Open Repositories 2009 – Peter Sefton's thoughts

Filed under: Uncategorized — ptsefton @ 4:20 pm

Please note – The CAIRSS blog has relocated to

I posted a general summary of my trip to Open Repositories 2009 over on my blog (this is Peter Sefton writing). Katy Watson asked me to make some comments for CAIRSS. As with Tim McCallum’s trip I was funded by USQ.

The big theme mentioned in my post, and this is something that I used to go on about in the RUBRIC project, is that a repository is not a bit of software, it’s a way of life. Put more formally, repositories are more about governance of services than they are about software applications. There was a fair bit of this ‘set of services’ approach evident a OR09 I take this as a positive sign that we are moving beyond the idea that the bit of software that you call The Repository is all there is. For a local example, look at the way some sites are going to deal with evidence for the ERA by putting files up on a simple web server. Provided this is accompanied by procedures and governance to ensure the materials persist for an appropriate length of time, I think it’s just part of the repository service offered by the library to the institution.

I didn’t see much at the conference about institutional repositories specifically so not much to report to the CAIRSS community about that, and as I’m primarily in technical role I spent a fair bit of time with the technical crowd.

One thing I think is striking is how well ePrints is doing; it seems that their model of single-institution support is a good way to provide vibrant software they are producing new releases at least as fast as DSpace and Fedora. I get the sense that the administrative overhead of establishing the DuraSpace organization and managing highly distributed developer teams is making progress hard for those platforms at the moment. When we did the RUBRIC project I think there was a feeling that ePrints was old technology and ‘better’ Fedora based solutions were going to be the way forward, but at least one Australian ePrints site has stayed with the software and not gone ahead with a planned move to a Fedora based system. Note my prediction in my blog post that there will be a Fedora back-end option for ePrints by the time Open Repositories 2010 comes around. At this stage I think ePrints is a really good solution for document-based repositories. Me, I would not be managing other kinds of collection with it, but at Southampton they do and I may be eating those words soon.

I pointed this out in my other post but I will do so here as well. USQ now has ePrints hooked up to our ICE content management system, meaning that we have papers, presentations and posters going in not just as PDF but as web pages. This is going to allow us to do much more with linking documents to data and providing rich interactive experiences. My last few items all have HTML as the primary object, with PDF available if you click through there are a few glitches to sort out but we’re getting there.

VTLS, of VITAL fame, had a small presence, pitching a bit of open source software for OAI-PMH. Nice to see them contributing in this way.

Remember, it’s not a software package, it’s a state of mind.

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