Recent Events

Institutional Repositories

The law schools at Duke and Yale have two of the most successful institutional repositories in North America.  This session featured presentations by representatives from each of these institutions: Julian Aiken from Yale and Hollie White from Duke.

Julian began by defining a repository as a service that brings together all of a university’s research under a single umbrella, with the goal of preserving and providing access to that research.  He said that a repository is not just a bunch of professors dumping old stuff into a box (although that is not a bad analogy). Building a repository is one of the best things a library can do for its institution. 

The decision to build a repository at Yale was made in 2003, and the response to the repository has been very positive.  The main content is faculty works, but the repository has been opened to students, librarians, and staff.  A major problem was permissions: they assumed they had to request permission for every item they wanted to put into the repository, but when a professor suggested that they could put things in and only take them out if requested, that was a breakthrough. They do not automatically add works published by commercial publishers or university presses. Recently, a more proactive approach has been taken, and permission is being actively sought to archive works.  The Sherpa/Romeo website has been helpful in this  effort.

Recently the repository was redesigned in response to a need for improvements. There was a lack of buzz about the repository, little metadata, and the website design was poor. Initially, only 2 professionals were adding new articles, but once some student helpers began to help, the rate of growth greatly increased. Abstracts were added to all papers, which led to an immediate improvement in discoverability.  A permanent link to the repository was put on the front page of the library’s website, and a marketing campaign was begun. An exhibit of artifacts for the library was created, and articles were inserted into university news media..

The results of the improvements and marketing campaign were increased usage of the repository and a global reach: search logs show access from 168 countries.  There were over 41,000 visits to the repository in 2010-2011, and it has played a significant role in publicizing the law school. It won the AALL 2013 Innovation in Technology Award. The greatest role that a repository plays is in building a community.


Hollie White followed with a detailed view of the work processes in maintaining the Duke Law School repository.  The repository is maintained using the BEPress open access scholarly publishing system.

The Duke Law School has had a repository for faculty scholarship since 2005. It also contains content from 9 student-run journals. There are a total of 9,778 papers to date in the repository, There have been 2.5 million full text downloads, many of which can be attributed to the extensive metadata that is added to each record. Every piece of content must be scholarly.

The workflow for adding materials generally follows this procedure:

  1. Investigation to find material. Scheduled bibliography updates are done twice a year. They search for papers in Westlaw, Hein, etc. and then ask the faculty for copies if they are not already included in the repository. Drafts are added on request and attempts are made to keep them up to date. The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) is also used to find faculty works. 
  2. Metadata creation. Names, keywords, and other subject metadata are added. All faculty names are controlled, based on e-mail addresses.
  3. Quality control. Public pages in the repository are compared with a PDF print of the published article to make sure it is laid out correctly.

Future plans include adding historical faculty publications to the repository and linking videos and images to scholarship.

Don Hawkins
CIL 2014 Blogger and Blog Coordinator
Editor, Personal Archiving: Preserving Our Digital Heritage

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