Why Hosted? Real World Solutions for Librarians and Repository Managers

Many librarians come to find that open source IR software is more like a free puppy than free beer. A full service, hosted model allows you to devote your energy to growing your repository and supporting your scholarly community.

Yes, I know, open source is a saint and you'd let your sister or brother marry it. But I hate the idea that for some librarians if a particular software is open source, hands down, it's the right choice. The right choice is the software that meets the mission. While the principles behind open source are admirable, when an open-source product doesn't meet your library's needs, your first obligation is to your users.

—Karen Schneider, former manager of the IR at Florida State University, ALA TechSource blog

You can spend your time on scholarship, not software

At Digital Commons, we want institutions to do what they do best: create and disseminate knowledge, develop research communities, and engage their scholars, campus, and the world at large. Their role is not to tinker with cascading style sheets, html code, submission workflows, and other operations tasks. With a hosted service, library and academic staff can do what they most need to do—showcase, preserve, and promote the intellectual output of their institution.

Digital Commons means no hardware or software infrastructure to support—either in initial capital expenses or ongoing maintenance. It means no programming or other technical costs. It means not having to worry about upgrades and managing platform obsolescence.

You have more control of your repository

Institutional repositories, regardless of platform, require lots of customizations. Digital Commons repositories can be customized and tailored to users’ diverse needs. In addition, users are fully supported during the entire repository lifecycle: development, implementation, maintenance, and upgrades. With an in-house platform, it is not uncommon that once the technical project of building the IR is complete, IT moves on to other things. The IR manager is often unable to get timely help to improve the IR. Plus, if these trained and experienced IT developers leave or move to other tasks, it can be very difficult to maintain the system or upgrade an idiosyncratic platform to address changing needs.

With Digital Commons, you do not rely on IT for your repository’s success. Librarians, administrators, and editors can upload and revise content and create series, journals, and conferences with absolutely no support from their IT staff. This builds autonomy and independence for the library and allows your IR to grow naturally and with fewer obstacles, such as competing for campus IT time.

You always have reliable, worry-free technology

Digital Commons has a robust system of failover servers, on and off-site backups, third-party archival services, and automated system monitoring to ensure 99.9% uptime. Furthermore, we have two engineers on call twenty-four hours a day, everyday. We back up customers’ repositories every 4 hours and store the data off-site with Iron Mountain, one of North America's most trusted data storage facilities.

You always have the newest features, vetted by the community

Subscribers drive much of Digital Commons feature development. We customize sites and create new features based upon customer needs. Once we identify a new set of features that would appeal to the wider community, we make them part of the platform so that everyone can benefit from them. Examples of new features that were developed recently in this manner include book galleries, tables of contents, and a new ETD structure with embargo support.

With Digital Commons, all subscribers are on the same version and get all new features. The upgrades to the platform are done quarterly, free of charge, and with no downtime. Documentation and webinars ensure that subscribers know how to take advantage of these new features. On an open source platform, many users cannot upgrade to newer versions because they don't have the internal IT resources for such a time-intensive process.

You get the best and most reliable usage metrics

Download counts are increasingly important to both faculty members and their institutions. Digital Commons automatically sends monthly readership reports to all authors whose work has been published in Digital Commons repositories. To ensure the validity of these reports, Berkeley Electronic Press has implemented industry-leading filters that know not to count downloads triggered by internet robots, automated processes, crawlers, and spam-bots (RACS). For a more comprehensive look at how we approach download filtering, read about our filter process and technology.

Your total cost of ownership is lower

Digital Commons is a single annual license, which means that costs are predictable and stable over time. While it may seem easier and less expensive to rely on free software and campus IT and infrastructure to build an IR, the total cost of hosting, maintaining, upgrading, and supporting users comes out to be significantly more than what bepress charges for an annual subscription.