The Association of Research Libraries periodically has a SPEC Kit created to address best practices in a specific area for libraries. In 2006, Charles W. Bailey, Jr. chaired a group that created a SPEC Kit on "Institutional Repositories." The table of contents and executive summary (9 pages) are available for free, along with information from other SPEC Kits (here).
Institutional repositories "collect and provide access to diverse, locally produced digital materials." For the purpose of the SPEC Kit, "an IR was simply defined as a permanent, institution-wide repository of diverse, locally produced digital works that is available for public use and supports metadata harvesting." The last two point -- public use and metadata harvesting -- mean that the content is open for many to see and use.
In my mind, an institutional repository is a type of knowledge management system, even through the definitions for both are somewhat different. Many people scratch their heads when confronted with these different "content" management systems. How are they different? How are they the same? Will we, at some point, just have systems for managing content without worrying about if it is a IR, KM, CMS or...? I hope so! For now, though, the differences do matter. However, no matter what system your working with, the executive summary for "Institutional Repositories" undoubtedly contains information that would be useful to you. It is well-written and concise.
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