Monday, December 10, 2007

Notes from Trends in eRepositories presentation

My presentation at E-Info Global Symposium was entitled "Trends in eRepositories."

Over the years, our institutions have built large hardcopy repositories for the items they felt were important. Today we are engaged in building digital repositories to house a broad range of materials. In order for these repositories to be good stewards of the information they contain, we must focus on management, infrastructure and community support. We also must be aware of the trends that are occurring, since these repositories are still in their infancy.
The note attached to the first slide provides a list of resources that may be useful to you.

Photo by Helen Black in FlickrOver the years, our institutions have built large repositories for the items they felt were important. Those archives generally look like this. We hope that they also provide adequate access, but access has often meant digging through boxes for useful nuggets; something that everyone will not do.

We also must wonder if some repositories are like the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, where materials enter, but then are lost forever.

Photo by Stan Wiechers in FlickrNow the repositories we are building are digital. These can be right sources of:
  • Information
  • Data
  • Images
  • Research
  • Published & unpublished materials
  • Background information
  • Cultural materials
  • Items that document our institutions
They contain materials that were born digital as well as digitized. They may contain complex objects. And they may contain pointers to non-digital assets.

In Feb. 2003, Clifford Lynch used these words to describe an eRepository:
…a set of services…for the management and dissemination of digital materials created by the institution and its community members. It is most essentially an organizational commitment to the stewardship of these digital materials, including long-term preservation where appropriate, as well as organization and access or distribution.
Based on his words and the experiences I've witnessed, I focused the remainder of my talk on three areas:
  • Management
  • Infrastructure
  • Community Support
The rest of the presentation should make sense to you, except for one slide:

Photo by Roger Cullman in FlickrYes, this is a fork in the road. As Yogi Berra said:
"When you come to a fork in the road....Take it"
Although many digital repositories are focusing on a broad range of materials, some are only focusing on scholarly publications and building repositories that provide open access to those publications. The open access movement hopes that scholarly publications will be made available either through open access repositories (the Green Road) or by being published in open access journals (the Gold Road). [A benefit would be if a publication was made available both ways.] Unlike the photo, the Green and Gold Roads are not a fork in the road. {That spiel likely worked better in the live version.} [12/12/2007 -- well...I guess the text would make more sense without the typo! Fork in the road, not folk!]

During my presentation, I mentioned that it is important for faculty members to see a real benefit in submitting materials to the repository. After my presentation, Scott Nicholson mentioned that faculty need to produce a body of evidence, when they come up for tenure and promotion, that shows the impact of their work. He said:
If the library is involved with the repository, they could produce for each faculty member, a summary of how many times their work was accessed over a period of time, and a list of places that link to their works. That's something we can't get from a journal article nearly as easily.
Afterwards, I received a number of positive comments including a person who said (basically) that she understands now what her colleagues do when they digitize and build repositories. eRepositories are important undertakings and it was good to give the group a better appreciation of them.

All photos were used with permission or through a Creative Commons license.

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