Triceratops begins with two collections

by Spencer Lamm

s11_triceratops-fullThe TriCollege libraries recently launched a fully redesigned installation of DSpace, the open source institutional repository application developed by MIT and Hewlett-Packard. Named Triceratops, the TriCollege DSpace instance will serve to preserve and provide access to a range of digital materials including: faculty and student publications and research; recordings of lectures, arts performances, and college events; college archival materials that fall within the collection guidelines of the Friends Historical Library, the Peace Collection, and the Rare Book Room. The libraries are excited about Triceratops because there is a wide array of materials on our campuses in need of stewardship, and in addition to providing secure long-term management of born-digital objects and digital transfers, Triceratops will also allow for easy web-based access to those items when feasible.

At Swarthmore, the libraries have started work on Triceratops with two collections: the Historical Films of Swarthmore College and the Student Theses of the Sociology and Anthropology department. The Historical Films collection consists of high-resolution digital transfers of 48 16mm films from 1925 to 1986 held by Friends Historical Library. They document many significant events in the college’s history including commencements (the 1964 centennial commencement featuring President Lyndon B. Johnson is a highlight), alumni and parent days, and even a student-produced film, “The Crime.” Triceratops will allow the libraries to preserve the digital versions of these films for the long-term while also providing simple web-based access to them.

Working in collaboration, the Sociology and Anthropology department and the libraries are archiving the department’s complete run of student theses dating back decades. Students regularly use these theses, so having them in Triceratops will solve two issues for the department: with Triceratops‘ browsing tools and support for full-text searching, it will be easy to find all the works on a topic, and students will be able to access them over the web instead of having to check out the department’s lone copy. To protect the privacy of authors and subjects, access to all historical theses is restricted to the Swarthmore College campus. Working forward, all new theses will be added to the collection and authors will have the option to make their works public.

In addition to its preservation tools, full text searching, and support for web-based playback of media files, Triceratops offers a number of other features that make it an excellent solution for managing and presenting digital objects. Triceratops is customizable and easily tailored to meet the specific needs of different collections – each collection can have its own descriptive metadata schemas for cataloging and its own rules for the display of bibliographic data. Triceratops supports web-based submission of new items, and this process can be tailored for each collection. Many elements of the web design can also be adjusted at the collection level, including the formatted citations on each item record, which can follow any of the major citation formats. Triceratops also supports a highly granular system for providing/limiting access to elements of the repository. A number of access levels (IP-based, password, public) can be applied to any level of the repository (collections, items, individual files).

The next steps for Triceratops are to continue to add collections like Historical Films and the SOAN theses while also expanding the types of collections it archives. The libraries hope to be archiving campus art performances and faculty publications and research output in the near future. If you have or know of a collection that should be considered, please contact Spencer Lamm at

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