Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Potential Uses

Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Potential Uses

Article excerpt

Once you have decided that your organization needs an IR and you have the necessary institutional support and commitment from the right mix of people, you still have many questions to work through before deciding on an actual IR system.

You can equate this exercise with the tremendous amount of research and preparatory work that goes into preparing an RFP (request for proposal). The more informed you are about how your organization will go about using its institutional repository, the better the decisions you will make as to which IR system to use and the organizational structure needed to sustain it.

As discussed above, the suite of services that an IR offers should and must be determined by the unique needs of the institution. As a result, no boilerplate RFP exists that will work for every organization. Each organization must attempt to answer the following questions on its own.

How will the IR be used?

Although predetermining all possible uses of the IR is not necessary, having some idea of how the repository is going to be used is crucial. This knowledge may not only narrow the field of potential systems, but it also could bring to light some potential allies and early supporters in your organization.

You can explore the question of how an IR might be used in several ways. The best method depends on the size and culture of an institution and may be a combination of methods.

If the members of an organization are already familiar with the concept of an IR, then a survey might be the best assessment tool. The survey should inquire about potential existing collections that could be migrated into the IR. Then follow up to gather specific details about those collections to ensure you fully understand their scope and requirements.

For instance, if a potential collection is of datasets for publicly funded grants, then knowing the datasets' size and format types is useful. For what length of time do the datasets need to be made available? Will all the datasets share the same level of access or is there a need for different access levels (such as worldwide, institution, or research lab)? Are there alternative repositories already available?

The focus of another survey should be about the types and scope of individual, collection-less documents. This focus is especially important since many people may not think of their independent documents as being potential candidates for an IR collection.

Through the survey you may discover that your community members have many conference papers, for example, that could be brought together into a single institution-wide collection. Only through the macro-level view provided by the survey would you see the potential for institution-wide collections.

If the organization is unfamiliar with the concept of institutional repositories, then a survey about potential collections and documents would not be helpful, since people would likely not be cognizant of what might constitute appropriate material.

Instead, gather information about the organization's receptiveness to the technology and practice. The survey could include questions about current use of e-print repositories, such as arXiv for physics papers and RePec for research papers in economics.

Other questions to ask include:

* Where do people currently store their digital documents?

* How often do they e-mail or mail documents to colleagues within your organization? At other institutions?

* Do they maintain work-related homepages? If so, what types of materials are there?

* Ask them to rate their level of confidence that their unpublished gray literature will be retrievable in five years? In 10 years?

If all parts of your organization are well-represented, the survey should be able to reveal if and where a need for an institutional repository exists.

In small organizations, surveys can be replaced by one-to-one or one-to-few conversations. …

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