Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Discussion of IRs at Charleston

The Library Journal Academic Newswire for November 15 includes some notes on the Charleston Conference 2007 (Charleston, November 7-10, 2007).  Excerpt:

...Institutional repositories (IRs) were also a prominent, if puzzling topic for many. While repositories may offer significant potential for libraries and their institutions to distribute and curate scholarly output, faculty remain either unaware or confused about the role of IRs in the scholarly communication process. So far, panelists said, the mission of the IR remains poorly defined: are they meant to be an alternative publication model? Are they serving a purpose not served elsewhere; are they necessary, useful, sustainable? Should IRs hold finished papers, chapters, or pre-prints and datasets? Copyright issues regarding finished works also confuse faculty as to what they can deposit.

On a functional level, some IRs are having trouble getting off the ground. For example: despite significant education and outreach on scholarly communication issues for faculty at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), including seminars and lectures, and the strong backing of the administration, the IR at UNCG holds just three items, noted UNCG librarian Stephen Dew. That's three more items than some IR's noted another librarian. Georgia Tech's Julie Speer and Georgia State University's Sara Fuchs offered hope, however. Although Speer and Fuchs conceded the "if you build it they will come" model hasn't worked well for IRs, they've made steady progress at their institutions. The key, they noted, is to continue to reach out to faculty, like a PR campaign, one by one if necessary, to better define the mission in terms they can understand.

"Talking to librarians is preaching to the choir," Fuchs said. The action, she pressed, is outside the library. When talking to faculty about IRs, she suggested avoiding words like "crisis, mandate, budgets, pre-print." Instead, she argued, push things like "better access" and "more citations." ...