Summer at Swem: Building a New Digital Platform

W&M Libraries staff have been hard work over the summer months. A few of them were excited to share their favorite project with the W&M community. Deborah Cornell, head of digital services, shares on leading a multi-year endeavor to build a new digital collections platform.

A screenshot of the Islandora homepage
A screenshot of the Islandora homepage.

Share about your favorite summer project:
The Islandora Project is a multi-year endeavor to build our new digital collections platform. It will replace the current Digital Archive, which uses DSpace as its platform. Islandora is a free, open-source digital repository system with a highly visual interface for viewing content and a robust administrative back-end for cataloging and preserving digital objects. Our system is complete and this summer we began loading it with digital content. 

What led to the initiation of the project?
Basically, the old system is outdated and limited in its user experience (UX) capabilities. The libraries’ unique digital collections, created largely from Special Collections and University Archives materials, calls for a robust platform that provides simple and appealing access to these cultural heritage materials of images, manuscripts, bound materials, and audio & video. We also partner with W&M university initiatives with digital content components that have the same needs and aims as our own collections -- free, online access to materials for research and education.

What will be the impact of the project?
People will be able to access the materials and use the content directly within their browser instead of having to download PDFs and media files, which our current system DSpace requires. With Islandora you can play A/V files within the site, scroll thru digital manuscripts, image galleries, and so much more!  We anticipate the new platform to be fully populated and public by mid-2023.