Why Repositories Struggle
Jenica P. Rogers-Urbanek
College Libraries, SUNY Potsdam
June 15, 2007
Library implementations of repositories aren't easy!
In fact, they're kind of doomed, if you think about it...
- Almost always an add-on job.
- Time and resources needed to sustain the project almost always underestimated.
- Sometimes seen as being duplicative resources and projects.
- Often a project linked to one person, not a whole department.
- Maintenance is often overlooked.
- Long-term planning is sometimes missing.
- Campus buy-in is hard, hard work.
Repositories implemented by libraries often struggle because we don't know how to talk about them effectively.
What we see:
- Online archiving of local publications
- New publishing models that could reduce costs for libraries
- Searchability and findability for gray literature
- Exciting possibilities for digital scholarship and creativity
What faculty may see:
- Lots of jargon
- Concepts they've never considered before
- Concepts that are hostile to the way they understand publishing and scholarship to work
- A steep learning curve
- Little utility in daily work
- "One more thing to do"
Approaches to consider:
- Focus on what a repository can do for the institution, for students, or for faculty members. Avoid focusing on why libraries think repositories are great.
- Offer targeted hands-on workshops in how to use other successful repositories, to engage faculty and generate "I want one, too" feedback.
- Be grassroots in your recruitment -- Link your sales pitch to the work done by individuals, not departments or schools.
- Find projects on campus that may be struggling to find digitization resources or solutions, and offer a hand.
- Work to win the support of administrators who can influence individual faculty.
- Use your library's own collections and publications to seed your IR, and then use that as a marketing tool.
- Follow through, and be persistent.
- Don't be turned off by failure -- just find a new approach, and try again.
Listen to the experts
Dorothea Salo, Digital Repository Librarian at the University of Wisconsin, author of the blog Caveat Lector, "Throw your own spaghetti."
"Sometimes they're asking "How can I make faculty deposit?" Same answer: you can't. You don't control faculty behavior. That leaves you some choices: you can lobby the people who do control faculty behavior, you can dangle carrots in front of faculty, you can take it out of faculty hands, you can build on what faculty are already doing, or you can hope for serendipity."
"What all this grumpiness amounts to is, I am still throwing spaghetti at the wall like a mad thing. I don't know and can't tell you which strands will stick where you are. If you want to do this, throw your own spaghetti, and then let's get together and talk about what stuck."
To talk about what you've thrown, and what's stuck, check out the IR Managers website, which has a mailing list, a forum, and generally strives to connect you to people who have the same problems you do, and maybe some answers.