Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, June 27, 2008

Intro to repositories

John Mark Ockerbloom, Repositories: What they are, and what we use them for, Everybody’s Libraries, June 26, 2008.

The JISC Repositories Support Project defines a digital repository as “a mechanism for managing and storing digital content.” I find this a useful definition, both for what it says and what it doesn’t say. It notes that repositories, as such, focus on content and its management. It doesn’t say anything about the kind of digital content managed by the repository, or about the use this content is put to.

A repository’s focus is related to, but distinct from, the focus of a library or an application. ...

At the same time, though, you can’t plan the development of a library without thinking about its repositories. Repositories really are essential infrastructure for libraries, but not simply as a place to “capture and preserve the intellectual output of university communities” (as a 2002 SPARC white paper put it), or, more pessimistically, as “a place where you dump stuff and then nothing happens to it” (as a 2005 JISC workshop annex put it). The Penn Libraries today rely on hundreds of digital repositories, mostly run by various publishers. We also manage a few important ones ourselves. ...

As you can see from these examples, libraries like ours have all kinds of different uses for repositories, and various ways we can develop and manage them. We’re not starting repositories because they’re what all the cool Research I libraries are doing this year. We’re managing them because they help us provide what we see as important services to our communities. ...)