The University of Iowa is a development partner and an early adopter of Esploro. The development of Esploro came at an opportune time when we were looking for a possible replacement for Digital Commons. Our goal is to use Esploro to replace Digital Commons as our institutional repository. (Other Digital Commons functions will be replaced by OJS and Islandora.) But we also hope to move beyond that functionality to build a comprehensive catalog of all the scholarly and creative output of the University of Iowa and to create profile pages for colleges, departments, centers, and individual researchers. It’s a big goal, but we’ve made real progress over the last year.
We went “live” with Esploro in July. Because the product is still in development, that effectively meant that all the faculty publication content was successfully migrated from Digital Commons to Esploro and the records are accessible in Primo. We can also use Esploro to register DOIs with Crossref and DataCite. Subsequent releases have brought new features online. In the near future we will be able to publish our records to Google and Google Scholar. This month, we got access to the “Research Portal” (the dedicated search interface, built in Primo VE) and the “Researcher Center” (the self-deposit and profile management interface for researchers). This is only phase one of the Research Portal. We expect phase two next year, and that interface will have more features and be more customizable. Automatic capture is the next big feature we’ve been waiting for and we expect to see it in production early next year. This is the feature that crawls the Summon index and other databases and uses an author matching algorithm to find and import records for publications by our authors. This is really where Esploro goes beyond a traditional institutional repository.
Our status as a development partner and early adopter has given us an extraordinary amount of input into the features and functionality of Esploro. We’ve worked hard with Ex Libris to make sure this product will work for us and hopefully it’ll work well for others too. We’re most impressed with the level of control we have over the content. We decide who’s a “researcher.” We decide what gets added and what doesn’t. We can edit and augment records from Summon and other external sources. We haven’t made a big public splash with it yet (we’re waiting for more features to come online), but we’re very excited about the potential for creating an authoritative and locally-curated source for publication data. Even if some departments or individual faculty decide not to implement it as a profile system, they will be able to take the high-quality data we gather and use it in their preferred systems.