Yale Digital Commons

The Yale Digital Commons (YDC)  is the organizational framework created by ODAI in 2009 to develop shared infrastructure for the creation, management and dissemination of the expansive digital asset collections at Yale. YDC substantiates the digital ecosystem metaphor – it embodies the complex relationships between people, practice, technology, and content requisite in today's digital information environment, and it recognizes the importance of moving away from departmental information silos and cultivating a holistic digital environment instead.

YDC2 facilitates this collaboration and coordination by bringing together partners -- to develop common practices and policies, integrate and share digital media content, build a shared core infrastructure, and implement policies to support cultural heritage digital initiatives at Yale.

Core Principles of Yale Digital Commons

  • Actively engage creators, users, producers, and managers of digital content.
  • Encourage appropriate sharing of digital content across the University.
  • Collaborate to identify shared outcomes and to support common needs.
  • Respect domain differences while sharing common infrastructure.
  • Improve sustainability of technical solutions through larger-scale adoptions.
  • Share best practices.
  • Eliminate redundant efforts.
  • Ensure end-of-life migration plans.

The key technological tools for the YDC include a powerful digital asset management system, highly reliable mass storage, a cross-collections aggregation and discovery service, a permanent linking service, and digital preservation services. These tools in the aggregate are now called the YDC2 Content Platform.

The OpenText Digital Asset Management (DAM) system is a core component of the Content Platform. The DAM -- Yale's media management environment, streamlines digital media work processes and work management, organizes audio-video assets in a shared repository with documents and images to ensure that they can be easily maintained and accessed by professional staff, provide consistent methods to support fulfillment of patron requests for specific versions of digital audio-video materials and supports distribution of these assets to publishing venues and dissemination channels

In the web environment, change happens rapidly and continuously. Links to resources break frequently as content is moved from server to server. Citations and references that depend upon a link can be compromised if that link is broken. A persistent linking service is an important component of any digital content management environment. It allows systems and people to link digital content with the assurance that the link will properly resolve to the content, even if that content has been moved. Many of Yale’s digital services such as the Library’s Orbis electronic catalog, Cross Collection Discovery, and other various digital repositories rely on the Yale Persistent Linking Service (YPLS) to maintain millions of persistent links pointing to Yale’s valuable digital assets.

Secure and abundant storage environments are a challenge for all organizations creating and storing digital content. All of the museums and libraries at Yale are partners in the acquisition and use of the Isilon mass storage solution that was implemented with ITS in August 2009. It has been integrated with the DAM to support large-scale digital staging areas for the project partners and to support digital preservation. This shared environment reduces the overall support cost to the university. A tape storage solution is currently being planned that will leverage major university investments in storage environments for the sciences in support of cultural heritage content.

The Discover Yale Digital Content gateway provides and aggregated view of the collections that have been digitized to date by the museums.  This search and retrieval service also supports the recently adopted policy on open access to all digital representations of works in the public domain from cultural heritage and natural history collections at Yale University.

A coherent, timely, and economically efficient program for persistent access to Yale's digital assets is built into the Content Platform. The service level guide documents the complex requirements of digital preservation and creates a tiered set of services. A “hybrid” bit-level preservation repository is the first iteration of a production system to meet the baseline requirements (service level 1) for digital preservation at Yale.