DSpace is an institutional repository system which enables easy deposit, preservation, and access for all types of digital content. 



Licensing and cost

The code is released under a BSD Open Source License. It is free to download and use.

DuraSpace offers a hosted version, DSpaceDirect, on a subscription basis.

Development Activity

DSpace 4.2 was released in July 2014. The development roadmap indicates that version 5.0 is in preparation at the time of writing.

Platform and interoperability

DSpace is written in Java, providing a web based interface that can be installed in Linux, Mac OSX or Windows environments. It requires either a PostgreSQL or Oracle database. The software comes with plugins for most university authentication methods, including: LDAP (and hierarchical LDAP), Shibboleth, X.509, and IP-based.

Functional Notes

The DSpace data model is intended to reflect the structure of the organization using the system. Each DSpace site is divided into communities, which can be further divided into sub-communities reflecting the typical university structure of college, department, research centre, or laboratory. Communities contain collections, which are groupings of related content. Each collection is composed of items, which are the basic archival elements of the archive. Items are further subdivided into named bundles of bitstreams.

Workflows are unidirectional – e.g. an item can’t move from Live to Pending.

DSpace administrators can create multiple user roles, which allows for extremely fine-tuned access rights.

Documentation and user support

DSpace offers a wealth of documentation and user support. The website includes an extensive Documentation Wiki, and supports a number of mailing lists. Users can report and track errors through a JIRA system. The site also links to tutorials, how-to’s, and other training materials.

As of 2014, there are nine registered service providers offering presumably fee-based support alongside other services. DSpace also has an Ambassador Program, which attempts to identify a DSpace user in every country or region who is willing to volunteer to be a point of contact for organizations just getting started.


DSpace does not include an installation and configuration tool, or ‘wizard,’ which makes these processes time consuming and challenging for users without system administration training.

A number of organisations using DSpace have performed usability analyses of their repositories. While the overall structure works well, many organisations found that naming conventions were sometimes confusing for users. In addition, many users expected that the search mechanism would automatically include a Boolean AND, which is not the case.

Expertise required

Installation and configuration greatly benefit from system administration knowledge, as well as a deep understanding of repository structures and workflows.

Standards compliance

DSpace supports OAI-PMH, OAI-ORE, SWORD, SWORD2, WebDAV, OpenSearch, OpenURL, RSS, and ATOM.

DSpace metadata uses the Dublin Core standard.

Influence and take-up

As of 2014, over 1790 organizations use the DSpace software in a production or project environment. DuraSpace maintains a DSpace User Registry listing all known DSpace instances.

Last reviewed: 
24 November, 2014