I’ve written several blog entries about creating an institutional repository (IR) for Davidson. Almost exactly a year ago, in January 2013, I discussed the effort in the context of preserving Davidson’s intellectual heritage, then back in June revisited the subject as we decided to go with a hosted solution using open source software. After a great deal of effort at Davidson (content and testing), and Lyrasis, the hosting vendor (programming and infrastructure), we are close to unveiling our new Islandora software platform, albeit quite a bit later in the academic year than we had hoped for.
As the launch of the IR nears the Davidson project team has had a discussion about what to call this project. We decided that the first task would be clarifying what the goals for the IR are. The overall consensus seems to be something along the lines of “a vehicle for capturing and preserving the research, scholarly output and documents of a particular institution” as put forward by our archivist Jan Blodgett. The challenge in this definition is that it may be restrictive in terms of some of the things we want to include. Certainly faculty and staff publications and research data, student scholarly work (theses and posters), college publications, student publications and other Davidson produced works fit this definition. However, digitized items like the Cumming Map Collection or the Bullard Book of Hours don’t seem to fit into these categories. They are certainly worth making available online, but aren’t products of Davidson’s intellectual output.
We certainly want to keep these types of materials available, and we have turned to discussing how to structure the site so as to make these distinctions clear for users. Over the course of writing this entry I am beginning to wonder if we are debating something that doesn’t matter to most of you. Who on campus hasn’t listened to two or more scholars/specialists debate minutiae in their chosen field that doesn’t really matter to the rest of us laypeople? Is that the behavior the IR team is engaging in? It is hard to be sure, but I think we will concentrate our energies on putting the final touches on content and functionality and turn to all of you for feedback and discussion on the content and structure once it is in use.
Keep an eye out on the library news on our web pages and in your inboxes for an announcement coming soon regarding the unveiling.