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Opportunities in the Migration Process

Charlottetown, PE — Migrating data to the Islandora repository framework presents an opportunity to get to know users better. Solution Architect Mitch MacKenzie, advised focusing on the human element of the process during discoverygarden’s first webinar of 2016.

“I sincerely believe that migrations are a time of great opportunity and they are very manageable”, said Mitch, “the skills needed by a developer to do a migration usually fall into the basic categories of data manipulation, data transformation, basic data structures.  The challenges come on the human side.”

So how can one better understand the human side of repositories? Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Why are we considering a migration?
  • Who are our stakeholders and how will they measure success?
  • What do our users want and need?

Informational interviews with stakeholders are a great method for gathering answers. Afterward, distill the themes discussed in the interviews into users stories, such as:



As a ________, I would like ________, so that _________.


User stories are a helpful for shaping scope, functional requirements, and priorities of any type of project.

Mitch also recommended a detailed review of data during the webinar. A data review will determine how it can be manipulated or transformed to meet the functional requirements as well as identify inconsistencies.  

It’s never been a better time to migrate to Islandora.  The maturation of the software and community is evidenced by frequent code contributions, lively online discussions, and the overall increase in organizations wanting to use the software.

Thank you to everyone who attended the webinar. If you missed it, a recording is available by visiting this link:  

Don’t hesitate to contact us with questions about the migration process, or any other Islandora services.  

Best Regards,

Adam Smith
Sales & Marketing Associate
discoverygarden inc

Islandora: Harvesting to DPLA and other Aggregators
Digital Public Library of America (

Digital Public Library of America (

Charlottetown, PE —  Islandora enables discovery, interoperability and reuse of digital resources, making them available to aggregators such as the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). It’s standard functionality,  right out-of-the-box. 

Islandora is a suite of modules that integrate Drupal, Apache Solr and Fedora Commons together, providing a robust feature set for building digital repositories. One such module is called Islandora OAI. It’s a standard and easy to use module that makes repository content harvestable via the Open Archives Initiative for Protocol Harvesting (OAI-PMH). This protocol is used to harvest metadata to DPLA, Europeana, Trove and many other aggregators. 

An example of this kind of project is Digital Culture of Metropolitan New York (DCMNY). It’s an Islandora digital repository for Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) members, which also serves as an on-ramp to DPLA. Also, METRO administers the Empire State Digital Network (ESDN), the service hub for the state of New York. It harvests metadata from DCMNY as well as other Islandora digital repositories around the state to contribute to DPLA. 

Chris Stanton, Metadata Specialist with ESDN and Anne Karle-Zenith, Digital Services Manager of METRO, spoke about harvesting content from Islandora to DPLA in a recent webinar. 

“We found that the Islandora OAI module has been really successful for us. Once enabled, the module is straightforward to configure and makes it easy to share records with projects like the DPLA”, says Chris Stanton. Aside from being easy to use, Chris says the harvesting process has had a positive impact. “One of the goals of ESDN and one of the exciting parts of it that got people really motivated to contribute work was the opportunity to go back and think about and improve local metadata on top of contributing to DPLA. The positive impacts have been two-fold.” 

Impacts of the project are growing. “Content contributors are beginning to see the benefits of being harvested”, says Anne Karle-Zenith. “DPLA recently released a set of primary source sets for educators, which included content from one of the collections in our repository in a resource about the Harlem Renaissance. The content contributor was completely thrilled.”  

To learn more about Islandora’s harvesting capability, please contact us at 

Islandora Research Data Repositories

Open Research Data (ORD) has many benefits. For researchers it can mean having their work cited more often, but the impact can be much greater. In a recent article titled Shall we share? A repository for Open Research Data in agriculture and environmental sciences (2015) the authors spell out the big picture impacts.

[...] Sharing research data can ultimately lead to faster scientific progress and economic growth, for the benefit of researchers that share their own data, the researcher that re-uses others’ data, for innovative industries and citizens (Abbà, et al., 2015, p. 4).

