Peter Ballantyne is the head of Communications and Knowledge Management at ILRI. He has been involved with CGSpace from its very beginning. The key individuals involved in running the platform are Abenet Yabowork who manages content for ILRI and supports partners, Sisay Webshet who supports technical developments and Alan Orth who runs the back-end servers and the GitHub code repository. Various partners have their own content specialists working on CGSpace.
AIMS Team invited Peter for a brief interview on the developments of CGSpace Repository
AIMS: What is the purpose of CGSpace and how does it support ILRI and other CGIAR centres
PT: CGSpace is intended to be a complete index and repository for participating institute's information products. For ILRI, it is also the online ‘publishing’ platform where all ILRI reports and publications can be discovered and downloaded. It is both a repository of full text materials – or links to them – as well as an index of all products ILRU staff and projects have produced.
Other participants use it in similar ways, publishing their content online. Aside from the archive and publishing functions, CGSpace is used to generate reports and is gradually evolving with new features to contribute to the measurement and assessment of the products.
AIMS: What current technical developments are being handled and how are these coordinated?
PT: We currently have a production and test sites as well as a GitHub code repository where all technical aspects are managed and tracked. We have a strong relationship with Atmire to support technical development as well as user and administrator training. After testing, we generally upgrade to the latest Dspace version soon after release. To avoid being trapped in a certain version, we do as few technical adjustments to the core code as possible – the only additional modules we use are by Atmire and we count on them to keep them up to date. Keeping the application as mainstream as possible means we have been able to upgrade regularly, using any new features in Dspace. GitHub serves an important role in making our code open, keeping technical updates organized, and protecting the production site from technical errors.
AIMS: What and how has institutional policy framework helped the content growth of CGSpace?
PT: We developed CGSpace through an informal collaboration among people and institutes interested to work together. This has worked well so far and we have driven forward with cost sharing and much dedicated goodwill of colleagues. An important feature of CGSpace is its compatibility with the CGIAR Open Access Policy that requires CGIAR centres to have proper repositories for their products.
Another positive feature in ILRI is that we have put in place workflows to ensure that information on research products, and often the products themselves, comes through CGSpace. We have generally not relied on scientists to self-archive – we ask information or knowledge specialists to do that for us.