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Seeking Online LIbrary/Public Contribution Solution

My apologies if this question is not appropriate for EE. Please tell me. I have been all over google and clearly am not using the right words!

Problem: My association is seeking options for an online digital library. This is a repository of digital files of many types, NOT a catalogue of hardcopy materials. Ideally, it would be off-the-shelf, but customizable.

Must have:
1.      Must allow public to contribute, but
2.      Must allow a librarian to approve contributions and clean up (titles, etc.)
3.      Must handle a wide variety of file types ranging from data files to the more traditional powerpoint, pdf, word documents
4.      Must sort, store, retrieve files in a logical manner (by type, by keywords, etc.)
5.      Must allow for easy administration  for instance for changing out or updating and removing listings by those who contributed them
6.      Must be broadly searchable
7.      Must be affordable  likely is hosted (sorry, were a nonprofit)
8.      Capacity to integrate with our back-end membership database if you must sign on to contribute

Hoped for:
1.      Capacity to discuss or comment on contributions

We do not want something written for us for multiple reasons including maintenance, updates, documentation, and the desire to potentially participate in a user community for those using the product.

The most important piece here appears to be the ability to allow lots of people to contribute. Ideally, the process for doing so should be relatively easy. If you MUST sign in to contribute, then it needs to be able to integrate smoothly with our existing back-end databases. We do not want people to have to sign in to our website twice or to have the possibility of having two usernames and two passwords (one for their membership with the association and one to use the product). Ideally, there might be really strong administration that would allow us multiple levels of access, for instance open access for members (view, contribute, download, comment) and limited access for nonmembers (view (or view abstracts?)).

I have found Greenstone, but it is more for creating a traditional academic digital library with a strong librarian who oversees and uploads all contributions. It lacks interactive components and database integration. Also, honestly, overly complicated and not the best user interface. Muradora/Fedora has similar problems (and we dont need to tap into Fedoras repository but rather to make our own). Dspace as well (ease of contribution and discussion are not there).

On the other end, I can find community building software that allows some file contribution but mostly for immediate discussion (bad archiving, searching)  the focus is too much on community, not enough on building the set of materials.

Watch Question

"1.      Must allow public to contribute, but
2.      Must allow a librarian to approve contributions and clean up (titles, etc.)"

What you are asking for here is a BBS front end -- bulletin board software -- any PHP BBS will do exactly what you want, see here for many, many products --


what you are looking for in the last 8 items is a back end, relational database program that can store, sort, archive, index and serve up documents to members, etc.  The reason I mentioned getting PHP BBS software in the above listing, is because PHP integrates seamlessly with MySQL, which is the fastest server database there is at the moment -- and yes, PHP and MySQL are part of any simple webhosting package that you can get for approx $100 per year.

1.  Get a hosting company that runs standard linux servers with PHP and MySQL already enabled.
2.  Download PHP BBS, many hosting companies already have such BBS software as part of the hosting package, so you may not even have to set this up yourself.
3.  No matter what you do, you WILL have to develop the basic structure of the MySQL database as you want it -- this is no more difficult than laying out fields in an Access database -- just it is online.

With those simple tools, and someone tech savvy enough to setup the database for you, you are GO!


I am familiar with BBS and my existing host supports PHP and SQL. But I don't want to develop something, or have it developed (yes, I could, but I don't want to do that). I want something that is already made to create such an online resource library. It then would already have appropriate warnings about copyright built in, information about uploading and downloading, and there would be an administrators community supporting those building online resource libraries. There would be integrated tools for searching, sorting, and accessing. A BBS is definitely not what I'm seeking I'm afraid. Sorry!
I realized at the outset that you want a canned solution, but having done programming for libraries, over many years, I do not know of any off the shelf ones you can buy.  They almost ALL buy large packages that are expensive, or on subscription (even more costly), but they tie all libraries in the county together, for inter-library loan and so forth.  There is no cheap canned package I know of.
Just a quick update - I found a solution! 95% out of the box, and set to integrate with my AMS. www.higherlogic.com and their elibrary system. Thank you for trying!

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