Users of DSpace, the open source archiving tool, will receive help and support via a not-for-profit organisation set up by the creators of the tool, MIT and Hewlett-Packard.
Announced on Wednesday, the DSpace Foundation will provide support to over 200 institutions around the world that use the open-source online tool to manage their digital document archives, HP and MIT claim.
The organisations also announced that Michele Kimpton, formerly of the Internet Archive, has been appointed as director of the DSpace Foundation.
"The creation of the DSpace Foundation and Michele Kimpton's appointment are important steps in the evolution of DSpace," said Ann Wolpert, MIT director of libraries. "Together these actions signal that both the platform and the community have successfully reached the point where an independent organisation is needed to direct the project."
DSpace was developed back in 2002 after MIT concluded that it needed a robust software platform to store its collections and research data, which had previously existed only in hard-copy format.
DSpace is essentially a centralised, electronic repository for the massive amounts of intellectual property created by research institutions. The heart of DSpace is an open-source storage and retrieval system, according to MIT.
The importance of open-source approaches to digital archives was highlighted earlier this month when the UK's National Archives released a joint press release with Microsoft, hinting that it intended to migrate some of its documents to the software maker's Open XML format.
Open-source advocates claim the Microsoft-championed format is not as open as it should be and doesn't compare well to rival formats, such as the community-developed OpenDocument Format (ODF).
"If it were, Microsoft wouldn't need to make Novell and Xandros and Linspire sign NDAs [non-disclosure agreements] and then write translators for them," Pamela Jones, an open-source expert and editor of the Groklaw blog, wrote recently.
But the National Archives claims that it is not wedded to any particular data format and that all technology options are being considered at this time. "For people involved in the debate, it can be a very emotive issue, particularly the opponents of the Microsoft approach. We are neutral -- we welcome open-source software because it makes our lives easier," said David Thomas, chief information officer of the National Archives.
Andrew Donoghue reported for ZDNet UK from London