Digital Repositories

1.0 How the openness of learning and research content is driving change across all knowledge domains.

1.1 Introduction
Universities and colleges have increasingly used Internet and the digital technologies in teaching and learning. Open educational resources (OER) are now gaining attention and recognition owing to their potential in eliminating educational barriers and in promoting learning especially among the demographically and economically marginalized countries. CETIS (2008) explain the concept of openness of learning and research as:
'A concept based on the idea that knowledge should be disseminated and shared freely through the Internet for the benefit of society as a whole. The two most important aspects of openness being free availability and as few restrictions as possible on the use of the resource, whether technical, legal or price barriers' (CETIS, 2008).

To understand the role open resources play in driving change across the knowledge domain, it is important to appreciate the fact that the rise and growth of OERs open new corridors of opportunities for teaching and learning, and at the same time, present a challenge to the more established and matured views about the more traditional teaching and learning practices.

1.2 Openness as driver of innovation

Increased openness in any sector (be it teaching and learning or technology) has its benefits in promoting innovations. Openness especially in technology that might support teaching and learning allow ideas to collide, innovations across the board to be shared among the 'communities' and the concepts both existing, and the nurtured to re-worked and were appropriate mashed up, and iterative improvements to occur.

The 21st century higher learning education landscape faces the tremendous challenge of keeping up with the rapid changes in technology coupled with the explosion and rapid growth of information. This growth and easy access in information, made possible by the changes in technology and global connectedness, offers a rare opportunity for academic institutions, and in extension the population, to assess the benefits versus the more traditional closed/classroom model. In the traditional/closed model, the development, growth and explosion of knowledge is slow, as it has to be 'captured and rendered as curriculum, then be taught, and then be assessed' (Siemens, 2012).

Thus, it is important to institutions to take full advantage of rapidly developing knowledge and context by developing equally adaptive knowledge environment in their institutions and not serve a context that restricts innovation.

2.0 The relationship between open scholarship, digitization, and repositories

All of these three represent a step forward in embracing technological changes that in one way or another benefit the academic institutions as a whole.
2.1 The definitions

The Council of Australian university Librarians (CAUL) s' 2013 definition best describes open scholarship:

'An umbrella term used to describe developments such as open access, open science, open education and other 'open' initiatives. It reflects the increasingly open nature of access to information, research collaboration, and sharing and re-use of research data' (CAUL, 2013).

On the hand, Clifford Lynch's 2003 articles in which he describes the institutional repository, best explains it as:

'A set of services that a university offers to the members of its community for the management and dissemination of digital materials created by the institution and its community members' (Lynch, 2003). Professor Ponnudurai and Dhanabalan's 2012 article in Journal of Advances in Library and Information Science also describes digital repositories as 'digital archives of intellectual products created by the faculty, staff and students of an institution or group of institutions accessible to end users both within and outside the institution' (Dhanabalan and Ponnudurai, 2012).

Lastly, Lopatins' 2006 article in the journal of Library Hi Tech describes digitization as simply 'the conversion of print materials (books, newspapers, photographs, illustrations, maps, etc.) into an electronic version or digital surrogate' (Lopatin, 2006).

2.2 The relationship between the three

Increased access to e-resources is a result of several 'background' processes and activities that depend on one another to accomplish the final goal. For materials to be accessed via networks, they have to be in digital formats i.e. digitization must first precede content deposits into the repository. Secondly, repositories now provide the basis and the source of the contents that can be freely accessed by users (open access). In fact, in her 2006 paper on repository, Westell points out the important relationship between digitization and repository as:

'Where institutions have a digitization centre, the institutional repository will have a better chance of success. A digitization centre, which provides scanning and metadata services, format conversion, copyright clearance, support of cross platform searching, and models for digital collections, is a key component to indicating institutional commitment and demonstrating to the faculty that there is expertise available to preserve their research' (Westell, 2006).

Thus in a summary digitization enables conversion of resources into digital formats and deposited into institutional repository which can then be used to provide free or open access to users.

3.0 How to implement an institutional repository at a university that does not yet have a repository

There is no denying the importance of Institutional repositories for the researchers for the institution and for the research community at large. For modern academic libraries do not only limit themselves to few traditional 'soft' research contents but are also increasingly more accommodating of audio-video, reports, clippings and theses. The development of these types of repositories calls into attention specialized software packages (such as Dspace and Greenstone) for digital content management. As a result, this has become the center of Library IT infrastructure.(Dhanabalan and Ponnudurai, 2012).

