IRLS 675 Unit 4: Drupal and Digital Collections

drupal icon, svg version

drupal icon, svg version (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Going Digital with Drupal Collections
This week our task is to consider how suitable Drupal might be for our collections. I am creating a Physics Collection for the students and faculty at my local college. The students are undergraduate students and the faculty are actively involved in research at the college. Students will be using the collection so it will be important to have them use search terms that are familiar to them. I can easily create a field in Drupal where users such as students can input search terms. Having a student user define subject terms would be beneficial as experts such as Physics faculty will sue different search terms. A collection of the terms that students use would be valuable to the collection.

Drupal Advantages
The Science, Humanities, and Arts Network of Technological Initiatives lists a number of advantages that Drupal has for developing content-based projects. “Drupal is ideal for content-based projects that seek to organize and connect a variety of media and data. With its fine grained system of permissions and its ability to create and link arbitrary content types, Drupal is ideal for projects where the goal is to link as many things as possible, and to discover, in the process, the patterns that connect them. “ See

The House Divided Project at Dickinson college is just one examples of how Drupal can be used to build a digital collection. See For a good description of the collection see This project has over 10,000 items in its collection.

Authorization and Permissions
Drupal is able to accommodate users with various roles and authorizations. Since there will be some research documents in this collection, some users may want access restricted to the public and have research documents used primarily by internal users.  Internal users need to upload documents but special permission needs to be granted for inputting and configuring the Dublin Core elements needed for the document or other artifact that will be uploaded.

Drupal is also interoperable with a number of other systems. An example of this interoperability is the integration of Drupal  with Kaltura to create Mediabase, an audio-video collection at the University of Virginia. See In this case metadata can easily be attached to the items uploaded. The system also has faceted browsing searching enabled through the Solr search platform. An example of the PB Core metadata associated with the system can be viewed at

Virtual Research Environment
As Drupal has many modules available I could easily create a Virtual Research Environment where students and faculty could collaborate remotely on different projects. GoogleDocs is not an efficient collaborative platform for most people! An example of how different Drupal modules can be used in a Virtual Research Environment can be viewed at Although the sample VRE described at this website created with Drupal 6, most of the modules described are available in Drupal 7. I could use the Views module in a similar way in my collection. The Glossary module (See which “helps newbies understand the jargon which always crops up when specialists talk about a topic”  could be very useful for my purposes as I will have an audience of students and experts. However, the Glossary module has not yet been developed for Drupal 7.

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