Scholarly communication librarians (and our colleagues) often tout institutional repositories as the best place for authors to keep their work safe and accessible. Yet, more than 4 years after the publication of Dorothea Salo’s infamous article, “Innkeeper at the Roach Motel,” another former librarian is pointing out that while work uploaded to IRs is secure, it is oftentimes undiscoverable by the public.
Before I go any further, I should clarify that the IUScholarWorks team has identified and addressed our own discoverability problems long ago. Our metadata is regularly indexed and is fully findable by Google Scholar. We also have staff hard at work on some of the usability and product awareness issues raised below. This post is merely intended to serve as a conversation starter among librarians.
Over on the MmITS blog, Louise Morrison has written a provocative post highlighting several problems that often plague users who try to find content in IRs:
- Lack of discoverability via Google and Google Scholar
- Poorly conceived IR search tools
- Users are oblivious to the existence of IRs (and hence they cannot find content therein)
- Subject repositories don’t exist for every subject
While I can’t speak to all the points raised by Louise, I find the metadata interoperability issue intriguing. Is Dublin Core a poor choice for an IR metadata standard, given that Google Scholar uses a different approved metadata scheme? Should we change our standards to fit with common practice, or hold tight to best practice?
Jenn Riley (Head, Carolina Digital Library and Archives*), in her keynote speech at the 2011 Australian Committee on Cataloging Seminar, suggested that as far as metadata goes, libraries should become integrated, rather than carving out a niche (Maclean, 2011)—and I would agree.
What do you think? Common practice or best practice? And how would you suggest we tackle building more user-friendly search tools for the major IR platforms?
* Full disclosure: Riley was my former supervisor at IU’s Digital Library Program in 2007.