Coming of Age: Strategic Directions for Digital Repositories


David Nicholas

This presentation reported on a project on digital repositories undertaken by David Nicholas and Ian Rowlands from CIBER Research as part of the Charleston Observatory program.  Repositories are about 10 years old now; this study was to understand what library directors and researchers see as the goals of digital repositories; to identify the critical success factors behind repositories, and to assess their wider impact.


Ian Rowlands

Ian Rowlands reported on a survey of 153 library directors of 2,126 Open/DOAR repositories.  73% of the responding libraries have a repository; 21% are in the planning stage; and 6% have no plans for a repository.  Most libraries fund their repositories out of general library budgets, and most repositories are maintained by only 1 or 2 staff members.

Although nearly 80% of the repositories contain journal articles and conference papers, there is a huge variety of types of materials in them.  The libraries offer services to help their users to help them deposit their material, create metadata, and obtain copyright clearance.  When asked the main advantages of maintaining a repository, many services were mentioned, among which were long term preservation, access to “grey literature”, and better services to students and researchers.  Several libraries mentioned that repositories are helping to change the library culture.  Disadvantages of repositories included  confusion from different versions of the same material access fragmentation, and generally adding complexity to the information landscape.  One respondent said that sloppy repositories are harmful because they lower the standard for scholarly communication.

Library directors regard repositories as good vehicles to make the literature more openly available, preserve and curate information, and as first steps toward becoming a digital publisher.  Repositories are no longer only about open access; they have become a valuable part of a large system that includes publishers, societies, etc.

Important issues include promotion of the repository, and motivating people to not only access its material but also to contribute material.  The majority of survey respondents felt that the importance of repositories will increase in the future.

A complete set of slides describing the survey and its results is available on the Ciber Research website.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor


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