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What goes in an IR? 28 January 2009

Leslie Carr, Repositories vs Learning Object Repositories, RepositoryMan, January 27, 2009.

I got into a bit of an argument on the JISC-REPOSITORIES list yesterday, about whether general repositories (EPrints, DSpace, Fez etc) could take on the functions of a bespoke learning object repository (e.g. Intralibrary). My position is that a general repository is made to be adapted – you should be able to change the schema and the services to adapt to local requirements, but the contrary position is that a learning object repository is just too different and specialised.

We’ll see. The EdSpace project at Southampton is running a learning resources repository based on EPrints, but they are experimenting with the nature of a learning object repository by introducing open access practices and sensibilities …

However, the discussion got me thinking about the limits of plasticity inherent in an open source repository such as EPrints (or DSpace etc). …

In theory you can adapt your repository so far in the direction of any particular agenda that you could encompass all the needs and requirements of users concerned with that agenda. However, that may require an awful lot of effort – or just more understanding and insight than you have time to achieve. …

This does put some constraints on the amount of the terrain (agendas and services) that your repository’s perimeter can encompass. So perhaps a way forward is to cheat by redefining the problem in terms of something that the repository can already do. I’ve already mentioned that EdSpace are getting results by making the “educational resources” problem look more like “Open Access + preservation”. This approach seems to be working in other areas as well – scientific data (eCrystals), archiving fine arts (KULTUR). …

http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/2009/01/what-goes-in-ir.html

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