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About the greenstone software
Greenstone Digital Library Software

Greenstone is a suite of software which has the ability to serve digital library collections and build new collections. It provides a new way of organizing information and publishing it on the Internet or on CD-ROM. Greenstone is produced by the New Zealand Digital Library Project at the University of Waikato, and distributed in cooperation with UNESCO and the Human Info NGO. It is open-source software, available from http://greenstone.org under the terms of the GNU General Public License.


The New Zealand Digital Library website (http://nzdl.org) contains numerous example collections, all created with the Greenstone software, which are publicly available for you to peruse. They exemplify various searching and browsing options, and include collections in Arabic, Chinese, French, Maori, and Spanish, as well as English. There are also some music collections.


Greenstone runs on Windows and Unix. The distribution includes ready-to-use binaries for all versions of Windows, and for Linux. It also includes complete source code for the system, which can be compiled using Microsoft C++ or gcc. Greenstone works with associated software that is also freely available: the Apache Webserver and PERL. The user interface uses a Web browser: typically Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer.


Greenstone is specifically designed to be highly extensible and customisable. New document and metadata formats are accommodated by writing "plugins" (in Perl). Analogously, new metadata browsing structures can be implemented by writing "classifiers." The user interface look-and-feel can be altered using "macros" written in a simple macro language. A Corba protocol allows agents (e.g. in Java) to use all the facilities associated with document collections. Finally, the source code, in C++ and Perl, is available and accessible for modification.


There are three documents that explain the Greenstone system:

  • The Greenstone Digital Library Software Installer's Guide

  • The Greenstone Digital Library Software User's Guide

  • The Greenstone Digital Library Software Developer's Guide

mailing list

There is a mailing list intended primarily for discussions about the Greenstone digital library software. Active users of Greenstone should consider joining the mailing list and contributing to the discussions. The mailing list is hosted by the Pathfinder Library System in beautiful Grand Junction, Colorado (John Campbell, john@colosys.net). To subscribe, send email to majordomo@colosys.net with the text

subscribe greenstone

(no subject, no name, nothing else). To send a message to the list, address it to greenstone@colosys.net.


We want to ensure that this software works well for you. Please report any bugs to greenstone@cs.waikato.ac.nz


The Greenstone software is a collaborative effort between many people. Rodger McNab and Stefan Boddie are the principal architects and implementors. Contributions have been made by David Bainbridge, George Buchanan, Hong Chen, Elke Duncker, Carl Gutwin, Geoff Holmes, John McPherson, Craig Nevill-Manning, Gordon Paynter, Bernhard Pfahringer, Todd Reed, Bill Rogers, and Stuart Yeates. Other members of the New Zealand Digital Library project provided advice and inspiration in the design of the system: Mark Apperley, Sally Jo Cunningham, Steve Jones, Te Taka Keegan, Michel Loots, Malika Mahoui and Lloyd Smith. We would also like to acknowledge all those who have contributed to the GNU-licensed packages included in this distribution: MG, GDBM, PDFTOHTML, WGET, WVWARE and XLHTML.

Kia papapounamu te moana

kia hora te marino,
kia tere te karohirohi,
kia papapounamu te moana

may peace and calmness surround you,
may you reside in the warmth of a summer's haze,
may the ocean of your travels be as smooth as the polished greenstone.

Greenstone Digital Library Software

Greenstone is a semi-precious stone that (like this software) is sourced in New Zealand. In traditional Maori society it was the most highly prized and sought after of all substances. It can absorb and hold wairua, which is a spirit or life force, and is endowed with traditional virtues that make it an appropriate emblem for a public-domain digital library project. Its lustre shows charity; its translucence, honesty; its toughness, courage; and the sharp edge it can take, justice. The carved piece used in the Greenstone Digital Library Software logo is a patu or fighting club, and is a family heirloom of one of our project members. In hand-to-hand combat its delivery is very quick, very accurate, and very complete. We like to think these qualities also apply to our software, the razor sharp edge of the patu symbolizing the leading edge of technology.

New Zealand Digital Library Project
Department of Computer Science, University of Waikato, New Zealand

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