IRLS 675: Unit 7: New Features for Repositories

New Features for Repositories?
This week our blog topic is optional so I decided to examine possible new features for my repository collection. I tried to examine questions such as what does the scholarly community require in a repository collection or what services could be added to enhance the content and usage of a repository.

Repositories, User Needs, and Usability
When I started to examine how repository creators plan their repository project, I was startled to find out that according to a census of institutional repositories in the US by Karen Markey et al only 35.4% of those who implemented institutional repositories in the US did a user needs assessment. As usability assessments and user needs assessments are widely used in web development, a field in which I have some experience, I am very aware of the value of such development in helping to drive traffic to websites. Could the same ideas be used in the development of repositories?

A search of the literature revealed that some scholars were already investigating the usability of institutional repositories. Kim & Kim (2008) examined “improvements for better usability of a digital institutional repository – the dCollection.” They used the FRBR model concepts to the search and browser functions of a digital repository as well as to the metadata submission process. For instance, they recommended adding three more terms to the search function department, publication year and thesis adviser.  According to Kim & Kim, “The FRBR is a recommendation of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) to restructure catalog databases to reflect the conceptual structure of information resources.

Services to Enhance Content and Usage
Other commentators argue that a publication repository should “first and foremost” be “a tool at the service of researchers” (Armbruster & Laurent, 2010). Their own work, for instance, should be available as a “personal archive” which can easily be created using Drupal modules such as the Organizing Bookmarks module. A publication repository, Armbruster and Laurent, (2010) state “can become an essential aspect of the management of their research process” and the scientist should “feel at ease” managing the editing workflow which could encompass, illustrations and data excerpts. The scientist could have a workspace within the repository.

Other suggestions from Armbuster and Laurent (2010) to enhance usage include the ease of submission to the repository. They suggest “simplified deposit forms with reduced mandatory fields, direct connection to major subject based repositories (Arxiv, PMC) where the paper may already have been referenced, availability of a “favorite co-authors” list, and eventually automatic metadata extraction from the document.”

Another idea proposed by Armbuster and Laurent is the generation of web pages  as a “presentation and communication tool for users of the repository.” The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, for instance, has the main department web page at but this page sits on top of the repository (The Language Archive) at As Armbuster and Laurent state, “When linked to a Content Management

System, an automated generation of web pages can be seamlessly integrated with a laboratory web site.” This could easily be accomplished with the designation of a home page in Drupal which is itself a content management system.


Hyun Hee Kim, Yong Ho Kim, (2008) “Usability study of digital institutional repositories”, Electronic Library, The, Vol. 26 Iss: 6, pp.863 – 881 – DOI:10.1108/02640470810921637

Karen Markey, Soo Young Rieh, Beth St. Jean, Jiyhun Kim, and Elizabeth Yakel, Census of institutional repositories in the United States: MIRACLE Project Research Findings, Washington, D.C.: Council on Library and Information Resources, 2007,

Romary, Laurent and Chris Armbruster (2010) Beyond Institutional Repositories. International Journal of Digital Library Systems 1(1) 44-61.

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