Texas Digital Library and LEARN announce strategic partnership

LEARN and TDL logos

The Texas Digital Library and LEARN (the Lonestar Education and Research Network) have formed a strategic partnership that will support collaboration among Texas higher education institutions and scholars by enhancing access to online scholarly communication services and strengthening the preservation of digital assets.

A non-profit collaboration of Texas higher education institutions, LEARN provides crucial networking infrastructure to the researchers, teachers, and health care workers of the state via an intrastate optical fiber network. The Texas Digital Library (TDL) provides digital services — including institutional repositories, electronic journals, and electronic thesis and dissertation management solutions — that enable the publication and preservation of scholarly work.

With their similar memberships and overlapping missions to serve the state’s research and higher education communities, the partnership between TDL and LEARN proved to be a natural fit.

“One goal TDL and LEARN share is trying to develop a contemporary set of tools that enhances collaboration,” said LEARN Executive Director Michael Phillips. “LEARN can cite the technical pieces, like our 3,000 miles of network infrastructure, but that’s only cool to the extent that it allows people to do things. That’s where the TDL and its services fit in.”

“Almost all of our members are also members of LEARN,” said Texas Digital Library co-director John Leggett, “The TDL/LEARN partnership is of strategic importance to our members in a number of areas, including federated authentication and preservation.”

Those two issues – authentication and preservation – are key areas of focus for the new partnership.

First, the two organizations will work together to establish a statewide Shibboleth federation that will encourage and assist member institutions in setting up Shibboleth federated authentication software. By leveraging the authentication and identity management systems of multiple member institutions, Shibboleth makes the sharing of applications among users at those institutions easier and more efficient.

From left: TDL Co-director John Leggett, LEARN Executive Director Michael Phillips, TDL Co-director Mark McFarland

From left: TDL Co-director John Leggett, LEARN Executive Director Michael Phillips, TDL Co-director Mark McFarland

“By partnering with LEARN,” said TDL co-director Mark McFarland, “we provide an additional resource for assisting TDL partners to get Shibboleth set up at their institutions, and we create a managed approach to installing and configuring Shibboleth.”

In addition, the TDL/LEARN partnership will enhance the TDL’s efforts to create a robust Preservation Network to safeguard the digital information produced and stored by member institutions and their faculties.

“Best practice for digital preservation requires distributing multiple copies of collections at geographically distributed sites,” Leggett said. “The LEARN network connects a set of distributed nodes in a high capacity computer network, allowing TDL to efficiently distribute copies of our collections across the state of Texas.”

By strengthening preservation and identity management options within the two organizations’ shared membership, the TDL and LEARN hope to not only improve the provision of services to these members, but also to enhance the spirit of cooperation among higher learning institutions in the state of Texas.

“Texans have always been about sharing,” Phillips said. “And in particular during a time of resource scarcity, it makes more sense than ever to share our resources and work together.”

For more information about the TDL/LEARN partnership, contact TDL Program Coordinator Ryan Steans at rsteans@austin.utexas.edu or 512-495-4403.


The Lonestar Education and Research Network (LEARN) is a non-profit collaboration of Texas higher education institutions that supports their research, education,  health care and public service missions through the innovative development, operation and utilization of advanced statewide networking and access to global services and related services. LEARN enhances Texas’ research and economic competitiveness by providing state-of-the-art, cost-effective data communications that improve education. Find out more about LEARN at http://www.tx-learn.org.

About the Texas Digital Library

The Texas Digital Library (TDL) is a multi-university consortium dedicated to providing the digital infrastructure to support a fully online scholarly community for institutions of higher education in Texas and to promote the widespread availability of their enormous intellectual capital. The TDL supports the scholarly work of its members by providing digital library and scholarly communication services, including institutional repositories, electronic thesis and dissertation management solutions, electronic journal software, and blogs and wikis. Find out more about the TDL at http://www.tdl.org.

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