Repository administrators create a splash!

28th March 2008, by

On the 27 th March 2008 the RSP facilitated a half day event at SPLASH at the University of Surrey aimed specifically at repository managers who work with hosted or commercial software solutions. The idea behind the event was to allow people in this specific situation to come together to exchange views and opinions on working with commercial providers and to explore what, if anything, made their situation unique.

The programme kicked off with a case study presentation by Christine Daoutis from Surrey Scholarship Online- the slides from Christine's presentations are available here. Case studies are always a useful and well received element of RSP events and this presentation explored both specifics of their experiences of working with the Digital Commons software from Bepress, along with providing the wider contextual information about the approach Surrey have taken to installing and populating their institutional repository.

The remainder of the day was then devoted to various opportunities for networking and discussion between the participants. Two of the themes the group discussed are presented below in order to highlight some of the useful elements that emerged from the sessions.

Pros and cons of using hosted repository software

PROS

CONS

You don't have to engage with the tech stuff

You don't get the opportunity to engage with the tech stuff, which can be frustrating when you want more control

It makes the IT department happy

There is a lack of ability to batch upload and edit

You have known costs

Training costs are often hidden extras

It enables you to set up a live system very quickly

It can be difficult to adapt the software to your local culture

Minimal downtime

There is a general lack of support for multimedia items.

You can use a service level agreement

Manuals are lacking or incomplete

You get promotional material from the supplier

The promotional stuff (and sometimes the whole thing) is too US centric

Value for money?

Value for money?

 

Top tips - how to get the best out of using hosted repository software

  • Offer to be a reference site as giving back to the community allows you to negotiate on price.
  • Use mailing list and the community of other users of the software - if this does not exist think about creating it.
  • Engage with the supplier and always explain problems through proper dialogue.
  • Send the supplier feedback direct from users.
  • Use your purchasing departments to negotiate the costs.
  • Look at other systems and compare features.
  • Create a spec document - ask about flexibility and what other systems the software is compatible with.
  • Try and have a face to face direct meeting with the software rep at least once a year, in addition to attending any user group meetings.
  • Get a manual from the supplier.
  • Use a service level agreement.
  • Share problems on mailing lists in public - it gets results!
  • Create an exit strategy.

This exploratory themed event was well received both by the participants and the RSP. Those attending felt they had met others in the same boat as themselves and found it useful to compare notes with each other. The overarching finding of the session was that while some things are unique to those using hosted solutions, the bigger challenges that face us all remain the same - predominantly fostering culture change and getting people to use the repository once you have built it. Meanwhile, the RSP gained a useful insight into this specific sub-community within the repository landscape and further work with this group is planned with a repeat event likely in late 2008.

Contact

For further information contact RSP.

Alternatively, email RSP Support or phone 0845 257 6860.