Developing an Institutional Repository at Southern New Hampshire University: Year One

The following chapter excerpt is from the third section of Digitization in the Real World; "The Digital Campus: Digitization in Universities and Their Libraries."  Download the entire chapter (PDF) or purchase online at


Alice Platt (Southern New Hampshire University)


In 2008, Southern New Hampshire University was awarded a three-year, $500,000 national leadership grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to create a digital repository using DSpace open source software. Events from the first year of the repository’s development are presented and discussed. Key elements addressed include the challenges involved with customizing the DSpace infrastructure, creating standards for access and master files, implementing metadata standards, and developing digital preservation policies. The value of cross-departmental participation is shown, and the importance of planning for digital preservation is presented.


In 2008, Southern New Hampshire University was awarded a three-year, $500,000 national leadership grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to create a digital repository using DSpace open source software. The inspiration for the project was a collection of student theses and dissertations from the School of Community Economic Development (SCED). SCED is a unique program with participation from all over the world, particularly the United States and Tanzania, and also countries such as Uganda, Peru and the Philippines. Like many thesis collections, the projects were printed using consumer-grade equipment, and only one copy was bound and saved for the library. The international nature of the projects, in addition to the danger of losing them to deterioration, made them an attractive collection for beginning a digital repository. Faculty papers from the International Business program were also included in the grant project, to make papers once only accessible from a professor’s office available to the world.

Many institutions lack the financial and human resources to build a successful digitization program. The gap between resources available versus resources required can often be bridged by a grant; a search for IMLS grants from 2004-2008 using the keyword “digitization” shows that at least 57 IMLS grants were provided to libraries and museums for digitization projects (IMLS, 2009). Like most institutions, the repository at SNHU’s Shapiro Library could not have come to fruition without grant assistance.

The following pages share the Shapiro Library’s experiences during the first year of repository development.

The People Involved

Digitization programs need a strong level of organization and administrative support to succeed. Programs that only live within the walls of the library without buy-in from administration and other departments are at risk of failure for lack of support. The Shapiro Library’s digital repository is managed by a Digital Initiatives Librarian, who receives support from the Digital Content Specialist, two graduate assistants, and two cross-departmental committees: the Implementation Committee and the Policy Team.

The Digital Initiatives Librarian is responsible for managing the repository, including creation of metadata standards, scanning workflows, policy development, and quality control. The Digital Content Specialist creates descriptive keywords, and writes abstracts for the theses. Two graduate assistants were hired to execute the scanning, optical character recognition (OCR), and access file creation.

The Implementation Committee was initially organized to prepare the grant application, and after the grant was received, organized the necessary infrastructure. Represented on the committee are the Library Dean, the Electronic Resources Librarian, the University Webmaster, the Dean of the School of Community Economic Development, and both the head of the IT department and the IT programmer committed to the project. The committee hired the Digital Initiatives Librarian and a Digital Content Specialist, who both subsequently joined the committee. The Implementation Committee continues to meet on an as-needed basis to monitor the repository’s development.

While some members of the Policy Team are consistent with the Implementation Committee, the focus for this group is to determine policies for the repository and discuss other questions that might arise, whether they are related to file format, collection development, or metadata. Because of the nature of the team, there are more librarians represented: the Electronic Resources Librarian, Technical Services Librarian, and the Access Services Librarian are all part of the team, as well as the Digital Initiatives Librarian, Digital Content Specialist, and the Library Dean. Also on the team are the IT programmer and the Associate Dean of the Faculty. The associate dean’s participation is effective in keeping the university administration informed on the progress and policies of the repository. The Policy Team initially met every two weeks, and continues to meet at least once a month.

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