I’m sure everyone who pays even a small amount of attention to digital libraries has already seen this press release: Fedora Commons and DSpace Foundation Join Together to Create DuraSpace™ Organization

I have to admit that when I first saw this announcement I thought it was a late April Fool’s joke, you know, like those “announcements” that Microsoft and Yahoo are merging and will change their name to Microhoo, or something. I mean, DuraSpace? Doesn’t that sound like a joke?

(On reflection though, DuraSpace is more than a bad portmanteau of DSpace and Fedora; the use of the root “dura” is a nice touch where digital libraries are concerned. Though obviously too subtle for me.)

That said, this is a very interesting development, and one that I plan to follow very closely. I wonder if it’s a statement about the difficulty of sustaining open source projects, even large & well-established ones. I’d love to know what was said in the conversations that led up to this merger.

And here’s where I start to pontificate. While the press release says that “DuraSpace will continue to support its existing software platforms, DSpace and Fedora,” I predict that they will merge the two platforms eventually. I give it 2 years, max.

I’m also looking forward to seeing how the DuraCloud service pans out. As far as I know, Greenstone is the only DL platform for which there is a hosting service available. If DSpace & Fedora were hosted, that could be huge; it would open up digital library development to tons of cultural heritage institutions that can’t afford CONTENTdm and/or don’t have the skillset on staff to install and maintain an open source DL app now.