Tuesday, July 17, 2007

DSpace cash injection

The Chronicle of Higher Ed picked up a story about the DSpace project getting an extra injection of funds from MIT and Hewlett Packard. I thought it was interesting how they portrayed the DSpace project, and institutional repositories generally, as a struggling endeavor:
But while hundreds of institutions have installed the software, many are still struggling to get faculty members to fill their databases with material. Academic librarians say many scholars justifiably worry that publishers will reject their work if it has been in an open archive. Others prefer promoting their research through personal Web sites, even though those venues are less secure than archives.
The article, notably, doesn't mention DSpace's main rival, Fedora.

Indeed the institutional repository isn't something that seems to have gained rapid momentum anywhere. The article states that even MIT is struggling to fill their repository.

I think that there's a notion out there that now that we can save and curate things like pre-prints, white papers, teaching materials, video versions of presentations, etc. we should. But if we didn't save these things before, why should we now? Resources are scarce, time is scarce.

Perhaps libraries should be looking at cruder methods of archiving electronic content that don't require labor intensive submission processes--crawling institutional web sites, for example, and archiving the results.

I've noticed a trend of sort of "self archiving" web content at our institution. For example, our symposia at the College on tend to archive past programs simply by leaving them in accessible folders on our web server. I'm sure any digital preservationist could list many perils of doing this. But can I really convince someone that it's worth the time to re-organize those files and stick them in an institutional repository, where they'll probably be harder to access?

As we consider an IR at our institution, these are the questions I ponder.

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