Tuesday, December 9, 2014

DRUW Gets Going


As mentioned in our previous blog post we are developing an institutional data repository here at UW. We are joining the Hydra community and building our digital repository using the Hydra framework, which pulls together various components and platforms, including Blacklight, Solr and Fedora. More about the technologies in a later post! This project is a partnership between the Libraries and UWIT, the data will live on UWIT’s lolo filesystem.

How did we get here? A few years ago, the Data Services team conducted a survey 323 campus researchers, found that a strong need on our campus was for a place where researchers could store their data for the long term. This, coupled with funder mandates for providing public access to data meant that providing a data repository service at UW just made sense. Luckily, the Libraries administration agreed with us!

Since getting the go-ahead on the project, the majority of our time has been spent on (other than sorting technologies - to be discussed later) ensuring that we make a system that people are going to want to use and that meets their needs. The best way to do this, of course, is to figure out what those wants and needs might be. For this, we used a couple of approaches. First, we had two different standing library committees, the Data Services Committee and the Metadata Interest Group, create user stories. User stories are a technique from agile software development for defining system requirements from the perspective of the people who will use the system. There are different ways to write them, we chose to create each of ours from the skeleton sentence: “(a user type) wants to (their want) so that (why they want it)”. An example user story that was generated from this exercise: “A data depositor wants to not have to contact a librarian to upload a dataset, so that depositing can be done when they want to.” This particular story lead to a desired system feature for self-deposit of datasets. Our most common user types were “Data depositor,” “Researcher” and “Librarian.”

While these were being developed focus groups were held, which brought together researchers from across campus to discuss what they would want out of a data repository. Specifically, the questions asked of the focus groups were intended to identify potential barriers to use, so that we can be aware of those from the beginning and do our best to minimize or eliminate them. These conversations were summarized and then further distilled into the user story format. In total, 71 unique system features were identified. We are currently working on prioritizing the different features, determining what features we have the capability to include now, and what we can perhaps work towards in a future development phase of the repository project.

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