Open Repositories 2011: Community Meet-up in the "Live Music Capital of the World"
Carol Minton Morris
The Sixth International Conference on Open Repositories convened in Austin, Texas on June 8, 2011, bringing people from all over the world together to focus on how repositories might be more closely integrated into the technically and community-driven digital scholarly landscape. The program consisted of 24 general track presentations and four blocks of 24/7's (24 slides presented in 7 minutes) under the broad theme of "Collaboration and Community". Institutional repositories do not stand alone they are mechanisms for advancing policy and best practices that must co-exist with other systems. This conference showed that in order for repositories to continue to meet the changing needs of knowledge organizations, there is much interesting work to be done to develop repository communities and collaborations, in support of preserving the scholarly record in open repositories.
The Sixth International Conference on Open Repositories once again brought people from all over the world together to focus on how repositories might be more closely integrated into the technically and community-driven digital scholarly landscape. The main program got underway on June 8, 2011 in Austin Texas with introductions from Conference host Mark McFarland, University of Texas, and Conference Program Chair Tom Cramer, Stanford University. Cramer offered details about how the popular OR Conference had grown. This year OR11 received 160 submissions from more than 250 authors on 6 continents. The program consisted of 24 general track presentations and four blocks of 24/7s (24 slides presented in 7 minutes) under the broad theme of "Collaboration and Community." Meetings, workshops, a poster session, sponsor-led events and a CURATECamp were all part of pre- and post-conference activities. The ever-popular JISC-sponsored Developer Challenge yielded out-of-the-box demonstrations of new concepts around how repositories and evolving technologies might better meet the needs of knowledge organizations. The almost weeklong conference wrapped up with DSpace, Eprints and Fedora User Group meetings held on June 10 and 11.
Leading an open source meritocracy
Jim Jagielski, President, Apache Software Foundation (ASF), opened the program with a keynote address entitled, "Open Source: It's Not Just for IT Any More." His talk was focused on the democratic and community-driven open source approach to writing software used to develop many of the world's most successful technologies. He is a self-proclaimed open source and IT enthusiast in all things web and cloud-related, and a core developer of Apache.
He believes that information technology development is now being led by open source-style initiatives and projects. The ASF exists to support the open source software development model by providing:
Secret sauce for creating community
With more than 70 active ASF projects Jagielski suggests that open source development allows each person who contributes code to have an impact on the IT industry. The draw of open source is that it creates an environment where the makers or developers are connected with the meaning behind their contributions.
Those outside the OS development world often wonder "how crazy are these people?" Money is not exchanged, but institutional resources do change hands. Access to source code and the "tinkering" factor draw geeks to a process that places their skills at the center of an iterative development process.
Jagielski suggests that there is an Open Source ladder of licensing give me credit, give me fixes, give me everything that is relative to how much intangible benefit a code contributor receives in exchange for work on a particular project.
Community-created software code works mainly because participants love writing code. By creating a grassroots, peer-based atmosphere of mutual respect and trust where all votes hold the same weight the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has enabled the development of valuable software by and for a community of developers.
A community of reporters
It may have been the dynamic conference content, or perhaps the ample quantities of southwest-style beef barbeque and music that inspired an avalanche of OR11 posts and tweets from attendees. Reports included interesting, on-the-spot reflections, reviews, analyses, and in-depth summaries of emerging technologies, trends, implementations and impressions in posts and tweets written by OR11 conference participants.
This (partial) list of references is provided for those who want to learn more about specific aspects of the OR11 program as well as pre- and post- conference events, with apologies for any missing links, and thanks to the reporters: Richard Davis, Michael Giarlo, H.J. (Driek) Heesakkers, Leslie Johnston, Bram Luyten, Mahendra Mahey, Peter Murray, Peter Sefton, R. Sutton, and Elias Tzoc.
Slides and AbstractsSlides and abstracts that are available are linked from the Presentations and Authors page on the conference website. OR11 presenters may still send their presentations to mailto:email@example.com.
da blog, ULCC Digital Archives Blog, by Richard Davis
CURATEcamp at OR11
Library Spring "Accentuate the positive." On innovation for academic research libraries, and keeping up with the Googles, by H.J. (Driek) Heesakkers
The Signal, Digital Preservation, Library of Congress, by Leslie Johnston
@mire, by Bram Luyten
DevCSI blog, by Mahendra Mahey
The Disruptive Library Technology Jester blog: We're Disrupted, We're Librarians, and We're Not Going to Take it Anymore, by Peter Murray
DuraSpace Blog, by Carol Minton Morris
ptsefton blog, by Peter Sefton
Emory Libraries Tech Know-how, by R. Sutton
Elias' blog: Just another blog/or a way to save/share an idea, by Elias Tzoc
Closing keynote: Clifford Lynch on repositories as a catalyst for policy evolution
Clifford Lynch, Executive Director of the Coalition of Networked Information (CNI), offered closing observations on the evolution of repositories over the last decade. In his view there is no good way to measure total content in all repositories, everywhere, because we have many different ways of determining what constitutes a digital object and measuring terabytes of data does not have real meaning. In his closing keynote address to a plenary session at OR11 on June 10, 2011 Lynch took a step back to examine what some of the discussions around the development of global repositories had accomplished.
"Repositories have provided a focus and a fulcrum for an absolutely critical series of policy discussions," he said. Universities' role in the curation of knowledge how the evidence upon which inquiry is based should be curated in determining what the academy's role in the dissemination of knowledge is, are all key questions at universities that have been brought to the forefront by the development of repositories. Repository development has advanced important policy issues.
Repository growth has also led to the confusion of mechanism and policy. Institutional repositories are services that support policy choices and are not always the right mechanisms for advancing policies. Focusing on institutional assets and the balance between faculty control, institutional goals and open access are all adjacent points for discussion.
The movement towards open access to knowledge and research is another big win for repositories in the last decade. This debate has in turn surfaced questions about access to research data.
Repositories have also pointed to the need for universities to have a role in dissemination of educational resources.
Collaborations around technical and policy aspects of repository development have created ongoing dialogs and brought new voices into conversations around changing institutional scholarship.
Name authority is built on dirty data
Many nationally and internationally bizarre practices have emerged around name authority and Identity management (IdM). (Wikipedia: "... identifying individuals in a system and controlling access to the resources in that system by placing restrictions on the established identities of the individuals.")
Looking back over the history of IdM, there was too much "stuff" by the beginning of the last century to manage identity of anything but books. There were too many authors to track other types of materials, so a rational IdM system was only established for books and other materials that were shared among institutions.
Lynch feels that an authority file should be simple. National dictionaries of literary biographies do not couple well with name files. We can start doing things with author data from scientific and journal literature. We need to disambiguate by assigning unique author identifiers and cleaning up the current mess.
The ongoing development of institutional repositories can be a big part of matching literary names with identity files from an institution. Most big universities manage information systems that include course management systems, digital libraries, university records, active research, databases and more. Where does the institutional repository fit in and where are its boundaries?
In conclusion: notable trends and a few questions
It is clear that institutional repositories and society, writ large, will need to work together because IRs do not stand alone. They are mechanisms for advancing policy that sit among many adjacent systems. There is still work to be done on developing the appropriate scope for repository development while considering linkages that can work.
Open Repositories 2012
The Seventh International Conference on Open Repositories (OR12) will be hosted by the University of Edinburgh in Scotland from July 9-13, 2012. To get announcements about this event and other OR-related communications, you may join the OR announcements mailing list here: http://groups.google.com/group/open-repositories.
About the Author