Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width

It's a new academic year and there's a New Head of School in charge. He's visiting all the research groups and so when he turns up to our group we want to have a good display of our research on show, and it seems that if the recent posters presented at conferences and workshops would be good. We've decided to put them all in the repository (those that weren't already in there) and then they can be displayed on a plasma screen.

But, he's also not had the chance to become au fait with the repository or with EPrints yet, and I wanted to try and give some impression of the size of the collection that it represents. So I have created a 'thumbnail wall' of all the files stored in it and I'll get it printed as big as I can for display. There's an interactive version linked to the image above - its in PDF and each thumbnail is linked to the associated record in the repository. It's a bit big - there's over 4000 page images there! The background image between the documents is sky and clouds - for "blue sky research".

I'm going to contact some artists to see if they can help me develop a more interesting and perhaps practical way of looking at large collections!


  1. Leslie-
    I was wondering if you would help me with a question. I am a librarian and so get asked questions all the time. This one was deceptively simple, yet hard to nail down. The question was - "Why would you create a repository?"
    I thought they were after uses of repositories - like what you described in your blog for your conference posters. But then as I began to look into it I discovered this is a much broader question. There is the idea that there are "uses" for a repository. These are best described in specific use cases. But then I began to ponder it as an abstract idea. Of all the uses there are specific functionality that you are addressing with a repository. My impression is that one should be able to list the repository utility functions or justifications, and so be able to assign each justification a score to determine the focus of a specific repository.

    For example: Repository Justifications:

    Each item can be scored 1-3, 1 being low, 3 being high. The scale describes the usage focus

    Your Poster Repository:
    Storage -1
    Structure - 3
    Access - 1
    Process - 3

    I am not sure I have all the Justifications abstracted. I was wondering if you have read anything or know of some information I can read that would go more into this idea?

    Morgen Kimbrell

  2. I'm not sure I understand your set of abstractions, or what they are abstractions of.

    I guess I take the view that a repository is a good place to collect and look after material for later reuse, where we haven't yet finished exploring what that later reuse might be.

    The OAIS model is really just a rephrasing of that model (data comes in, data gets processed, data goes out). There are different ways of modeling the transformations that can occur on the data - EPrints has import, export and conversion plugins, others describe "asset actions" or "behaviours" and "disseminators". It all amounts to pretty much the same thing - transforming a collection of well-marshalled data into something ore useful to our purposes.

    Our repository is used for Open Access primarily (that's a high score for Access) but also for research management and research assessment and marketing and promotion. I'm not sure where they come in your classification.

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