What! You didn’t know about D-space?

By Isaac Marx

If you were to ask the person sitting next to you what D-space is, they are likely to respond with an odd-looking face.  D-space is an institutional repository designed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is being used by the library to store everything and anything in a digital format online.

Linda Bills, the library director, along with Brian Kern, head of technical services for the library, have led the movement for documents to be stored in a database belonging to Allegheny College.  Michael Hurley, the instructional technologist, whose office is located by the circulation desk in the library, is available to help students with any difficulties they may encounter when using D-space.

Bills notes that D-space was initially bought to Allegheny College to store the works of Ida Tarbell.  Kern specifies that Tarbell’s works amount between 17,000 and 20,000 documents, not including the images digitized from her works.  In case you are not aware, Ida Tarbell is a renowned American writer who graduated from Allegheny College in 1880.

The process of digitizing all of her documents began in the fall of 2008.  D-space was also opened up to student work, including senior comps, at the same time.  Kern was able to release the specific totals for all five semesters that D-space has been running.  In the first academic year that D-space was available, fall 2008 to spring 2009, 68 senior comps were submitted.  In the second academic year the total submissions jumped to 145.  Currently, there are 226 senior comps available on D-space.

Advertisement for D-space has been left to comp advisors to inform their students.  Kern also notes that reminders to post comps to D-space are posted on Sakai and on Facebook in April.  This should, however, be a technology that is advertised to students in freshman and sophomore seminars.

Any student may submit any work into this archival database.  This does, however, require the approval of a faculty member in the respective department.

Kern informed me that the history department recently required a freshman seminar to submit recordings of interviews they collected from citizens in Meadville that lived through the Great Depression.  Because D-space supports essentially all formats, except the documents created using Mac’s iWork programs, users can upload media that range from pictures and videos to documents and sound bytes.

Only two departments currently require students to submit their comps to D-space, biology and international studies.  To access these comps, Allegheny students and employees must login to D-space using the link in the upper right hand corner of the site https://dspace.allegheny.edu/.

Senior comps are the property of Allegheny College according to the student handbook, page 120.  However, this is primarily so the school can retain the work to show other students without asking permission to the author each time.  Linda Bills notes that this does not mean the school will distribute the work to individuals outside the Allegheny network without the consent of the author.

Kern and his colleagues have jumped through quite a few hoops to make the work on D-space inaccessible by search engines such as Google.  Thus, the only people able to access private material on D-space are members of the Allegheny College community that have a username and password.  The username and password used are the same for Sakai and campus-owned computers.

When you go to print your final version of your comp, remember to visit the library web page and upload your work to the Allegheny Archive, D-space.