Metadata Resources

Open Source Software for Digital Repositories: DSpace and Fedora


DSpace is open source software, originally developed for setting up a digital repository to capture, distribute and preserve the intellectual output of MIT. It is a joint project of MIT Libraries and the Hewlett-Packard Company. The information below is derived from the DSpace website at:

For the user:

DSpace enables easy remote access and the ability to read and search DSpace items from one location: the World Wide Web.

For the contributor:

DSpace offers the advantages of digital distribution and long-term preservation for a variety of formats including text, audio, video, images, datasets and more. Authors can store their digital works in collections that are maintained by MIT communities.

For the institution:

DSpace offers the opportunity to provide access to all the research of the institution through one interface. The repository is organized to accommodate the varying policy and workflow issues inherent in a multi-disciplinary environment. Submission workflow and access policies can be customized to adhere closely to each community's needs.

In terms of metadata, DSpace is currently using a qualified version of the Dublin Core schema based on the Dublin Core Libraries Working Group Application Profile (LAP). The LAP is used as a starting point for the DSpace application of Dublin Core, borrowing most of the qualifiers from it and adapting others to fit. Some further qualifiers were added to suit DSpace needs. The metadata elements used are available from the web site at:

DSpace Resources:

DSpace article in January 2003 issue of D-Lib:


DSpace Web Site:

Search DSpace at MIT:

Details of Functionality:

Metadata Specification:

DSpace Architecture:


The Fedora system was jointly developed by the University of Virginia and Cornell University. It is available as open source software licensed under the Mozilla Public License. The information below is derived from The Fedora Project website at:

The system has been designed to be a foundation upon which interoperable web-based digital libraries, institutional repositories and other information management systems can be built. It demonstrates how distributed digital library architecture can be deployed using web-based technologies, including XML and Web services.

The interface to the system consists of three open APIs that are exposed as web services:

Management API (API-M) defines an interface for administering the repository. It includes operations necessary for clients to create and maintain digital objects and their components. API-M is implemented as a SOAP-enabled web service.

Access API (API-A) defines an interface for accessing digital objects stored in the repository. It includes operations necessary for clients to perform disseminations on objects in the repository and to discover information about an object using object reflection. API-A is implemented as a SOAP-enabled web service.

Access-Lite API (API-A-Lite) defines a streamlined version of the Fedora Access Service that is implemented as an HTTP-enabled web service.

Major features:

Open Source
- The Fedora repository system is open source software licensed under the Mozilla Public License.
Web Services
- The interface to the Fedora repository system consists of three open APIs that are exposed as web services: Management API known as API-M, Access API known as API-A, and Access-Lite API known as API-A-Lite.
- Objects in a repository may consist of content and metadata (datastreams) that physically reside inside the repository or outside the repository. The Fedora repository system supports content of any MIME type.
XML Submission and Storage
- Digital objects are stored as XML-encoded files that conform to an extension of the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS) schema. The schema for the extended version of METS used by Fedora can be found at
Access Control and Authentication
- Release 1.1 includes a simple form of access control to provide access restrictions based on IP address.
Default Disseminator
- The Default Disseminator is a built-in internal disseminator on every object that provides a system-defined behavior mechanism for disseminating the basic contents of an object.
- Selected system metadata fields are indexed along with the primary Dublin Core record for each object. The Fedora repository system provides a search interface for both full text and field-specific queries across these metadata fields.
OAI Metadata Harvesting Provider
- The OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting is a standard for sharing metadata across repositories. Every Fedora digital object has a primary Dublin Core record that conforms to the schema at: This metadata is accessible using the OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting, v2.0.
Batch Utility
- The Fedora repository system includes a Batch Utility as part of the Management client that enables the mass creation and loading of data objects.

Fedora Resources:

Staples, Thornton, Ross Wayland and Sandra Payette, "The Fedora Project: An Open-source Digital Object Repository System," D-LIb Magazine, April 2003.

Payette, Sandra and Thornton Staples, "The Mellon Fedora Project: Digital Library Architecture Meets XML and Web Services," Sixth European Conference on Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Vol. 2459. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg New York (2002) 406-421.

Payette, Sandra and Carl Lagoze, "Flexible and Extensible Digital Object and Repository Architecture," Second European Conference on Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries, Heraklion, Crete, Greece, September 21-23, 1998, Springer, 1998, (Lecture notes in computer science; Vol. 1513).

Payette, Sandra, Christophe Blanchi, Carl Lagoze, and Edward Overly, "Interoperability for Digital Objects and Repositories: The Cornell/CNRI Experiments," D-Lib Magazine, May 1999.

Maintained by: Manjula Patel of UKOLN.
Created: 20-Oct-2003
Updated: 20-Jan-2004

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