Starting, Strengthening, and Managing Institutional Repositories

Ross MacDonald (Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Doha, State of Qatar)

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 9 August 2011



MacDonald, R. (2011), "Starting, Strengthening, and Managing Institutional Repositories", The Electronic Library, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 553-554.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This book provides an enlightening and practical introduction to establishing, maintaining, and growing institutional repositories (IRs). Author Jonathan Nabe, begins by telling us what IRs are, and their role in managing, preserving, and promoting the intellectual output of an institution (focusing realistically on academic settings). He notes that changes in scholarly communication are inevitably changing the role of librarians, and argues convincingly that librarians – with their faculty liaison roles, and their own research activities, copyright knowledge, information management (and marketing) skills – are ideally placed to play a leading role when the decision to establish an IR is made.

Individual chapters address various issues that the IR manager can expect to encounter. Planning, budgeting, and staffing are discussed, and, sticking to his theme, Nabe suggests – perhaps optimistically – that liaison librarians possess many of the personal attributes (boldness, knowledge, persuasiveness, persistence, and flexibility) required when developing an IR. Next, criteria for evaluating repository platforms are introduced, and then systematically applied to all of the most popular existing platforms. While stressing that each institution needs to do its own evaluation, this section provides a marvelous reference point for beginners. IR policies regarding the submission process content, versioning, use of content, and legal agreements are also examined. Getting buy‐in from faculty and other institutional stakeholders receives scrutiny, with advice on the message needed to “sell” the IR, and how to get it across. The chapter on collection development and expansion sensibly advises that IR managers begin with the easy‐to‐get content, as nothing looks worse than an empty repository, then addresses mundane issues such as copyright and work flows. Finally, measures for increasing and assessing the use of an IR are considered, including interoperability (OAI‐PMH compatibility is usually vital), the use of metadata, and even how to increase an IR's Google ranking (have an easily indexed site map and keep adding more content).

Nabe has been involved in establishing and coordinating several IRs, experience that shows throughout the book. In particular, there are many short boxed comments in the margins – the right Web site for further information, or advising that there is probably no need to distinguish between temporary and permanent faculty – that answer questions that might occur to the reader immediately, or after getting well into a project. However, the second half features contributions from eleven librarians and administrators who have also earned their IR stripes. The five chapters in this section detail the IR experience in various institutions, often emphasizing one or more of the topics introduced by Nabe: so we read about first implementing an IR at Macalester College, policies at the University of New Mexico, and the lessons learned as the role of an IR became more service‐oriented at the University of Illinois.

If there is a major weakness to this book, it is that it will date quickly: already some of the comments concerning the popularity of IR platforms are out‐of‐date. However, as the number of IRs increases, there will certainly be a place for future editions of this book.

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