I don't think that Dorothea's intention was to impose a one-size-fits-all characterization of all repository-workers - rather to see a fair representation of her own experience when others seemed to be ignoring it. I don't feel as if I am a repository rat exactly because my activities seem to have few rat-like characteristics, and many of my repository colleagues don't seem to be rats either. But my colleagues aren't exactly like me either. I seem to occupy a particular niche in the repository ecology, and they too are adapted to their own environments. So on the plane back from SPARC DR2008 I started to wonder about the different characteristics of that ecology, and the kinds of animals - rat and non-rat - that had evolved within it.
|Solitary or social||Some animals hunt in packs, co-ordinating their activities (lions, raptors), where others operate by themselves (rats, squirrels).||Do you work with a teams of subject librarians, or are you left to work by yourself?|
|Wild or domesticated||Some animals fit into and contribute to human organisations (dogs, horses), whereas others operate on the edge (cats) or totally outside the structure (foxes, wolves).||Are you involved in institutional committees, consulted by management and is your repository a core service?|
|Hunter or scavenger||Some animals actively search out sources of food for the kill, whereas others eat whatever is left around, or whatever is offered to them.||Do you search out material that is suitable for deposit by looking through Web of Science or by interviewing faculty?|
|Preener or sloven?||Some animals preen themselves (birds) or others (chimpanzees) obsessively.||Do you have strict QA standards that you apply to depositors' material?|
|Valued or vermin||Many animals are known as hoarders or collectors of food. Some are pampered (hamster), persecuted (rat) or tolerated (squirrel).||How do you feel about your role? This is more about professional esteem, than observable traits.|
(I don't claim that this is a comprehensive view of the repository world - to be more general I could have started out with the essential question "Do you have a backbone?" )