Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Spread of institutional repositories in developing countries

Susan Veldsman, eIFL Institutional Repositories Setting the Platform for International Co-Operation, EPT blog, November 17, 2007.  Excerpt:

First from Barbara Kirsop's prefatory note:

The Open Society Institute-supported eIFL network has helped in the establishment of nearly one hundred OA Institutional Repositories in developing and emerging countries and is moving towards linking up with the EU DRIVER project! ...

Now from Veldsman:

Over the last year electronic Information For Libraries (eIFL) has been working hard to create a database and record all aspects of Institutional Repositories that have been developed in all our member countries. After a lot of correspondence and updating with countries, we can now report that 17 member eIFL countries currently have:

- 27 repositories in progress
- 69 active repositories,
- Total of 96 institutional repositories

This gave us the opportunity to look for international co-operation with other projects. Being so closely associated with SURF, the Netherlands, eIFL were quite aware of the DRIVER project and its follow up DRIVER II sister project....One of the objectives of DRIVER is to organize and build a virtual, European scale network (portal) of existing institutional repositories from the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Belgium.

eIFL saw the challenge and decided to piggy back on the expertise and technology infrastructure that the SURF/DRIVER project already had in place. Talks began with all parties involved and during June/July 2007 a similar portal (network) was created and can currently be viewed [here]....

This is only the beginning of a long journey. eIFL's ultimate goal is to develop these repositories to reach an international standard. This will be done by training e.g metadata, other standards, linking, setting up repositories, etc....

This is not the only activity we are envisaging, we are also busy to "mass register" eIFL repositories in IR registers and harvesters (OAIster and OpenDOAR) We are also looking at additional training that could be given to countries to "move" their repositories from an inactive to active status, as well as to start up new repositories.

Comment.  Kudos to eIFL for organizing this important development.  Institutional repositories are an affordable, effective way to provide worldwide open access to the research output of an institution.  They are a natural solution any research institution, even the most affluent, but are an urgent solution where money is tight and conventional forms of research visibility are low.  Unlike HINARI and related initiatives, which make some research from the North visible in the South, OA (through repositories or journals) is a two-way street and can make research from the South visible in the North.