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March 8, 2022

California Digital Library: Prioritizing Community and Sustainability as an NGLP Pilot Partner

This year marks the 20th anniversary for eScholarship as a library publisher; the program is run by the California Digital Library, in collaboration with University of California campus library staff, and provides open access publishing services for the 10 UC campuses, the Lawrence Berkeley Lab; UC Agriculture and Natural Resources; and the UC Office of the President. As a library publisher, eScholarship is the home for 90+ journals that claim an affiliation with the institution. As a repository, eScholarship hosts 300,000+ research objects, from preprints to white papers to Electronic Theses and Dissertations. It is also the repository where UC faculty continue to deposit tens of thousands of author-versions of their publications under the UC Open Access policies. 

Existing platforms do not adequately support the complexity required to support the combined role of publisher and institutional repository at this scale. As a result, CDL has found it necessary over the past two decades to build custom solutions to provide a set of compelling publishing and distribution services to its academic community. 

However, reliance on custom technical infrastructure comes at a cost. As Lisa Schiff, Associate Director for CDL’s Publishing, Archives, and Digitization group, explains, “We want to position ourselves so that we can meet a growing demand for our services, but in a sustainable way, and also to ensure that there is broad representation of voices among journal and repository unit managers and contributing authors. Doing this means shifting away from supporting  bespoke infrastructure and idiosyncratic use cases, and putting that time and those resources towards shared community solutions and working directly with scholars.  We also want better insight into where publishing workflows could be improved, so that these processes are as intuitive and efficient as possible.”

In order to engage more directly in community-led, open source platforms for journal and IR workflows, where the work of maintaining and even advancing the systems is shared among a broad set of stakeholders, this spring CDL will launch its pilot of an NGLP library publishing solution. CDL’s custom IR framework and long-ago forked OJS instance will be replaced by DSpace 7.0 and Janeway, respectively. In place of CDL’s custom web display system and stats service, both of which take a significant toll on the technical team just to maintain and lack some of the features that the diverse groups of eScholarship stakeholders would like, CDL will be using state-of-the-art solutions created within the NGLP project for aggregated display of content (through NGLP’s Web Delivery Platform) and analytics (through NGLP’s Analytics Dashboard).  


This pilot will run alongside CDL’s production system to test its ability to support the workflows and services that eScholarship’s large community of authors and researchers demand. CDL has high hopes for this set of solutions and is excited to watch the built-in extensibility unfold, making it easy to slot in other journal management systems, other IR platforms, and new systems that support new kinds of scholarly research outputs as they continue to emerge in this space.

Justin Gonder, CDL’s Senior Product Manager for Publishing is enthusiastic about opportunities to expand and improve services by moving to a more modern, extensible publishing platform. Justin explains, “We’re able to accomplish a lot with our current infrastructure, but some of the open source tools and technologies we use are outdated, and pieces we’ve developed in-house cost too much to maintain. We are anxious to move to a community-led collection of tools that will modernize and streamline our infrastructure, and enable us to flexibly adapt our services to evolving trends in scholarly communication.”

Over the course of the pilot, CDL will test a large corpus of content and data to verify the fitness of the NGLP tools for a complex, multi-institutional publishing program. This pilot will demonstrate how a library publisher running local technology can leverage components of the NGLP modular architecture to upgrade and expand established consortial library services and move from custom to community-led solutions. 

This is the first in a series of posts on NGLP’s pilot implementations launching this spring. For more information about NGLP and our pilots, visit our website.