3.1 Consideration

Before embarking on the actual exercise, it is important that the following issues are resolved or put in order as is advocated in the Stellenbosch university Institutional repository guide of 2012:

i. The institution must have a reliable Internet access so that the resources are available all the time. The institution will also have to make a provision for back up servers/data centers for disaster recovery
ii. Data sovereignty and digital preservation is of critical importance especially in this era of electronic espionage (Gibson, 2012).

3.2 Recommended steps
a. Open Access Policy and Digital Preservation Plan

The first step would be for the university to develop an open access policy and then a digital preservation plan both of which will provide a guide in planning for and building capacity, producing a trustworthy academic research repository in the long run.
b. Employ Repository Management Personnel

As a new section on its own, the university will have to make allowances for employment of repository librarians who will specifically and permanently be managing the repository. The appointments also must include IT personnel especially those that are conversant with Ubuntu Linux system administration, as the system would require periodic optimization and upgrades after the initial installation. The IT personnel team must also include web developers for website managing, customizing and styling.
c. Build Repository IT Infrastructure (Hardware and software system requirements)

Since the university does not have a repository yet, the initial stage will involve much of conversion of the printed and/or audio-video resources available and therefore scanners will be urgently needed. The scanners must include the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software that converts the scanned resources into the standard and reader-friendly digital formats. Server resources must also be budgeted for and replacement budgeting must also be included as in most cases the supplier warranty expires in one or two years.
Different universities choose different softwares according to needs, budget, staffing, and the after sales support offered (if it's a commercial software). Assuming the University's budget is somehow limited, but have personnel with significant technical expertise, they should opt for established open source softwares in the market such as CDSware, Greenstone, eprints, Fedora and Dspace which are recommended for institutions that are carrying out development of the repositories. These softwares can run on both windows and Ubuntu operating systems. Ubuntu is more recommended due to openness and stability. Dspace is recommended as it is supported by a foundation and is based on open standards.
d. Repository Policies

In order to have effective and sustainable repositories guidelines and policies must be put in place as suggested by the 2009's Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook (OASIS, 2009) . The policy must address areas related to the repository:

The collection itself
i. Types of materials to be included into the repository and the criteria for choosing them
ii. Who will be in charge of authorizing membership and overall rules
iii. The structure of the repository based on individual authors or faculties
iv. Who will be in charge of depositing the repository contents whether the librarians or the individual authors
v. Decide on who can monitor the materials submission and archiving 'whether self-archiving by authors or done by library staff.

Management, and access of the repository
i. Decide Who is responsible for what
ii. Decide appropriate approach on preservation and archiving
iii. Privacy concerns for registered users must be addressed by developing a privacy policy.
iv. Decide if authors can request a restricted access to their content if they so wish to do so.
v. Policies must be developed to address Intellectual property (IP) and licensing concerns

e. Repository System installation, Backup & Monitoring

The importance of due thoroughness when dealing with installation/back up of softwares with such importance cannot be over emphasized. Its safe to assume that the university will have personnel with extensive expertise on these areas as pointed earlier. If however the expertise is lacking it is better to hire consultancy services from reputable organizations/individuals to do the work than feel sorry later after messing up.

f. Repository Launch and Registration with Harvesters

After the necessary steps have been meticulously and faithfully been carried out the University can now plan for the official launch and do more to register with as many harvesters (websites/programs that read the repository metadata increasing the repository's internet visibility and ranking). This is an important step as advocated by Jordan's 2006 article on CARL metadata harvester (Jordan, 2006).

g. Marketing/Promoting the repository

Although the bulk of work might gave been done at this stage, populating the repository can be very challenging for many institutions. In her 2006 article Grieved outlines repositories marketing strategies as the ones that ensure the repository's visibility and success .The marketing of this repository must address area like the repository's Quality (e.g. Consistent metadata and accurate hyperlinks) Design (functionality and appearance) and Packaging & Labeling (e.g. attractive Web design and thesaurus or classification scheme) (Gierveld, 2006).
The repository can also be marketed and promoted trough such means as the institutional library's newsletters, leaflets, and magazines emphasizing the value of the repository (CARL, 2002).

3.3 Suggested repository content

To help determine the content of the newly developed repository, certain criteria have to be followed:
Academic resources
These resources include but not limited to monographs, conference presentations, working papers teaching materials (including audio or video clips), annotated series of images and peer-reviewed research papers (VanderVaart, 2004).

