Professional Development

In the '2008 SPARC Digital Repositories' Category...

SPARC wrap-up

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 4:44 am

For me, this conference touched some big ideas including the implications of complex objects and data sets, the need to redefine what ‘publishing’ and information access means, and how to, on a large scale basis, create and deploy systems to enable collection, collaboration, and dissemination of these resources. It was interesting to attend a conference that, while being focused on very specific issues (Institutional Repositories and Open Access), naturally found itself examining these large ideas. The theme of Open Access seems to be the battle cry of the participants – I heard the concept “information wants to be free” in many different forms over the few days.

It was also interesting to note that, while the presenters talked about large scale projects, the conversations I had with people often centered on more basic issues (how to run an IR, how to get buy-in, how to negotiate support with organizational IT). Still – there was an enthusiasm in the discussions that signaled to me how important this area of librarianship will be in the coming years. It was also encouraging to see the a community committed to finding answers to these very large questions within the philosophical context of open source and open access.

Open Access

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 4:28 am

Day 2 of SPARC began with a discussion of Open Access polices. Presenters included representatives from Europe, Japan, and the US and in all 3 cases demonstrated that this is still a developing area. In conversations with attendees I have heard two themes emerge relating to OA – first, that OA is a tangential concept to institutional repositories that can often cloud the issue if you are trying to build faculty and institutional interest in a repository and second, that OA requires support at the institutional, governmental, funding agency, and faculty body level in order to be successful.

The discussion around OA was not nearly as focused as the ideas for generating interest and garnering support for IRs and it seemed that while everyone at the conference values OA that there is not yet a clear cut plan. The presentation by Bonnie Klein regarding the requirement of OA for federally supported projects demonstrated how variable these requirements are even for federally funded projects. She discussed issues of policy, priority, and infrastructure as being influential in driving OA requirements from federal agencies. Data sets were cited as being a complicating factor for OA. Few organizations/agencies have the infrastructure in place to handle the archiving and distribution of this information.

During Q&A the interest in the implications on publishing and concerns about what OA means for publishers was a recurring theme. Common concerns included the impact of a changing publishing model has on sustainability/profit and the impact on peer-review and scholarship. The lack of peer review in OA was seen as a disruptive that has implication for faculty/tenure, ongoing scholarship, and institutional support for OA publications. Oxford UP was cited as an example of a publisher working to add value to publications and to change their subscription models for publications that went OA.

Institutional Repository Services

Monday, November 17, 2008 3:02 pm

This afternoon there was a set of presentations about services that are developed and offered for Institutional Repositories. I have tried to aggregate & summarize the services below from the work of Joan Giesecke , Paul Royster, Hideki Uchijima, and Norbert Lossau:

  • Permissioning – figuring out for faculty what the access permissions on their publications are. Working with them to archive their materials in accordance with copyright and contracts
  • Hunting and Gathering – using Romeo and Sherpa websites, find archivable articles. Contact faculty and ask them if you can archive their publications. Lead with “I recently saw your article on …” :)
  • Scanning – Digitize stuff that is in print
  • Typesetting – Provide an IR specific, professional layout for articles. Ensures consistency of IR items, looks good for authors, looks good for library. Pay attention to layout, pagination, etc.
  • Metadata – Provide good description for the items archived.
  • Uplodad/Post – Take what the faculty can give you, do the heavy lifting for them.
  • Usage Reporting – Give them feedback on how much their work is being accessed – “Your article was downloaded x times…” Paul Royster reported that on a monthly basis over 75% of their open access content was downloaded at least once.
  • Promoting – post on wikipedia, online books page, worldcat, subject/discipline based websites
  • Inclusion of IR in open URL services
  • Faculty profile page – Provide automated faculty profile page including selected works, summary of research, profile, etc. This gives them visibility and allows them to forward requests for documents to a single place
  • Aggregate – More of an institutional/research service – make your repository open for harvesting, use OAI services to find like content and create a search interface to other repositories.
  • Access – Make your repository available to your institution’s Open URL resolver

Of note was the fact that the provision of these services and the growth of the IRs in the presentations resulted in a decrease in ILL requests for non-returnable items, presumably through increased access of articles online. This came from Hideki Uchijima’s presentation and it appears that the implementation of IRs in Japan has been much more widespread than it is in the US (I wonder what the NIH mandate may do for this).

