RSP Brings Expertise to Individual Repositories

16th January 2008, by

Other routes to UK repository community support explored

Following the success of its summer school, the JISC Repositories Support Project (RSP) is trying out new ways of offering expertise to repository managers and administrators on a somewhat smaller scale. Users of EPrints software were invited to consult an expert from the EPrints Development and Services team about their own repository issues at an 'open house' surgery.

The idea for the surgery was based on a popular feature of the regular EPrints training courses. During the hands-on repository development sessions, delegates have the chance to try new ideas on their own repository, with individual support from the trainers. This freeform approach was extended to the surgery to allow delegates to explore repository issues of their choice and fix repository problems with advice on-hand.

Three delegates from repository teams and JISC projects were each given individual two hour time slots. Two wanted to develop means of getting data in and out of repositories on a larger scale, a new feature now supported in version 3 of EPrints through the development of plugin applications.

One, who has already written an EPrints export plugin, wanted to explore questions relating to bulk import of items into an Image Bioinformatics Group repository. A second is building tools for semi-automatic migration/ transformation of objects between repositories (including EPrints, DSpace and Fedora). This led to a particular interest in the EPrints XML "raw" import/export.

Interoperability between repository software is expected to become more important as the number of repositories grows worldwide.

Another delegate wanted to fix more specific repository problems. Here, in the consultant's words, is the description and solution to one of those problems:

  • Erratic search behaviour - searching for one particular author gave ~30 matches; soon after the same search returned 0 results. Discovered two indexing process were running simulataneously and corrupting the index tables. Fixed and advised.

If this reads a bit like the report from a car service then that's not far wrong. This services-based approach to repository support conforms with the best-practice services mantra: call an expert and save yourself time and money. That's essentially what repository services are intended to provide, to get new repositories up and running faster, and to help make existing repositories more effective.

Feedback from delegates after the event has been good: "a very valuable and helpful experience". Tim Miles-Board, manager of EPrints Services, and expert-in residence for this surgery received special mention: "always very helpful and efficient and explains everything he is doing so every time I work with Tim I also learn a lot and can apply the knowledge later on to different issues or requests I have from my users."

Just one feature was missing according to delegates, the chance to meet other delegates. That's a problem with the schedule, but we should have anticipated that one. We knew already that repository administrators are a social bunch, something else we have learned from running EPrints training sessions, and RSP Briefing events.

There will be more surgeries, alongside a series of RSP regional repository briefings and other topical events. Watch this space

Steve Hitchcock, RSP EPrints representative


For further information contact RSP.

Alternatively, email RSP Support or phone 0845 257 6860.