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Real Solutions at Open Repositories 2011

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One of the meetings I look the most forward to every year is the Open Repositories conference, which was recently held in Austin, Texas on June 6-11, 2011.

Welcome to Open Repositories 2011
Welcome to Open Repositories 2011

One of the reasons that I enjoy this meeting so much is that is one of the most international meetings that I have the opportunity to participate in, with attendees this year from over twenty countries.  This meeting provides a variety of ways to participate, including posters, panels and papers, 24×7 presentations (24 slides in no more than seven minutes), user group meetings around specific tools (Fedora, DSpace, EPrints), and a developer’s challenge.

Participants include those very new to the community and the most senior, technical and curatorial, humanities and the sciences, and representatives from libraries, university faculties, and vendors.  It is one of the best places to become grounded in the issues of both scholarly communication and in digital curation.

The top reason I have for enjoying this meeting is that it is about work.  Real work and solutions that people can show and share. Among the highlights:

  • Chempound at the University of Cambridge, is a prototype linked data discovery/representation tool for chemical calculations and molecular models.
  • Indiana University’s  IU Scholarworks team is working with the Ketterson Lab to fully customize community and metadata parts of DSpace to manage and deliver 20+-years (so far) of ornithology research.
  • The University of York has been working a Discovery Viewer with Acuity Unlimited, which has developed a vocabulary service which exposes Getty ULAN data as RDF SKOS.  This aims for the service are to assist in cataloging process, by drawing terms from a Getty vocabulary, enriching metadata by with additional creator data, and enabling the improved discovery of relationships between terms.  The services will be query-able by SPARQL or iTQL over HTTP GET/POST.
  • OpenSky is the persistent open access institutional repository supporting UCAR, NCAR, and UCP, extending free and open access to the scholarship across the three organizations. Among its more interesting features is that it informs authors about their rights when publishing by taking advantage of the SHERPA/RoMEO API which provides access to the policies of over 700 publishers.
  • LOCAH is a project at the University of Bath to make the Archives Hub ( — an aggregation of archival descriptions from archive repositories — and Copac ( — merged library catalogues of libraries national data services in the UK — available as structured linked data.
  • The University of Hong Kong took on reputation management in their DSpace HKU Hub repository when they discovered that some of the faculty members were stunned at idea that they had an online presence that they did not control, or that they had an online digital footprint at all.  The service leverages SCOPUS, Web of Science and PubMed publication data through a harvest, pulls in data from APIs from external and internal university databases about grants, awards, and student theses, and provides interfaces for deduping, ranking, and customization of faculty pages.
Walk this Way to the OR 2011 Developer Challenge
Walk this Way to the OR 2011 Developer Challenge

Two training initiatives were of particular interest.  The Repository Support Project ( provides face-to-face training, and high-profile, high-impact services, including extensive day-workshops and consultancy visits.  Their training covers topics from assessment to data curation to incorporating a repository into organizational policies and culture, and much more.

The University of Cambridge CUPID project undertook a scoping study to identify issues for faculty: managing files, storage and backup, data sharing, preservation and re-use, existing guidance and training, or lack thereof. The primary concerns cross all disciplines, but discipline-specific language and examples were needed for training. It was suggested that they run preservation training for PhD students and post-docs.  These findings initiated the DataTrain project (, to provide data management training for dept of Archaeology and Department of Social Anthropology, in collaboration with Archaeology Data Service (ADS).  They are preparing to release shared versions of their training tools.

I could go on and on about the many other presentations, including a great presentation on the NDIIPP-supported Memento Project (  Jim Jagielski from Apache gave the opening plenary on the importance of open source community participation, and Cliff Lynch from CNI gave the closing plenary, during which he uttered the memorable statement: “We should never look at preservation time frames like ‘perpetuity’ or “eternity’ or ‘life of the republic’.” Words to consider!

And I haven’t even talked about the Developer Challenge: The “Repositories As A Service (RAAS)” Android app?  The Distributed Research Object Creator? A PivotViewer Zoom interface for images in repositories? Or a Kinect gestural interface for a repository, anyone?  The creativity of the participants was unlimited.

The conference site will be posting all the presentations, including mine on the National Digital Stewardship Alliance and Recollection:

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