Curator's Workbench

The Curator’s Workbench is a tool that automates and streamlines the process of preparing collections of digital materials for submission to a repository. The Workbench will capture and stage files, generate manifests that include fixity information, arrange folders and objects, normalise metadata to custom requirements, and finally create a submission package for ingest into the archive.


Carolina Digital Repository, an initiative of the University Libraries of UNC Chapel Hill.

Licensing and cost

Apache 2.0 – free.

Development activity

Version 4.1.5 of the Curator’s Workbench was released in April 2014. The software was created for the Carolina Digital Repository, and continues to be developed to support the workflow needs of UNC Libraries.

Platform and interoperability

The software is built upon the Eclipse Rich Client Platform, using Eclipse’s Modeling Framework and Graphical Modeling Framework, and requires Java 7. Standalone versions have however been compiled for 32-bit Windows and 64-bit Windows, Mac OSX and Linux. The software incorporates iRODS jargon client libraries, and is extensible by plug-in.

Functional notes

The Workbench’s crosswalk tool is able to map user-supplied metadata fields to MODS elements, allowing the user to define how each MODS record is created, which elements are used and where they come from in the source metadata. This can be done at the project level, allowing batch staging; the software is capable of migrating thousands of descriptive records at a time and linking them to data objects. As of version 4.0, crosswalks can be copied between projects and reused, and common mappings can shared by means of data dictionaries.

As materials are selected, arranged, and described, the software generates a METS file that documents these processes. In addition, it generates checksums and UUIDs for each object. When a project is ready for submission, an export function translates the internal METS into an XML-viewable submission package ready for ingest. BagIt export is also supported.

Curator’s Workbench was designed for use in the Carolina Digital Repository, which uses a web interface for ingest into a Fedora repository with iRODS storage. To address the unreliability of web ingest, the software can stage files in advance. In the CDR setup, individual users have accounts in a staging area within the iRODS grid; files placed there by the Workbench are readable by the Fedora instance at ingest time, at which point they are also copied into archival storage.

Documentation and user support

Carolina Digital Repository does not provide direct support. There are Google groups for users and developers, though the former seems to be only intermittently used and the latter remains entirely unused. Issues may be reported using the GitHub issue tracker.

The Workbench incorporates its User Manual into its help system but does not provide a separate PDF instance of the document. Some technical information is available on a GitHub wiki.


The Workbench GUI is extremely simple and easy to use, although solid familiarity with metadata standards is essential.

Expertise required

Installation and configuration require deep system administration knowledge.

Standards compliance

The Workbench uses METS XML for project definition files and submission files, provides BagIt as an export option, and incorporates MODS XML for description.

Influence and take-up

Curator’s Workbench is used within the UNC library system.

Last reviewed: 
25 November, 2014