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Arca Discovery Layer Task Group

*Operational from November 2015 - May 2016

Arca is a collaborative initiative to support the development and implementation of digital repositories at BC post-secondary institutions. Foundational to the creation of the proposed Provincial Digital Library, Arca is a province-wide network of digital repositories that:

  • provides access to faculty and student research output across multiple post-secondary institutions via a cross-repository search layer;
  • supports the management of institutional digital assets; 
  • showcases BC as a hub for knowledge creation across Canada and around the world.

Arca is built on Islandora, a Canadian-developed open-source platform currently in use at over 100 public and private institutions worldwide. This shared platform provides postsecondary institutions with open-access repositories for research, theses, and any other digital assets they wish to make available to the wider community.

Phase 2 of the Arca project is development of a discovery layer enabling cross-repository search of BC post-secondary digital repositories, including those using repository platforms other than Islandora. For the scope of this Task Group, an institutional repository is a service that enables an organization to manage, store, preserve, and provide access to digital content created and managed by local institutions. A repository may include a wide variety of content for a range of purposes and users and may support research, teaching, learning, and administrative processes. The discovery layer is intended to be a unified search interface, fully searchable across institutions and collections. Search results are consistent and can be filtered by the end user.


The Arca Discovery Layer Task Group received a mandate from the Arca Advisory Committee to:

  • Identify goals and use cases for the Arca discovery layer;
  • Identify options for implementing the discovery layer;
  • Evaluate discovery layer options to ensure they utilise industry standards for interoperability, with an eye to potential future use beyond the post-secondary sector;
  • Represent and consider the interests and needs of a diversity of BC post-secondary digital repositories
  • Make a recommendation to the Arca Advisory Committee of a solution that best fits the Arca project's currently outlined needs.


Membership in the Arca Discovery Layer Task Group consists of representatives from Arca participating institutions, other BC post-secondary digital repositories, and the Arca Advisory Committee, as well as the BC ELN coordinator. The following criteria guides membership:

  • To ensure efficient decision-making there will be a maximum of 10 members, including the Advisory Committee liaison and the BC ELN Coordinator.
  • The Chair of the BC Digitization Coalition Task Group will have a seat to ensure the group has an understanding of other sectors' needs.
  • Members should be individuals with a high level of technical expertise and a system orientation.
  • Members should be available for frequent meetings for the duration of the process, expected to be completed within 2016.


  • BC Digitization Coalition Task Group / University of British Columbia – Paul Joseph
  • British Columbia Institute of Technology – Elizabeth Padilla (Arca Advisory Committee representative)
  • Douglas College – Trevor Smith (Arca early adopter site)
  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University – Caroline Daniels (Chair)
  • Langara College – Brent Searle
  • Simon Fraser University – Janice Banser
  • University of Northern British Columbia – James MacDonald (Arca early adopter site)
  • Vancouver Island University – Dan Sifton