Institutional Repositories in British Columbia

May 2012

Heather Morrison, BC ELN

Strategy 3.2 of the BC ELN 2011-2016 Strategic Plan calls for BC ELN to “articulate and implement an appropriate role for BC ELN in managing open access archives (e.g. Institutional Repositories, Learning Object Repositories) and supporting adoption by BC ELN partners".

Actions identified for 2012/13 at the fall 2011 BC ELN All Partners Meeting include:

The BC ELN 2011-2016 Strategic Plan can be found here: http://www.eln.bc.ca/view.php?id=1947 link

This article highlights some existing institutional repositories (IR) in British Columbia, including the DSpace installations at University of British Columbia (UBC) and University of Victoria (U Vic), and Simon Fraser University (SFU)’s new Drupal-based IR. University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) is planning to have an IR up and running this fall, using Islandora. British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) is gearing up for their 50th anniversary with an Innovative Interfaces Content Pro IR. The article concludes with a few tips on staffing and workflow for an institutional repository service by local experts. 

From the UBC Library website, UBC’s cIRcle is a:

digital repository for research and teaching materials created by the UBC community and its partners. Materials in cIRcle are openly accessible to anyone on the web, and will be preserved for future generations. From: https://circle.ubc.ca/ link

According to cIRcle Coordinator Hilde Colenbrander, about 90% of the 40,000 items in cIRcle are theses. Conference proceedings are another popular repository item. The British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium series, with proceedings going back to 1977, illustrates the potential of institutional repositories for developing collections of importance throughout the province: https://circle.ubc.ca/handle/2429/6934 link

cIRcle uses the open source D-Space platform. So does U Vic’s IR. UVicSpace administrator Katy Nelson advises that “If another library wanted to use DSpace, they would need to have a staff member who understands the programming requirements for using the software, including unix and java….D-Space may not be the best choice for a smaller institution”.  Of the 3,418 items in UVicSpace, 2,644 (75%) are theses.

According to the U Vic website, UVicSpace is growing:

UVicSpace, our institutional repository, preserves and provides access to the digital scholarly works of UVic faculty, students and staff. From articles and conference reports to electronic theses and dissertations, UVicSpace is a quick, easy, and innovative way to increase the visibility and impact of your research. From: http://dspace.library.uvic.ca:8080/ link

BC’s research libraries are part of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries’ Institutional Repository project. U Vic’s Katy Nelson and Nancy Stuart recently published on: Stuart, N., & Nelson, K. (2012). Trends from the Canadian IR/ETD survey 2012. University of Victoria Libraries. Retrieved from: http://dspace.library.uvic.ca:8080/handle/1828/3845 link

SFU Library recently migrated from D-Space to a locally developed Drupal-based system for SFU’s institutional repository. SUMMIT http://summit.sfu.ca/ link was highlighted by Don Taylor at the March 2012 SPARC Open Access Meeting.

Why Drupal? SFU’s Don Taylor explains that there were two reasons for this choice: flexibility, and to simplify systems support.

Drupal means more flexibility to respond to faculty requests and users needs, such as requests by departments for RSS feeds to automatically point to new items in SUMMIT from the department,  making records exportable to Zotero, developing Authors' pages, and handling restricted collections.

SFU’s decision to go with Drupal is to some extent based on local needs: SFU Library did not have a java programmer (necessary for DSpace). SFU Library does have systems staff who know Drupal. Also, Drupal is a widely used open source system, so there is a gigantic global pool of editors.

UNBC’s James Macdonald emphasizes the importance of considering local needs in selecting institutional repository software. UNBC plans to have a repository up and running for fall 2012. Support for electronic theses is a key first priority. UNBC has selected the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) developed Islandora, which uses the Fedora back-end (same as D-Space) and a Drupal front end. Like SFU, a key reason for selecting a Drupal-based system is UNBC’s ability to hire programmers who understand Drupal. More about Islandora can be found here: http://islandora.ca/ link

Fitting in with local systems was the main reason for BCIT’s recent decision to purchase Innovative Interface’s Content Pro for their IR, a complement to BCIT’s Innovative Interfaces library system.

BCIT’s Liz Padilla explains that the main purpose of the BCIT institutional repository is to store and present BCIT’s rich historical archives, consisting of over a quarter million photos, institutional records, audio recordings, and films. BCIT is gearing up for their 50th anniversary in 2014, and the plan is to have a rich repository of historical materials, from the time of BCIT’s founding in the 1960’s, including visits by famous people like Pierre Trudeau, and alumni events.

Much of the work preparing for this project will involve sifting through the archives and selecting important materials; only about 10% of the material has been organized and described. BCIT’s IR project illustrates that there is some overlap between the institutional repository concept and digitization of historical materials.

BCcampus’ SOL*R, Shareable Online Learning Resources, http://solr.bccampus.ca/wp/ linkis a collaborative repository available to BC educators. One of the most active communities in SOL*R is ALPS LINK, the BCLA Academic Librarians in Public Services’ Library Instruction Knapsack, an ALPS / BC ELN collaborative initiative: http://www.eln.bc.ca/link/ link

Smaller institutions with just a few researchers on staff might want to consider directing researchers to the free My Open Archive service as an interim measure before a collaborative IR is available: http://myopenarchive.org/ link

Planning tips

Planning is essential. In addition to software selection, policies will be needed on acquisitions (what kinds of materials to acquire? what formats can be supported?), preservation, and access. For most material in repositories, the default will be open access – but what exactly does this mean? Are embargoes allowed? Will your institution have a policy requiring deposit of work and covering access? In the case of theses and works developed by the institution itself, the answer will likely be yes. Examples of policies can be found at the Registry of Open Access Material Archiving Policies site: http://roarmap.eprints.org/ link.
Marketing is key to content recruitment, and to make sure that the service is used.

Staffing: libraries that want to develop their own IR will need a dedicated professional on at least a part-time basis, ideally with some systems expertise. When hosting locally, it is important to consider the programming language requirements of system (e.g. java for D-Space). Several libraries have reported that some of the work, such as scanning and uploading documents and creating or checking metadata, has created a new role for experienced library support staff. The skills of people with years of service in areas like technical services or document delivery, such as attention to detail, understanding of metadata and library processing, transition well to the modern digital environment.

Students are likely to deposit their own work (especially theses, when they are required to do so), but faculty are much more likely to leave the work of checking copyright and digitizing where necessary to someone else.

Next steps: this spring, watch for a needs assessment survey designed to investigate the needs and opportunities for a collaborative institutional repository service for BC ELN partner libraries.

Questions? If you have any questions about the BC ELN IR project, contact: Heather Morrison, heatherm@eln.bc.ca.