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The hierarchical DSpace datamodel has long been recognized as a limiting factor for using DSpace in contexts other than typical institutional repository services. This proposal presents a new contribution to the DSpace 6 development facilitating the creation of durable item relations in DSpace. The contribution allows repository managers to break away from the tightly defined hierarchical structure and enables a variety of new use cases for the DSpace platform.
Unlike past proposal with similar ambitions, including the DSpace 2 prototype work, the proposed approach and contribution has been fully developed and is operational today. The functionality was established in such a way that backwards compatibility with the standard DSpace datamodel has been preserved. As a result, the inclusion of the work into the DSpace codebase does not present the community with new constraints or limitations that would hinder adoption.
These developments have been undertaken by the Flemish Government Department of Environment, Nature and Energy. The main motivation for these developments was the need for representing complex objects in DSpace, while preserving the possibility to apply granular access controls on items and bitstreams.