Many universities have taken great interest in creating institutional repositories, a centralized service that can house the electronic documents that represent the intellectual content produced within the organization. Scholarly articles, theses and dissertations, and working papers are but some of the items of content that many academic institutions channel into these repositories to provide increased accessibility and better long-term preservation.
The software that underlies an institutional repository needs to provide mechanisms for collecting, managing, providing access to, and preserving electronic content created within the institution.
To date, most of implementations of institutional repositories have been based on freely available open source software, usually the DSpace software created through a partnership between Hewlett-Packard and MIT Libraries, or Fedora, software created with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation by Cornell University and the University of Virginia. VTLS offers a product called VITAL, based on the Fedora software with commercial installation and support services.
Innovative Interfaces recently created commercial institutional repository software called “Symposia.” Developed in partnership with Northeastern University in Boston, this software includes the functionality seen in the open source alternatives, with complete installation and support services as most libraries expect from their ILS and other major software investments.
Symposia will include a Java-based client for managing the content in the repository, a Web forms-based process for content owners to submit documents and enter metadata to describe them. Symposia also will support the Open Archives Initiative Metadata Harvesting Protocol to make the metadata available to other applications and resources, which provides the infrastructure to make the institutional repository part of a federated searching environment.
A prototype of the Symposia software has been operational at Northeastern University since January 2005. Full production use of the system is expected to be in place by January 2006.
The Library Technology Report “Establishing an Institutional Repository” (Jul/Aug 2004, 40:4) by Susan Gibbons, “guides you through the process of establishing an institutional repository at your organization, from conceptualization to actualization, encompassing both the technology and the intangibles.” Subscribers to ALA TechSource (to both Smart Libraries and Library Technology Reports) can access Gibbons's well-received report at www.techsource.ala.org.