From Siloed to Reusable
The Opening of Digital Collections at Johns Hopkins University
In the past twenty-five years, cross-institutional communities have come together in the creation and use of open source software and open data standards to build digital collections (Madden, 2012). These librarians, developers, archivists, artists, and researchers recognize that the custom-built architectures and bespoke data structures of earlier digital collections development are unsustainable. Their collaborations have produced now-standard technologies such as Samvera, Fedora, GeoBlacklight, Islandora 8, as well as RDF, and JSON-LD among other open schemas. A core principle animating these efforts is reusability: data, schemas, and technologies in the open era must be coherent and flexible enough to be reused across multiple digital contexts. The authors of this paper show how reuse guided the migration of the Hopkins Digital Library from an outdated isolated system to a sustainable interconnected environment in GeoBlacklight, Islandora, with metadata based in Linked Open Data. Three areas of reuse focus this paper: the creation of robust interoperable metadata; the expansion of IIIF functionality to integrate the needs of the Hopkins Geoportal’s users; the development of a broadly re/usable data migration module focused on expanding a diverse community of invested users. In focusing on reusability as an organising principle of digital collections development, this case study shows how one digital curation team produced a platform that meets the changing and specific needs of an individual institution, on the one hand, and participated in and furthered the creative coherence of the open communities supporting the team’s work, on the other.
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