Wednesday, 25 February 2009

A Repository is not a Bookshelf!

JISC Start Up & Enhancement Projects Training Event: Embedding Respositories, University of Lincoln, 10th February 2009

I attended this informative and stimulating event at Lincoln University on 10th February. The programme of presentations over the course of the day offered both practical strategies and food for thought as to how the embedding of repositories in our various institutions might be achieved. A brief account follows …….

Julian Beckton’s presentation of the Lincoln Repository of Learning Materials (LIROLEM), highlighted the importance of ease of use, specifically through appropriate key wording/tagging of records. He acknowledged the necessity of persuading academic colleagues of the benefits and value of repositories by means, for example, of departmental ‘champions’. Institutions also needed to ensure that they maintained a high profile for their repositories.

UKOLN’s Stephanie Taylor spoke about the need formally to establish repositories both within mainstream scholarly communication and institutional policies.

Sally Rumsey, Project Manager of the Oxford University Research Archive, also highlighted the importance of the visibility and accessibility of repositories, advocacy to ensure their use in the first place and good statistics gathering as to how they are being used thereafter.

Lucy Keating, E-repositories Project Officer at the University of Newcastle, led an enthusiastic and inspirational afternoon session. She advocated a single access point for all research-related information, such as the My Impact Research Information Service currently being developed at Newcastle. She also emphasised the importance of forming links with the Research Excellence Framework, highlighting the institutional value of repositories and persuading academics that their research outputs are of much greater use in a repository than on their PCs! We learned of a ‘carrot’ at one institution whereby the annual research report is generated by its repository; if one’s research is not in it, it is, quite simply, not reported!

SHERPA’s European Development Officer, Mary Robinson, looked at the IR on the international stage and we learned that there are currently 1330 repositories in 1013 countries, most of which are in Europe. She introduced us to the DRIVER Project which aims to facilitate and support worldwide repository development. While Mary echoed the earlier themes of strong advocacy and visibility, she also drew our attention to SHERPA’s guide on how not to do it!

The key messages I took away from this event and mulled over at the end of the day on the long journey North were the importance of embedding repositories within scholarly communication, the need to ensure institutional support in making them part of everyday academic practice, the requirement for strong advocacy in demonstrating their benefits and maintaining their visibility and, absolutely essential, making them easy to discover and use. In this last respect a strong image which I took from the day was that contained in Lucy’s statement that “a repository is not a bookshelf!”

Anne Donnelly
DataShare Project Officer


Anonymous said...

Hello Anne. I'm intrigued by your title/closing quote - what do you see as the particular significance of that observation?

Anne Donnelly said...

Hi Richard. Hadn't expected to puzzle my readers! The concept just brought to mind the image of a bookshelf as a static repository. By contrast,its digital counterpart, in common with other electronic resources, offers so much more scope for configuration and access.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely. Hyper-texts on hyper-shelves in hyper-libraries for hyper-readers :)