Tutorial: Building Digital Library Collections with Greenstone 3

Half day tutorial, Monday, September 14, 2015, 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM.


This tutorial is designed for those who want an introduction to building a digital library using an open source software program. The course will focus on the Greenstone digital library software. In particular, participants will work with the Greenstone Librarian Interface, a flexible graphical user interface designed for developing and managing digital library collection. Attendees do not require programming expertise, however they should be familiar with HTML and the Web, and be aware of representation standards such as Unicode, Dublin Core and XML.

The Greenstone software has a pedigree of over a decade, with over for example 750,000 downloads from SourceForge. The premier version of the software has, for many years, been Greenstone 2. This tutorial will introduce users to Greenstone 3—a complete redesign and reimplementation of the original software to take better advantage of newer standards and web technologies that have been developed since the original implementation of Greenstone. Written in Java, the software is more modular in design to increase the flexibility and extensibility of Greenstone. Emphasis in the tutorial is placed on where Greenstone 3 goes beyond what Greenstone 2 can do.

Through the hands-on practical exercises participants will, for example, build collections where geo-tagged metadata embedded in photos is automatically extracted and used to provide a map-based view in the digital library of the collection. How to install Greenstone so it operates, self-contained, on an Android device will also be demonstrated.

Full Description

The librarian interface to Greenstone provides a graphical interface to the underlying digital library infrastructure, and allows users to gather sets of documents, import or assign metadata, build them into a Greenstone collection, and serve it from their web site. It supports eight basic activities:

  • open an existing collection or defining a new one;
  • copying documents into it, with metadata attached (if any);
  • mirroring documents from the Web or else protocols such as OAI and SRW/U if required;
  • enriching the documents by adding further metadata to individual documents or groups;
  • designing the collection by determining its appearance and the access facilities it will support;
  • building it using Greenstone;
  • previewing the newly created collection from the Greenstone home page; and
  • exporting the collection to other formats such as MARCXML, FedoraMETS, and DSpace.

Collections built with Greenstone automatically include effective full-text searching and metadata-based browsing. They are easily maintainable and can be rebuilt entirely automatically. Searching is full-text, and different indexes can be constructed (including metadata indexes). Browsing utilizes hierarchical structures that are created automatically from metadata associated with the source documents. Collections can include text (including PDFs), pictures, audio and video. Geo-tagged content can be seamless integrated with an integrated Map-based view. The interface can be extensively customized. Documents can be in any language: the interface has been translated into over thirty languages. The Greenstone software runs on all versions of Windows, and Unix based systems such as Mac, Linux, and Solaris.


Participants will learn to:

  • Install the software
  • Set up a digital library system
  • Build and export their own collections
  • Learn about capabilities and features of the software

Topics covered in the tutorial:


What does Greenstone do?

Greenstone facts; standards

Reader’s Interface: examples of collections

Librarian interface

Build a collection in 30 sec

Add metadata, classifiers, search indexes

Working with HTML, Word, PDF, Photos, and Scanned Documents

Going further

Extracting embedded metadata

Utilizing GPS metadata to provide a map-enhanced end-user interface

Under the hood: the collection configuration file

Customizing and controlling the look

Different interface languages

Selecting a different look using jQuery-UI themes

Greenbug: a browser embedded interactive graphical editor for Greenstone

Reaching out

Serving and acquiring OAI

DSpace and METS

Concluding discussion

Target audience

The level of this tutorial is introductory. The tutorial is designed for those who want to build their own digital library but do not want to write their own software. It is intended for librarians, archivists, and other information workers who are interested in building their own digital collections. The Greenstone Librarian Interface is designed for end users. No programming ability is required. Attendees should be familiar with HTML and the Web, and be aware of representation standards such as Unicode, Dublin Core and XML.


David Bainbridge is an associate professor of Computer Science at the University of Waikato in New Zealand where he leads the New Zealand Digital Library research project. His research interests include multimedia content analysis, and human computer interaction in addition to digital libraries. He has published widely on these areas, including the book How to build a digital library (2010), with colleagues Witten and Nichols, now into its second edition. He graduated with a Bachelors of Engineering in Computer Science from Edinburgh University, UK as the class medalist, and undertook his PhD in Computer Science at Canterbury University, New Zealand as a Commonwealth Scholar.