The authors are involved in the V2P2 repository project, based primarily in Torino, Italy. It’s focused on improving access to agricultural data internationally.  To do so, the project needed to focus on interoperability and aggregator harvesting capacity.

“One of the main barriers to open research data (ORD) is the need for interoperable data e-infrastructures that allow researchers to manage a whole scientific information life cycle and a variety of stakeholders from different sectors to retrieve and exploit these data” (Abbà, et al., 2015, p. 1).

To facilitate ORD, the project team selected the Islandora digital repository framework for the pilot instead of a database system, to ensure they’d be on the cutting edge of digital curation technologies. Islandora has integrated tools for:

  • describing and harvesting data

  • using standardized vocabularies

  • using standard metadata standards

  • creating relationships with ontologies to associate data

  • ingest any file format and generate meaningful derivatives to facilitate accessibility and discovery.  

V2P2 is one of a handful of Islandora research data repositories that will help inspire the next wave of innovation in the Islandora community.

Simon Fraser University (SFU) in British Columbia, Canada is undertaking a research data repository as proof of concept in the hopes of helping researchers manage, preserve, and publish their research data. It’s collecting data from all disciplines, including but not limited to numeric data, image-based, observational and survey data  (Simon Fraser University, 2014). The project is using  SFUdora, an Islandora & Pydio integration module built in collaboration with discoverygarden to facilitate the project. The integration provided researchers with an interface and experience similar to Dropbox, a commercial cloud-based storage service, in addition to Islandora's enhanced preservation functionality.

The University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI), the birthplace of the Islandora framework, is also making strides with research data curation. A survey conducted at the UPEI library found the many of the university’s researchers used Dropbox to manage research data, although they also mentioned the desire for local storage. The library realized the various challenges with this approach, including  privacy issues, lack of standards and interoperability, preservation, and the lost potential to share data more broadly (M. Leggott, personal communication, July 9, 2015).

As an alternative, the library is now encouraging researchers to manage their data with Islandora for the entire lifecycle of the project - from grant applications, through the gathering of findings to the  publishing of conclusions. The Library facilitated the process with its Virtual Research Environment (VRE) program, where any Faculty, Administrators, and Researchers affiliated with the university could apply for their own repository. The library also spearheaded enhancements to the repository system to accommodate special requests from researchers, such as a data plan creation tool, custom data ingest forms and tools to help manage lab operations. (University of Prince Edward Island, n.d.). More recent efforts (soon to be launched at built on the SFUdora project (mentioned above) and other efforts reflecting research data management best practices will be used to  provide a full featured "out-of-the-box" repository for research.

The ideas and practices surrounding research data management have percolated down to the researcher level. For example, a group of researchers studying Canadian management theory decided to use Islandora to preserve and make accessible information supporting their research. The project, spearheaded by Associate Professor and Area Coordinator of Business Technology Management at Wilfrid Laurier University, Patricia McLaren, resulted in the ground work for discoverygarden’s soon-to-be-launched Islandora OnDemand for Researchers. Working with McLaren helped discoverygarden determine what services and price point would be required for researchers.

In all examples presented here, research data is being curated and/or exposed as a valuable asset in the research process.  This work underlines what research data initiatives internationally such as Europe’s Horizon 2020 Open Research Data project are attempting to promote: the deposit of research data for long-term preservation to enable access, mining, exploiting, reproducing and disseminating data in an open way (Abbà, et al., 2015, p. 2). The outcomes will include leveraging data to its highest potential as well as an opportunity to accelerate research through collaboration.

To continue the discussion on research data management, join our next Islandora Webinar: Research Data Repositories on July 29, 2015 at 12 pm EDT. To register, click here.


Abbà, S., Birello, G., Vallino, M., Perin, A., Ghignone, S. and Caciagli, P. (2015), Shall we share? A repository for Open Research Data in agriculture and environmental sciences. EPPO Bulletin. doi: 10.1111/epp.12212

Simon Fraser University. (2014). Research Data Repository. Retrieved from

University of Prince Edward Island. (n.d.) VREs (Virtual Research Environments). Retrieved from