Libraries Play a Key Role in Setting Up and Managing Open Repositories

The recent report from RIN, Research Information Network, and RLUK, Research Libraries UK, presents the findings of a systematic study of the value of the services that libraries in the UK provide to researchers, and of the contributions that libraries from a wide range of institutions make to institutional research performance. The entire research is available online.

In the report, visual maps are created that present various library behaviors and characteristics and show the outcomes and benefits they bring to researchers and institutions.
One chapter in the paper is particularly focused on the institutional repositories and their impact on the visibility of the institution and its research profile.

Repositories Increase the Visibility of the Institution and Raise Its Research Profile

“Most institutions now have repositories to store and make available institutional assets such as research papers and theses. In most cases, the library runs the repository on behalf of the institution, and senior institutional managers acknowledge the role the repository plays in increasing the visibility of the institution’s outputs and raising its research profile,” the report begins. “But repositories are only as valuable as the content they hold, and now the focus is on increasing the volume of content, by making it routine for researchers to deposit their outputs. Libraries are now playing an increasing role in educating researchers and building more effective procedures and approaches across the institution.”

The map from the chapter on repositories shows how a good managing of institutional repository includes collecting only high-quality data, increasing awareness of repositories and building systems which are researcher-focused. This kind of managing will bring more researchers to deposit their work in the repositories and end benefits for libraries will be the higher quality of research, increased potential readership of research and finally, more research income.

The report shows how libraries have played a fundamental role in setting up and managing repositories. Some of the libraries’ roles in supporting and promoting repositories are:

  • promoting the repository through their established links with researchers and academic departments
  • using their knowledge management skills to help populate the repository with full text records and appropriate metadata
  • using their understanding of academic publishing and copyright to ensure that researchers understand what can be deposited in the repository and on what terms
  • employing their bibliographic expertise to check records and improve their accuracy

Their future role in educating researchers will be ever increasing, it is reported. Their missions will include:

  • improving workflows to make deposit easier and to alleviate researchers’ ‘ worries ‘ (eg by linking in services such as SHERPA’s RoMEO and JULIET which set out publishers’ and funders’ policies on issues including copyright, deposit, and open access)
  • continuing to work with academic departments to raise awareness and promote the benefits of the repository
  • educating researchers on funders’ policies and on topics such as copyright and open access to help them make informed decisions
  • increasing awareness of researchers’ obligations to their institution and to their funders, and working with others such as the Research Support Office to ensure that funders’ open access requirements are met by grant holders

At the University Alliance Institutions, they explain how libraries can make researchers more comfortable about depositing. For example, a library team can check all submissions for copyright, embargos, versions and accurate metadata. “This, and a programme of educating researchers about issues such as copyright, have made researchers “much more comfortable” with depositing their outputs in the repository,” UAI report concludes.

Finally, universities and institutions must communicate information about the research they host, and it is believed that the advent of institutional Research Information Management Systems (RIMS) in UK, connecting the repository and other institutional systems, “will change the landscape further in some institutions. Building a coherent infrastructure of technical systems, policies and practice will enable research processes, performance and outputs to be better managed, and will be less onerous for researchers. Libraries are major stakeholders in the planning and implementation of RIMS, and are likely to be a key part of the workflow.”

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