November 19, 2013


CALYX offers a choice of open source digital library systems, according to the customer’s use case. Talk to us about your requirements.

The library management system (e.g. Koha) stores metadata about library holdings. Historically, the holdings have been physical objects (books, DVDs) existing outside the LMS and described within it. Increasingly, libraries are holding large volumes of material that has been born digital or has been converted from print to digital. Whilst the LMS can point to these items, it is less well suited to storing them. A repository is needed for this purpose.

If only a small number of digital objects are held, the library’s content management system (web site) may be an appropriate repository. Increasingly however, digital collections are growing rapidly and a purpose built solution is required.

Whilst CALYX is delighted to recommend Koha as the library management solution for all but the very smallest libraries, the choice of a digital library solution is dependant on the use case of the library. A variety of solutions are available, depending on the specifics of each situation.


Our current recommendations are as follows:

USE CASE 1 – ‘Just store my objects for easy retrieval’

You have different kinds of digital objects ranging from simple images to audio and video, even new kinds of composed digital objects like 3D-models and maps. The metadata are fairly simple. You don’t want your users to come into your repository and search for objects directly. You just want to retrieve the objects from the library management system.

In this case we recommend DSpace. Digital objects are stored in DSpace and catalogued in Koha. The URL of the digital object is added to the 856$u tag of the Koha record, so that the object can be retrieved via a clickable link from the library catalogue.

> Learn more about DSpace.


USE CASE 2 – ‘I have a digital collection I want to publish to the web. I may not catalogue these in the library system.’

The second use-case would be for collections that want to deviate a little bit from the classical library and publish and present their digital or digitized objects in the web. The objects have a metadata description but all objects can be fitted into one default metadata format. The collection size is small to medium and will probably not grow that much in the future.

In this space two emerging projects are worth watching: Omeka and Islandora. Omeka has a quite polished user interface where minor theming is allowed. The emphasis is on collection and presentation of the items. It has a lot of plugins that enhance it with services such as harvesting. A plug in enables integration with Solr so that the application should scale. Islandora is based on Drupal and Fedora-commons and is a bit more complex, at first look.

CALYX is monitoring the ongoing development of these projects with interest. We’re always keen to talk about new possibilities. Contact us for more detail.



Here are some aspects to consider:

  • Social features
    • extent of interaction between users and the collection
    • commenting on media, rating, tagging
    • licensing of collection content (how may your objects be used by readers?)
    • enforcing policies (DRM)
  • User interfaces
    • web-only / desktop
    • Exchange protocols
    • versioning of data
    • workflow (are there defined routines to change/add/delete information?)
  • Internationalization
  • Integration
    • with Koha
    • of external data
    • media
    • authentication
      • text
      • sound
      • film
      • image
  • relations of data
  • Software stack
  • Code-Statistics (ohloh)
  • Usage
    • where (around the world?)
    • backing; size and activeness of community
  • Licence of the software


Need help? Simply contact CALYX and we’ll be glad to assist you.