source collaborative tools to interface with collections in Fedora Commons (http://www.fedora-commons.org/). Islandora can be used to create customized themes for faculty collections and projects. Our DHi collection development team works with Islandora and Fedora Commons consultants at Discovery Garden (http://www.discoverygarden.ca/) and Common Media (http://commonmedia.com/) with our Liberal Arts Islandora Consortium Group members (Grinnell, Lafayette,Vasser, Williams & interested partner, Amherst) to create our digital scholarship infrastructure. Our collaborators and outside consultants understand our wish to keep everything we develop open source. This includes the modules we pay to have developed so that they are available for other schools to use and extend for their purposes. In this way, we also collaborate with experts on the development and learn for ourselves what it takes to create each project.
In addition to building this infrastructure model, we also subscribe to an Internet-based storage system to “mirror” our Fedora Commons repository to ensure that the digital collections developed through DHi have multiple and redundant back ups and frequent checks for data erosion. All collections in the DHi Fedora Commons repository will be preserved by DHi at Hamilton College as ongoing digital collections. The archive will be accessible through an Islandora/Drupal multisite web presence that also serves as the initial “publication” of the data to the public. We work closely with faculty and students on each DHi research project to coordinate and design the customized themes they wish to include in presentation layers and develop any missing features or to identify potential features in the open source community. The web presence we are building for each DHi research project will be maintained and updated as new Drupal modules are developed. All programing code for these Drupal sites along with the Islandora/Drupal modules developed in consultation with Discovery Garden is available on Github and other open source code sharing Internet sites (ex: Islandora Wiki).