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JISC-REPOSITORIES  January 2006

JISC-REPOSITORIES January 2006

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Subject:

Re: Institutional Repositories: The bottom line is money

From:

Melanie Bates <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Melanie Bates <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 18 Jan 2006 09:21:30 +0000

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The Learning Technology world discovers the Digital Library world and  
it makes an enormous discovery.  That the librarians are storing,  
cataloguing and managing research content in one place using FREE  
software.  Not only is this software FREE but it is being adopted by  
almost simultaneously by many Institutions in the UK and around the  
world - hey even Google are doing it, ... it must be the next big  
thing!  And so the 'Institutional Repository' is born.

Hence, the Learning Technology world - who have been struggling to  
manage any sort of teaching and learning resource in a consistent way  
(learning objects, e-portfolios, assessment materials, plain old  
PDF's), are starting to pay attention.  Whilst trying desperately to  
battle against the huge premiums and more and more corporate level  
software of the dark-side (Commercial VLE's), some learning and  
teaching people who 'dabble' in technology are starting hear Chinese  
Whispers about this thing called an 'Institutional Repository'.
"What's this then, ... a place to upload digital resources that can  
be accessed by anyone, .. and it's FREE!!  Yes, we'll have one of  
those!!".

And so, the adoption of the term "repository" by the teaching and  
learning community (and of course strategically it  has to be  
"institutional" - this lessens the risk of having no users!).  So of  
course, expectations of an Institutional Repository and it's purpose  
is different for every member of this list and every  member of staff  
within the institution that has one.  If you don't understand the  
technology or the terminology of the underlying architecture, or how  
the term 'Institutional Repository' came about - then of course you  
will use the new 'buzz' terminology in conversations.  What used to  
called a 'content management system' is now a 'repository', ...  
they're just new technology buzz words for people who don't  
understand the technology.

For me the true definition, and the only distinction, of an  
Institutional Repository compared to a content management system for  
teaching and learning are the 'customers'.  An IR is the 'shop front'  
for an Institution's digital assets.  It's the stuff that it wants to  
show off to the outside world, mainly academic colleagues.  It's the  
stuff that's worth preserving too - so it has some importance above  
the day-to-day outputs of an institution.  Compared to this are the  
customers of the teaching and learning resources.  These are the  
'students' and this content is constantly being updated or changed  
(well, in an ideal world).  Usually, this is the content that the  
academics themselves don't want to go beyond the Institutions virtual  
walls too!

So, the checklist for content in an IR should be:
- Is it of value to the Institution?
- Is it worth preserving?
- Do we want to be recognised for this content?

If the answer is not 'YES' to these - then it's not appropriate to  
put in an IR!

--
Melanie Bates
Learning Technology Co-ordinator
engCETL
http://engcetl.lboro.ac.uk
Loughborough University

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