ICS’S NEW INSTITUTIONAL REPOSITORY IS A DIGITAL STOREHOUSE FOR CHRISTIAN SCHOLARSHIP. IT IS NO SMALL UNDERTAKING, BUT THE BENEFITS WILL BE FAR-REACHING.
By Isabella Guthrie-McNaughton
As you read this you might be asking yourself the following question: “What is an institutional repository?” Otherwise known as an IR, an institutional repository is an online database that consists of intellectual output or digital assets. In ICS’ repository, works created by the faculty, research staff, students and alumni, as well as archival documents have been organized and made openly available for the public. From the standpoint of scholarly communication and an archival perspective, an IR fulfills several needs: the preservation of older materials that have been digitized as well as born-digital materials, the organization of the digital output through specialized metadata understood by Internet search engines, and the provision of open access to scholarly materials that could have remained behind licensed paywalls.
Since January 2013, ICS has been developing an institutional repository with the assistance of Open Repository (BioMed Central/Springer). Digital copies of our scholarly and popular works will be stored and made freely accessible through using the open source software DSpace and the hosting services of Open Repository. As this project progresses, we plan to add various archival collections (images, audio recordings, archival finding aids, etc.), specialized unpublished works located in our historical collections and works by our alumni. Up to this point and with the assistance of Daryl Kinsman (IT & Communications Manager), Matt Johnson (Junior Member) and Heather Blomberg (volunteer), we have been digitizing, indexing and storing our holdings of electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs), senior member and junior member publications, and our newsletter Perspective. The official launch of the repository (ir.icscanada.edu) will take place during International Open Access Week, Oct. 21-25, 2013. Launch activities will include a global media and partners blitz by Open Repository.
“Open Repository provides a sustainable technological foundation that allows us to meet our stewardship obligations today while embracing Open Access, which is relatively new to the humanities, at an appropriate pace.”
— Daryl Kinsman, Manager of Information Technology
To continue our participation in the Library/Archives Canada (LAC) Theses Canada Portal, ICS had to develop and implement an institutional repository. In 2006, we joined the Theses Canada Portal program, when LAC would no longer accept paper copies of our theses and dissertations. (see: Perspective, 41 (September 2007): 5) hdl.handle.net/10756/277517). For us to continue sending our theses and dissertations to the Portal, we needed a repository that would be OAI-PMH compliant (a world-recognized data format standard) for the LAC metadata harvesting agent. We are quite excited to be able to deliver our theses electronically, not only to LAC, but to other international ETD portals and to global academic search engines such as Google Scholar and OpenDOAR. Our older theses are also being digitized and will be globally accessible for the first time in electronic format. (If you are an ICS alum and find that your thesis is under embargo in our repository, please contact us so we can send you the necessary permission forms for your thesis to be released.)
Secondly, in terms of our archival holdings we wanted a system that would allow for the preservation and communication of Perspective, as well as some of our archival special collections (photographs, audio recordings, etc.). When our repository is formally launched, visitors will find the full text (with images) of most Perspective issues, dating from the earliest issues in the 1960s to the most current. These were already available online but difficult to search for and laborious to maintain.
Finally, we wanted a mechanism that would highlight and preserve the scholarly output of our senior and junior members.
We hope to realize several benefits through the implementation of our institutional repository. The primary benefit is to substantially increase our scholarly visibility. It is fascinating to study the statistical analysis feed that is a component of the DSpace repository software. Who knew a particular master’s thesis would be repeatedly viewed by people in Iraq, the United States, United Kingdom, Poland and Sweden?! The repository also provides a safe mechanism for the storage of our digital scholarly and archival publications. Above all, it will make it easier for our supporters to keep abreast of our latest research, authored by senior and junior members as well as alumni, thus contributing to the overall mission of ICS.
October 2013 >