Grey literature
This refers to literature that is 'produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats, but which is not controlled by commercial publishers" (Cutler, 2000). For the university repository, this would include, but not limited to, preprint, conference proceedings staff and students' theses and dissertations, research and technical reports, research proposal for funding, Audit report and technical documentation

4.0 Assisting a university Digitize its collection

In deciding for items to be digitized, several things must be taken into account. In this case, the library will have to follow the criteria for digitization:
4.1 Selection of materials

Selection of materials to be digitized normally follows certain guidelines that take into account factors such as evaluation, priotization, and copyright of the materials to be digitized.
In this particular case, the items that are of great historical value such as the first edition books printed on brittle paper, logs of temperature, photographs, handwritten note books with scientific observations and sketches and rainfall data must be given priority and digitized. The second priority would go to the telescopes assuming the university can afford the sophisticated cameras.
As for the case of 36 unmarked water specimen bottles, it suffices to point out that the metadata are missing and therefore it will be difficult for users to access them.

4.2 Formats to be used for digitization

The digitization format guideline is adopted from the University of California guideline 2011 (CDL, 2011) and also from Nicholson et al. (2011). Thus, the items in this collection will carry the following formats:
i. Textual Materials (In this case books printed on brittle paper, logs of temperature, photographs, sketches and rainfall data) will have to be scanned and converted into either PDF format with embedded full-text transcriptions or HTML format that Utilizes standard character encodings such as UTF-8 or ASCII for full-text.
ii. The rest of the Materials (In this case the telescopes) will have to be photographed and converted into the TIFF format the standard and most compatible pixel array, resolution, and bit depth specifications, based on the features of the original object being digitized (CDL, 2011).

5.0 Conclusion

Modern libraries must embrace modern technologies in order to adapt to the sophisticated library user. To do this Institutional repositories must be strengthened and updated, for those that have not created them should strive to do so by increasing efforts in digitization, and finally openness and sharing of resources should be the key for libraries to survive.
6.0 Reference:

CARL. 2002. A Guide to Setting-Up an Institutional Repository [Online]. Available: [Accessed 16 April 2014].
CAUL. 2013. Open Scholarship [Online]. Available: [Accessed 15 April 2014].
CDL. 2011. CDL Digital File Format Recommendations: Master Production Files [Online]. Available: [Accessed 16 April 2014].
CETIS, J. 2008. Open Educational Resources ' Opportunities and Challenges for Higher Education [Online]. Available: [Accessed 15 April 2014].
CUTLER, D. E. Grey literature in energy: a shifting paradigm. 4th International Conference on Grey Literature, 2000. GreyNet, 109-115.
DHANABALAN, A. & PONNUDURAI, R. 2012. Design and Development of Institutional Repository at Annamalai University. Journal of Advances in Library and Information Science, 1(4), 160-164.
GIBSON, H. 2012. Practical guidelines for starting an institutional repository using DSpace software [Online]. Available: [Accessed 15 April 2014].
GIERVELD, H. 2006. Considering a marketing and communications approach for an institutional repository. Ariadne, 49.
JORDAN, M. 2006. The CARL metadata harvester and search service. Library hi tech, 24(2), 197-210.
LYNCH, C. 2003. Institutional Repositories: Essential Infrastructure for Scholarship in the Digital Age [Online]. Available: [Accessed 15 May 2014].
NICHOLSON, S. W., PEIFFER, R. & SHAW, J. D. 2011. Hardware in libraries: making informed choices. Library Hi Tech, 29(1), 73-82.
OASIS. 2009. Establishing a Repository [Online]. Available: [Accessed 15 April 2014].
SIEMENS, G. 2012. Openness: Why learners should know about, and influence, how decisions are made about their learning [Online]. Available: [Accessed 15 April 2014].
VANDERVAART, L. 2004. DARE, the voyage begun. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 16 April 2014].
WESTELL, M. 2006. Institutional repositories: proposed indicators of success. Library Hi Tech 24.2, 211-226.

Source: Essay UK -

About this resource

This Information Technology essay was submitted to us by a student in order to help you with your studies.

Search our content:

  • Download this page
  • Print this page
  • Search again

  • Word count:

    This page has approximately words.



    If you use part of this page in your own work, you need to provide a citation, as follows:

    Essay UK, Digital Repositories. Available from: <> [26-05-20].

    More information:

    If you are the original author of this content and no longer wish to have it published on our website then please click on the link below to request removal: