Friday, June 06, 2008

Institutional Repositories (NASIG 2008)

The title of the session I attended this morning was "Institutional Repositories: Strategies for the Present and Future" and it included presentations by three people; one publisher and two librarians from academic libraries that have implemented institutional repositories. I was interested in this session for two reasons. First because TAMU-CC has joined the Texas Digital Library and second because I'm taking a course this summer in globalization and I think that institutional repositories are an example of the globalization of information.

Connie Foster, Western Kentucky University

The purpose of IRs is the organization and dissemination of scholarly work (Clifford Lynch); to make publically available the efforts and products of grant funded research; showcase the efforts of faculty (in the case of an IHE). Connie shared the statement of purpose for the IR at Western Kentucky University: “a digital repository, dedicated to scholarly research, creative activity, and other full-text learning resources that merit enduring and archival value and permanent access within a centralized database that supports, reflects, and showcases the intellectual life of the University through easy searching and retrieval, and universal access and indexing.”

She then presented some suggested practicalities and strategies for the implementation of an IR. She included a handout that WKU has created to market their IR:

Jean-Gabriel Bankier, Berkeley Electronic Press

IRs struggle for content because faculty lack the incentive to deposit their creative work in IRs (the value of the content is for the reader rather than the faculty), because they focus more on policy and technology rather than on obtaining content, and because their content scope is too narrow. Successful IRs focus on providing services to scholars that provide them incentive to make deposits (e.g. publishing services, signals of quality, proof that their work will be accessed through the IR), on providing faculty with “one-on-one attention” (evangelism), and on widening the scope of the content in the IR (e.g. books, journals, newsletters, conference, dissertations, theses, undergraduate work, speeches, lectures, presentations, etc….I would add other formats like visual art, audio, and video as well as courses).

He feels that IRs might reform scholarly communication by stimulating innovation in scholarly work by providing an additional outlet for scholarly work, by driving intra and inter institutional / disciplinary collaboration, teaching students about academic research and journal publishing, collecting and disseminating dissertations, supporting the creation of new academic journals, offering a new publishing model.

Glen Wiley, Cornell University

Talked the IRs at Cornell University. His focus was similar to Connie’s and JG’s, it included focusing on providing faculty with incentive to deposit their works (through the name/appearance of the repository and structuring the content for the user), recruiting from a variety of sources for content (including other (less accessible) repositories, conferences, faculty work linked from course management systems, and multimedia possibilities), innovative ideas for selection of materials to include in the archive, assessment by number of hits on and downloads from their web site. He finished up by talking about sustainability (from the practical standpoint of available funding, staff time investment, etc.).

This session (all three presentations) was useful for thinking about my globalization course and for thinking about the TDL implementation. Wiley wrote an article about how they failed at first which you probably ought to look for.

What I’m getting from the presentations in this session is that the general purpose of IRs is not only to collect the results of intellectual activity but to make them easily and freely available to the world…to promote scholarly communication.

IRs as a means for an IHE to influence the system of scholarly communication (Bankier 2007)
- promoter of free dissemination of scholarly work
- platform for OA journals (Foster’s story about being approached by a faculty/student group about starting up a freely available journal that resulted in an OA journal hosted on their university’s IR)
- that would make interoperability really important, not only between the IR and the opac but also between the IR and search engines like Google
- what other ways could an IHE do that? WHY would IHEs want to do that?

The presenters focused on assessment via usage statistics (# of downloads, etc.) and as an indicator of institutional quality. Has anyone tried to measure the influence of IR’s on scholarly communication? Or what affect (if any) IRs have on P&T or scholar recognition? Might those criteria be additional measures of success (which the presenters today are focused on to a certain extent)?

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