KORA: A Digital Repository and Publishing Platform

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MATRIX has developed an open source application that cultural and educational institutions can use to preserve digital materials and display them online. The application, KORA (http://kora.matrix.msu.edu), is particularly well-suited for working with digital objects of all media types and for easily creating displays of these objects in multiple ways that enhance their educational and research value. MATRIX, a humanities computing research center at Michigan State University, has built and enhanced this application in the course of seven years of research with support from the National Science Foundation.

Designed for long-term preservation and access, KORA includes unique features that meet two important needs of institutions that have limited technological resources: (1) simple design of the digital repository and the ingesting of data, and (2) the ability to display digital materials online in diverse ways, such as image galleries, multimedia educational activities, or story chapters.

The KORA architecture is unique in that it can accommodate any set of metadata schemes (or tables) in individualized digital libraries. Users can easily create metadata elements (database fields) using a simple point-and-click interface, select the type of form control for each element (e.g., required formats for date, URL, file upload, etc.), and then determine whether the element is required for each record, whether it should appear in search returns, and other features. KORA then automatically generates storage structures, ingestion (data entry) forms, and validation requirements for each metadata scheme.

Because the back-end of projects can be created in minutes by people without technical training, the overhead for getting projects started is reduced immeasurably compared to beginning with a blank SQL or other database. And because KORA is an online application, multiple users can develop a collection from separate locations at the same time. Also, KORA can ingest materials from any standardized repository and can output XML that can be harvested by these repositories.

KORA also includes an easy-to-use “associator” tool for creating relationships that combine objects of various media types. As demonstrated by diverse websites built with KORA, many creative displays are possible using this open source application.

In keeping with the need to ensure authenticity and integrity of files ingested into KORA, as described in the International Research on Permanent Authentic Records in Electronic Systems (InterPARES) guidelines, automatic fixity checking has been built into KORA to verify that data has been kept free of tampering and corruption. Long-term access to digital material can be assured by storing this preservation information in the digital repository, as described by the ISO Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS) model and Preservation Metadata: Implementation Strategies (PREMIS).

New Release: KORA 3.0

KORA 3.0 will be released this spring with a host of new features, including many major changes:

  • all new user experience design;
  • independence from MYSQL so it can be used with other database management systems;
  • enhanced Multilanguage capabilities;
  • rebuilt on Symphony, KORA will have enhanced plugin capabilities;
  • and many more features.

Originally presented by Rebecca Tegtmeyer, Dean Rehberger, Catherine Foley, and Ethan Watrall at DH2013 on July 17, 2013.

About Rebecca Tegtmeyer, Dean Rehberger, Catherine Foley, and Ethan Watrall

Rebecca Tegtmeyer is Assistant Professor of Graphic Design in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design at Michigan State University. Rebecca also serves as Director of Visual Interaction Design Projects at MATRIX: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at Michigan State University. Rebecca is an accomplished designer in both the professional and academic spheres. Before coming to MSU, she obtained her Masters in Graphic Design (terminal degree) from NC State University’s College of Design. Prior to graduate school she worked as a designer and art director at Hallmark Cards Inc. At Hallmark she had various roles that primarily involved managing product development and designers in merchandising, marketing, and in-house communications. Currently she serves on the board for AIGA Detroit (the professional association for design) as the Education Director.

Dean Rehberger is the Director of MATRIX and also Associate Professor in the department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures at MSU. Dean specializes in using online technologies and developing educational resources for the World Wide Web. He has run numerous faculty technology and workshops and given presentations for educators and cultural heritage workers from local, national and international audiences. Dean oversees MATRIX project planning, research and development, coordinating many of the grant-funded projects for the Center. His primary areas of research include: information design and architecture; digital libraries, museums and archives; Internet technologies in the classroom; and hybrid learning environments. Dean teaches course for a variety of courses at MSU for Professional Writing Program, American Studies, the Graduate Study in Rhetoric & Writing, and Museum Studies. He also helps to design and develop a number of online course for the department of History.

Catherine Foley is Director of Digital Library and Archive Projects at MATRIX. Foley has considerable experience working with KORA. She has managed NEH-funded projects to preserve and provide access to the public television series American Black Journal and to create a database to provide access to and analysis of multiple datasets about African slaves in North and South America. She manages several digital repository projects with multimedia resources from Africa, including the Community Video Education Trust digital archive , Diversity and Tolerance in the Islam of West Africa, African Oral Narratives: life histories, interviews, folklore & song from sub-Saharan African,Pluralism and Adaptation in the Islamic Practice of Senegal and Ghana and Biographies: The Atlantic Slave Data Network.

Ethan Watrall is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Associate Director of Matrix: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at Michigan State University. In addition, Ethan is Director of the Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative and the Cultural Heritage Informatics Fieldschool at Michigan State University. Ethan’s research interests fall in the domain of cultural heritage informatics and digital archaeology, with particular focus on serious games & meaningful play, mobile & geospatial (mostly within the context of public outreach and engagement), and linked open archaeological data. Ethan is co-editor of Archaeology 2.0: New Tools for Communication and Collaboration, an open access volume published by the UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press. In addition to his scholarly work, Ethan has written trade books on web and interactive design, including Head First Web Design published by O’Reilly.