Tech Library Receives Grant for Digital Repository Collaborative

The Library and Information Center at Georgia Tech received more than $850,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to create a repository service for the several member institutions in University System of Georgia (USG).

IMLS funded a matching grant of $857,000 over three years for the "GALILEO Knowledge Repository: Advancing the Access and Management of Scholarly Digital Content." The repository will provide access to scholarly works and research information from member institutions of the USG who are participating in the grant. Tyler Walters, associate director for Technology and Resource Services for Tech's Library, is the principal investigator on the grant, and Toby Graham with the University of Georgia Libraries is the co-PI.

"We're taking the SMARTech idea-a digital scholarship repository-and establishing these services in other schools in the University of Georgia system," Walters said. "We recognized that it should be a statewide initiative from the beginning. We have been working on this for about five years now, we just lacked the funds to put the pieces together, and have money for staff members."

GALILEO is the the GeorgiA LIbrary LEarning Online system, administered by the USG. The partnership with other schools includes UGA, Georgia State University, the Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Southern University, Valdosta State University, Albany State University, North Georgia College and State University, and the College of Coastal Georgia. The partner institutions together are contributing roughly $857,000 in matching funds.

There are three layers to the project, Walters says. The project will create individual repositories for each partner institution that does not currently have one. Secondly, those working with the initiative will harvest database records and migrate it to a single site. "A user can then go to one single site and search [for information from] all member repositories at one time," he said.

Content, Walters said, will showcase the collaboration in the USG, such as Tech researchers working with UGA researchers or Medical College of Georgia faculty. "We're hoping that if users are looking for research, they will see the similarities and partnerships throughout the campuses," Walters said. "This will help make research increasingly available to the public."

Third, the group will offer repository-related services, including personnel to scan physical media to digital formats, to check on rights for publishing materials, assist in content submission and offer the opportunity to store research materials in the MetaArchive Cooperative, a collaborative repository effort between Emory University, Georgia Tech and 13 other research institutions. The Cooperative is a member-driven organization that has been funded by the Library of Congress and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Other states that have created a state-wide repository for its higher education institutions include California, Texas, Colorado and Ohio. The main difference with this project is that each member institution will have its own repository in addition to the statewide resource. By using DSpace open source software-the same used by the Library for SMARTech-each institution can customize their repository. During this project's genesis, Tyler says, Texas' repository was under construction.

He says the group submitted the proposal a year ago, and did not receive funding. "We had good reviews and remarks, so we took their suggestions and re-worked them." More than 30 full-time people from among the eight partner institutions are assisting with this effort.

In the first year, the project will establish the main repository and other individual repositories. For the second year, project staff will ensure that content is loaded and populating the single search site. The third year, Walters said, will be for the symposium and workshop, so other institutions can establish their own consortiam-based repositories. "It's not just about the technology," Walters said. "There is an outreach component, training people how to do this on their own."

The challenge, Walters says, is to ensure the repository will be economically viable after three years when the grant ends. Over the three years, the grant will fund two-and-a-half full-time equivalent positions. "It is incumbent on us to show the value of this in three years' time [so it can remain funded]," Walters said. "Sustainability is the key. We'll have each [partner] institution take on what they can, and what they cannot handle we'll take care of that centrally."

Tech, UGA and Georgia State University have an institutional repository. Shortly after the project was announced, Valdosta State University and Georgia Southern University have established their own.

IMLS is an independent Federal agency in the Executive Branch U.S. government. Its largest grants consist of $1 million over three years. The funding period began October 1, 2009, and will continue through September 30, 2012. The Library's proposal is one of fifth-largest grant given from the IMLS' National Leadership grant program this year. Nearly $18 million was awarded to 51 institutions.

"There is a lot of competition for these grants, especially in these economic times," Walters said. "It's a real vote of confidence to receive this funding from the federal government. And we're beginning to have a history of [success with grants] in the Library. In the past, we have been partners-now, in this case, we're the lead institution." Walters adds that the Library has some proposals into the National Science Foundation, and they are waiting to hear back.

The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the world's premier research universities. Ranked seventh among U.S. News & World Report's top public universities and the eighth best engineering and information technology university in the world by Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities, Georgia Tech’s more than 20,000 students are enrolled in its Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Management and Sciences. Tech is among the nation's top producers of women and minority engineers. The Institute offers research opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students and is home to more than 100 interdisciplinary units plus the Georgia Tech Research Institute.