Webology, Volume 4, Number 1, March, 2007

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Book Review

The Institutional Repository. Richard Jones, Theo Andrew & John MacCollaren. Published by Chandos Publishing, Chandos House, 5 & 6 Steadys Lane, Stanton Harcourt, Oxford, OX29 5RL, UK. 2006, 250 p., Paperback, ISBN 1843341387, 39.95£; Hardback, ISBN 1843341832, 57£.

At a time when the future nature of scholarly communication and publishing are being debated this book serves as a useful reference guide for one of the key aspects- the institutional repository.

Institutional repositories are a popular recent development for distributing and communicating research. They are a useful academic tool for administrating and publishing electronic resources produced by university members in order to increase access to these, both at an institutional and global level. However, there is still no general concensus about the characteristics of an institutional repository. What types of material are deposited? Who is responsible for building and maintaing a repository, how will copyright be managed, who will cover installation and maintenance costs? How will quality, integrity and preservation of the materials be assured?

The authors of the book state that 'although the stage for the institutional repository has been set, it has not yet reached maturity'. In this sense, this is not a definite book as both the role of institutional repositories within the scholarly communication system as well as many of the underlying technologies are still a work in progress. The book is useful because it brings together material, experiences and discussions- condensing them into a manual for any institution intending to set up an institutional repository. This is not a text that questions whether institutional repositories are useful, but rather it discusses how one can be implemented. The institutional repository scene is still very new but the authors draw on their experience from their work on repositories at the University of Edinburgh and the book is loaded with first hand expertise. It is a wealth of practical and useful guidelines.

The initial chapters set the institutional repository in context, including its relationship to the digital library. This section is useful as it helps to determine how the repository can fit within the institution's framework. The implementation of an institutional repository is outlined, from advocating the importance of one to the practicalities involved. This is followed by a chapter on Technologies and Technicalities that examines several different technical aspects that an institution will have to take into consideration when setting up an institutional repository. Although no particular software is described the authors focus on open source software rather than a proprietary system. They include important aspects that should be taken into account during the design process and the selection and implementation of particular software. A key issue preservation is discussed, and although current best practices are recommended, it is clear that this is a complicated and as yet unresolved issue. As with other pending issues, the authors maintain that it is important to keep the structure of the institutional repository as flexible as possible in order to accommodate future developments.

The technical setting up of an institutional repository is only the beginning. The quantity and quality of the electronic resources that it contains is crucial. The running of the institutional repository is described in Chapter 4 where workflow and administration are discussed in general terms. The administrative setting of a repository will vary greatly from institution to institution and so the authors argue for a need to understand general workflow procedures for a particular institutional repository. Administrative procedures to support these processes can then be determined. The Open Archival Information Systems (OAIS), published by the CCSDS (The Consultive Committee for Space Data Systems) is heavily drawn upon. However, the chapter offers two practical workflow examples, which are useful to understand the more theoretical concepts. What is important to note is that administrative processes for an institutional repository will vary greatly depending on the institution where they are held and there is no prescriptive model to describe them.

One of the greatest problems for institutional repositories has been to generate a significant corpus of electronic materials. Most groups responsible for implementing an institutional repository (usually the Library) have reported great difficulty in engaging active participation from the research community. Chapter 5 - Advocacy- is dedicated to analyzing the different reasons behind technological adoption lag. The well-known terms of innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards is used. However, it could be argued that this classification is more technically deterministic and does not take into account more sociological factors which are important when considering technological adoption. For example, the lack of incentives within the reward and prestige system, other than increased citation, could possibly be a major factor in deterring widespread adoption of self-archiving.

The following chapter on Intellectual Property offers an interesting array of options for fulfilling legal requirements and protecting all interested parties. The authors provide a means of identifying and characterizing certain risks, as well as suggesting common solutions. The chapter also discusses a new role for the Library- or the group in charge of the institutional repository- as responsible for capturing and publishing locally produced material. For libraries in particular, this is an unfamiliar role as they traditionally store and make available external material that had been produced elsewhere. Although much of the book is based on the authors' particular experience, the final chapter is dedicated to a case study of the Edinburgh Research Archive, in particular with their experiences from Theses Alive and SHERPA projects. The chapter neatly demonstrates some of the more theoretical aspects outlined in the book and serves as a real life example for anyone wanting to build an institutional repository.

Each of the seven chapters offers some conclusive remarks. However, there are no overall conclusions for the book. The text would have benefited from an overall conclusions section, possibly with the author's opinions and remarks about the future of institutional repositories and how they are developing in other parts of the world. However, in general the book is both interesting and useful, in particular if one is interested in setting up an institutional repository. The authors' inside know how on such a relatively new technology is a significant contribution to the literature on this subject.

Isabel Galina
E-mail: i.russell (at) ucl.ac.uk
Centre for Publishing
School of Library, Archive and Information Studies
University College London

Bibliographic information of this book review for citing:

Galina, Isabel (2007). "Review of: Jones, R., Andrew, T., & MacCollaren, J. The Institutional Repository." Chandos Publishing: Oxford, 2006. Webology, 4 (1), Book Review 6. Available at: http://www.webology.org/2007/v4n1/bookreview6.html

Copyright © 2007, Isabel Galina.