OR2014 Repository Rant accepted (and a call to the community)

This year, Open Repositories 2014 is trying something new with a series of short 24/7 repository rants, to be delivered on Wednesday, 11th of June and one those rants will be mine, entitled:

“The Invisible Institutional Repository: Missing a Trick (and Missing Fulltext)?”

The title (and the rant) seemed like a good idea at the time and I have been both pro (and anti) the “invisible repository” but the challenge is to do the pitch justice in a mere seven minutes:

This repository rant focuses on the challenge of making the institutional repository a valuable (and visible) service for academic colleagues – and ensuring it fulfills its full potential. It considers repository branding, “look and feel”, the need to add value and the challenge of ongoing repository engagement. It then looks to services like Mendeley and ResearchGate to ask if we are missing a trick (and lessons we could learn) from them. It will not provide specific solutions but rather is intended as a think piece in the spirit of this track which will “challenge the conventional wisdom or practice, and highlight what the repository community is doing that is misguided, or perhaps just missing altogether.

More explicitly the presentation is intended to:

  • challenge the value and use of the word repository [at least for end users – what is a repository anyway and really, do our academic colleagues care what it is called?]
  • explore if being invisible matters, are there advantages to being invisible?
  • ..or, if you can be seen, how does your repository present itself – like Amazon, like a Library Catalogue, something altogether institutional, or indeed like a repository
  • ask how we can close the gap between fulltext and just a metadata stub (if we collect both)
  • consider if an institutional repository is just another bit of central IT like the HR system or does it have unique/engaging properties which we should take advantage
  • consider how best we can help our academics feel ‘ownership’ of their material in the repository
  • support the shifting Open Access landscape [and its attendant issues]
  • ask how we can deliver more value [from ‘ego’ e-mail updates about downloads, deposits, tweets, views etc to new services]

My clarion cry to the community

As if that wasn’t enough (while also looking at services like Mendeley and ResearchGate), in my brief time of 24 slides and 7 minutes, I would like to include anecdotes (attributable or not) beyond the University of Glasgow which can support and fuel this proposed rant. My call to the community is to ask for your tales and your experiences. Do any of those questions resonate? Is it enough that we have ‘repositories’ usually in the ‘look and feel’ of our default software so we can readily identify a DSpace one, or an EPrints one, or a.n.other one?

I would be really interested to receive any comments or thoughts from colleagues on the challenges in ensuring that our repositories don’t just languish empty but really do realise their potential and make a difference in scholarly communication and the toll-free dissemination of research.