Repositories and policy – SUTEr Event at the National Library of Wales
Posted by gazjjohnson on 19 February, 2009
I was at an event in Aberwyswyth at the National Library of Wales yesterday on repository policy. This perhaps sounds like it might not be the most exciting of topics but since I’d been invited to come along and share my experiences in this regard I was happy to attend. A mammoth car drive later I was there. Aber is a very pretty town to visit, but I don’t think I’d fancy living there – it’s a bit Ultima Thule.
The best part of the day was a workshop looking at policy, splitting the delegates into groups of have and havenots in policy terms. I was in the discussion with those present whose repositories do already have policies in place. I found it interesting that whilst we all had used the OpenDOAR policy tool, each had set slightly different policy. I was especially interested during the discussions about the idea of allowing repository metadata to be reused commercially. The LRA does not allow this currently, in contrast Northampton does with a mind that the more this is exposed to commercial re-use the more likely the repository’s contents is to be found. I think this is a good point, and one that the LRA should reconsider – indeed we are indexed by SCOPUS, which is itself a commercial site – so strictly speaking we already allow this.
After lunch we had a series of mini-case studies, starting from Kultur (Andrew Gray). This is taking in every kind of material and all formats, especially multimedia. They have an advisory group with representation not just from senior management, but also research administrators. Also have associate members on the group, who are pulled in from time to time as they are needed. Next was Ann from Buckinghamshire New University/ Bucks Knowledge Archive. They have a PhD deposit mandate and are facing in particular the challenge of archiving web based resources or other not easily quantifiable outputs, e.g. computer games or furniture. She mentioned that they are considering the use of holograms to record complex data which sounds very SciFi.
Helen Standish Manchester Metropolitan University (Espace) talked next about Mandates. Their’s is a research repository and has been in existence since April 2005. They used existing library staff to man it, although currently they are using JISC funding to free up manager time from other duties. Helen mentioned that initially she contacted over 700 academics, but only a handful responded. The repo has about 30% full-text items (comparable to the current LRA) and that this level is something she is seeking to improve. The Re-Space project is finishing at the moment, and has been seeking to embed the repository more firmly within library and institutional workflows. She also talked about their Open Access Publication policy, which is technically a mandate though they have avoided the terminology due to its negative connotations. In essence their policy is to make all non-commercially funded research output freely available…through e-space. They have academic champions at a high level to represent and support the repository which works successfully; although the loss of senior staff (retirement and moving on) who were driving the process forward has stagnated the process of adoption of this policy significantly. In the last few weeks they are looking more closely at embedding the repository into workflows, including EthOS. The hope is that they will soon have a mandate for deposit in place. However, when project ends Helen will no longer be the repository manager; and the repository will need to be run and supported by the library and other central services.
Next Miggie Pickton from Northampton spoke about NECTAR. They used the OpenDOAR tool like most other people to formulate their policies, and also made significant re-use of other people’s sites to clarify other issues (notably Loughborough). She talking about their steering group, which in composition seems closer to the LRAPG, though serves a more strategic rather than practical role. She tried to show the NECTAR Briefing Sheet – clearly laying out the purpose of the repository; to showcase and preserve at the heart of its role, but was thwarted by the version of acrobat installed on the PC. In essence she explained that they turned principles into policy and then took the policies back to the community once they were set up. The University of Northampton annual research report is generated entirely from NECTAR; and material that is not ingested is not considered within the promotion cycle.
Then Nicky Cashman from Aberystwyth spoke about mandates and etheses and CADAIR. Noted resistance to mandate for theses internally, with concerns over student resistance to attend Aber as a result. However, currently nearly 30 universities have mandates in the UK she argued and that Aber risked being out of step as a result. Noted arguments coming especially from the humanities sector, so spoke directly to publishers. They agreed that a thesis and a monograph are very different entities; though publishers unwilling to decide this out of hand. Problem was policies for dealing with printed materials were well hidden, so they realised that they needed to make any policies more visible; something I agree whole heartily with. Like Miggie Aber made heavy use and reuse of other institutional policies. In the future Nicky will be raising OA issue awareness for students and staff.
Finally Sarah Hayes from Aston spoke, mostly about her work at Worcester with the DRaW Project. They drew up (no pun intended) a plan of action to guide decisions, rather than strict statements of policy. On the other hand policies dealing with content going into their repository for learning and teaching materials (CoRE) were much stricter. Practicality forced their hands in some respects as staff can choose whom has access to their teaching materials; but this seemed to be a barrier to uptake. She explained that there is a difference in finality between a research output and a learning object. Research goes into a repo as a final object, where teaching materials can be considered as works in progress constantly and hence this was where the reluctance to deposit them was arising from. She talked briefly about the Language Box software for learning object archiving. This was a very different kind of repository and the policies and challenges around it quite different from those we face at the LRA.
As one of the creators of OpenDOAR, I was very proud to see how much my many months of hard work were actually now benefiting the community.