Sunday, 13 April 2008

Cow Tipping and All That Jazz

Last week (being the week after That Conference) I was able to escape the country and visit fellow blogging repositarian Dorothea Salo in Wisconsin. Despite warnings of freezing weather and record-breaking snowfalls, I arrived at Dane County airport to the very English sight of grey clouds and heavy drizzle. Dorothea introduced me to Kristin Eschenfelder who is a researcher in social informatics and we all spent a very pleasant evening talking social epistemology and information flows in open source software networks and at Indian restaurant.

The following day I had the pleasure of sitting in on a MINDS management meeting (MINDS is the DSpace Institutional repository of Wisconsin University). Despite the fact that Southampton and Wisconsin have different educational and funding contexts at the national level and different university structures and management at the institutional level, it was very clear that the challenges and activities of repository management are identical for host and guest. There really ought to be an international repository managers organisation, independent of the software platforms and the agendas. Neither of us was able to be at the Repository Managers session at OR08 (Dorothea didn't have the funding to attend the conference and I was too involved in conference administration during the event) but I hope that there might be some movement towards that in the aftermath of the conference.

Then it was on to Chicago (even more rain) where I had been invited to speak about EPrints at a CARLI meeting (Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois), alongside Tim Donohue (DSpace Committer) and Sarah Shreeve (IDEALS repository manager). Together with Dorothea, Tim and Sarah have been developing BibApp - a bibliography managing application that works alongside repositories. BibApp was one of the finalists in the OR08 Developer Challenge, but this was my first chance to get a close-up look at the software. Previously it had been DSpace-specific software, but in its latest version it integrates with EPrints via SWORD. It contains some potentially very useful functionality for librarians - it extracts lists of publishers from authors' bibliographies and alerts them to those that have the most permissive Open Access policies as stated in the ROMEO database. The intriguing thing from my POV is that BibApp is deliberately implemented as a separate application that works alongside repositories, but how much of it can be achieved inside a repository? What is the best location for repository-enhancing functionality? Where are services located, and who takes responsibility for them? More of this later I think!

PS If you're wondering about the title of this post, Cow Tipping is a rural Wisconsin pass time and All That Jazz is a song from the musical "Chicago".

1 comment:

  1. Just to reiterate you're call for an international repository managers org: I really liked the Crowd Vine set up for OR08 (That Conference)

    Pictures, intros, interests, friends, networking...all good in my book, already an excellent basis for an organization me thinks!