On Friday morning I attended an excellent pre-conference workshop at ScienceOnline2010 lead by Dorthea Salo. You should read her very interesting article about repositories called “Innkeeper at the Roach Motel“. The workshop was mainly a discussion with librarians and researchers about the uses, possibilities and problems with institutional repositories. Most of the participants were from larger universities – those with graduate students and larger faculties than the institution I work at.
For a small institution like mine, having our own institutional repository might not make sense. We probably don’t have the library staff to run it well. So what are our options?
Well, first there is a SUNY-wide institutional repository. Each SUNY campus has some space on it – and each campus seems to be using it for very different purposes – some are using it for archiving documents, some are using it for internal communications. At the moment SUNY Geneseo isn’t even listed.
Other options include disciplinary repositories. The most well known is arXiv.org for physics, math and other related fields. Some of our faculty have deposited pre-prints here. For our faculty with NIH grants, PubMed Central can be the repository of choice.
But for many of our faculty, their only way of archiving their papers may be to post them on their own personal website, where they might not be as easy to find.
How much does this matter? How vital are institutional repositories to public access to scientific information? As publishers grant open access to journal archives and more high quality open access publications become available, will repositories have a function in the future? I don’t know the answers, but I’ll be paying attention to folks like Dorthea to see how this might work out.