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November 7, 2012 / playforth

Let them eat cake: launching the institutional repository

After outlining the way it was supposed to go, I thought I’d share some reflections on how the launch of our institutional repository is going in reality.

Really well, is my overall feeling! I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the level of interest and the fact that it’s been mostly positive. On launch day (Wednesday 24th October) we contacted all staff by email, an intranet notice and with a leaflet in their pigeonhole, and put posters up wherever we could. We immediately had some responses to the email asking how to get started and to express general interest/support. I held  the first demo that afternoon, using a library PC and providing free cake, and did the same thing on Thursday and Friday. Altogether 15 people attended a demo, which as we’re a small institute was a pretty good number. Most attendees were administrators, plus IT staff, library staff, communications and senior management.

Also on launch day I joined the administrative coordinators of our research teams at their regular meeting and gave them a similar demo. They were very keen and especially interested in how the repository could provide a ‘home’ for some of their team outputs that may not have made it online anywhere else yet. In general there has been an interest in the potential for multimedia formats, even though we said we were initially going to focus on text, so preparing to deal with audio, video etc is now a priority (not a problem technically for DSpace but we’ll need to look at metadata requirements and copyright). Other feedback from the demos was mostly around usability for depositors, such as offering more dropdown/autofill options,  and indicating required fields. We were also asked about importing and exporting records, server capacity, access to statistics, and why it’s so ugly!

Since there was further demand for demos from people who couldn’t attend in the first week, we are now running weekly drop-in sessions and I’ve just delivered the first of these in our library training room. I’ve also held a specific demo/meeting with the coordinators of a large new research project, whose funder has an open access policy, about using the repository as the main archive for all project outputs. The reaction from administrators (who will most likely be the ones depositing) has been enthusiastic relief (I think they were expecting an even more laborious process!), so hopefully I’ve done a good job of explaining things simply and emphasising how it meets their needs rather than it being a random thing the library is requiring them to do.

I do think copyright will be the sticking point, but I’ve tried to pre-empt some problems by creating guidance materials and by assuring people that there’s a final clearance stage before items go live so they shouldn’t be put off depositing due to uncertainty about permissions.

It’s too early to claim ‘ success’, since we don’t have anyone at the stage of self-deposit quite yet. However I do think we’ve made a positive impression on people, and I’d put it down to the following:

1. Attractive promotional material with clear branding that demonstrated the repository being ’embedded’/supported by the institute as a whole

3. Being approachable and visible

4. Being able to show that the repository meets a need

5. Simplifying (showing people only what they need to know)

6. Cake

Here’s our poster: IR poster OA week 2012

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