Friday, February 02, 2007

A comment on institutional repositories

The following is a comment that I posted today on Free Range Librarian's post on DSpace and Open Source software. Karen's post has spawned a comment thread that had developed into a conversation on the culture of software developers. But I wanted to talk about the whole notion of institutional repositories themselves...


Let's just say that I have reservations about institutional repositories. One reason I have misgivings is due to the fact that institutional repositories have to be *explained* to users why they should be used. No faculty member stumbles upon one and cries Eureka! Furthermore, the benefit of depositing articles belongs to the institution and the "cost" of depositing the article belongs to the researcher.

I read this summary of a DSpace User Group session at Library Web Chic and was most interested in this faculty feedback:
* Access to literature is a non-issue for faculty
* Using alternatives to institutional repositories
* Have their own websites and like using them better
* Subject based repositories (preferred over IR if available)

We also know from other research that more than 70 percent of faculty said they maintain their own collections.

If I'm not mistaken, one of the the promises of open source institutional repositories is that it would allow all the repositories to be searched through some sort of federated search.

So why don't we develop "good" *personal* digital collection software that can be *searched* as an institution? Maybe this time, we would learn from our mistakes and build the interface first.

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