Making DSpace Your Own

Dorothea Salo and Tim Donohue

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Starting an institutional repository on top of DSpace? Using BioMedCentral’s new OpenRepository service? Get control over its look and feel! Learn to modify DSpace to reflect your institution’s branding, and improve usability for both submitters and users. Learn some of the basics to making your DSpace installation unique with customized code or functionality. While you’re at it, learn about the DSpace developer community and how you can give back.

This introductory tutorial assumes no knowledge of DSpace or Java. Familiarity with basic Unix commands, FTP, and HTML recommended.

Target Audience

Librarians and staff planning or running DSpace installations who want more control over the technology. Introductory to intermediate-level. Basic Unix, FTP, and HTML familiarity useful, though not required. No Java, JSP, or CSS knowledge assumed.


Dorothea Salo is the Digital Repository Services Librarian at George Mason University; she runs Mason Archival Repository Service, GMU’s DSpace installation. Her background includes work with text markup languages, electronic publishing and ebooks, and accessible web design. Despite knowing nothing about Java or DSpace previously, she completed a visual redesign of MARS within two months of her start at GMU, and is now actively working on DSpace patches to improve the platform’s accessibility and usability.

Tim Donohue is a Research Programmer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he works on the Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS). IDEALS is the UIUC institutional repository, built on DSpace and scheduled for wide release in Fall 2006. Tim has a background in Java programming (among other languages) and, before receiving an MLS from UIUC in May 2005, was a technical architect for a Chicago-based consulting firm. He is an active member in the DSpace developer community: submitting patches, reporting bugs, and helping to answer questions on the various listservs.