There was also a presentation on a new set of IR services called DRIVER ( The DRIVER software was particularly interesting because it focused on the provision of distributed IR services through an open SOA model. The services DRIVER defines and supports are:

  • User Services – Search, Collect, Profile, Recommend
  • Collective Services – Aggregate, Index, Browser
  • Presentation Services – User Interface, OAI-PMH
  • Enabling Services – Authentication/Authorization, Manager, Information

During the disucssion, some other intersting services that came up were:

  • Transformation – providing the ability to represent and re-represent IR documents in different formats
  • Version differentiation – how/or do we need to educate our end users on the implications of what a document in an IR is versus what that same intellectual content might be in a proprietary database.

There were some interesting services that did not get mentioned – Nothing about social software (contribute, stream, tag, comment, annotate, link), nothing about preservation (except perhaps transformation), nothing about learning or instructional services.

SPARC-DR – It’s all about (meta)data and services

Monday, November 17, 2008 2:05 pm

The morning session of the SPARC DR conference were very interesting. I was thoroughly enjoying the discussion of open access and the implications that access restrictions have on data by John Wilbanks when out of the blue he started talking about the semantic web (one of my favorite topics)! Wilbanks cited several examples of how semantic web principles could be used to unify the data located in multiple IRs into a single unsearchable web of data. More information on his work can be found at .

It has been interesting to be at three conferences over the month, all of which had different but complementary discussions on the connection between open source and open access, the changing nature of popular document models, and the necessity of forming partnerships with faculty and other organizations for libraries. The top ideas that bubbled out of the morning sessions for me were:

  • Archiving and storage of documents/data, regardless of document model, but with emphasis on the value added to the participating researcher is more important than ever
  • Provision of innovative services on top of back-end institutional repositories will help grow market share. There was an interesting list of outreach marketing attempts by Shawn Martin at UPenn. He discussed reasons that they often give faculty for participating in an IR including increased page rank in Google, provision of both open and closed access repository services, and scholarly website management
  • Institutional repositories are an example of the wider discussion of data management, metadata, and service oriented architecture that is gaining momentum in the library and Information Science world. I have seen parralel discussions in the Duke OLE project and in the current popular movements in Next Generation Catalogs. Ideas of linking, interoperability, and service provision are the emerging direction of Institutional Repositories.

At lunch I had a chance to catch up with (our very own) Debbie Nolan. Among other interesting things (including an embedded liaison program at her library) we had a chance to talk with Charles Watkinson about what managing publishing and repositories in the field of Archaeology is like. One of the themes that emerged in this discussion was how to encourage the submission of undergraduate generated non-traditional content into IRs. Some examples included electronic or print newsletters/magazines, undergraduate research, student-driven open access journals, and student group websites. We could not come to consensus on what would encourage a student to submit this content or what goals students have in relation to publishing and archiving but it was an interesting idea . .

That’s it for now – this afternoon is more about value added services and innovation in IRs. . .

SPARC Digital repositories in B-more

Monday, November 17, 2008 5:36 am

After an early morning drive to the airport and an unexpected re-route to Detroit (where yes. . .it is already winter), I wound up in Baltimore MD for a two day conference on digital repositories and scholarly publishing. Since I will probably spend the rest of my time here tirelessly ‘conferencing’, I decided to take my pre-conference post time to show you a few (blurry) shots from the day:

The Detroit airport monorail

Baltimore city harbor

Baltimore Harbor

The International school of trapeze artists

Trapeze school

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