Friday, April 03, 2009

Evolving role of the institutional repository breakout

I attended an interesting breakout session on the evolving role of the institutional repository in promoting library research support. Garret McMahon provided background about the Research Support System developed at Trinity College Dublin. The RSS is a web-based service allowing research staff to generate CVs and a researcher’s profile from information provided about their research activity. It is fully integrated with complementary systems in the university such as human resources and pushes information out to other services and systems including the institutional repository TARA. The research staff need only enter their publication and research activities once and the information is pushed out internally and externally.

Jessica Eustace, one of 4 Research Support Librarians outlined the kinds of strategies she employed to embed herself into the research process. For postgraduates she offers:

• Specialist training days on database tips and tricks
• Going into labs and assisting researchers on a one-to-one basis
• Drop-in sessions for Endnote queries

For principal investigators she provides:
• Researcher profiling
• Assisted deposit into the IR
• One-to-one training on using the RSS and IR

Both the RSS and institutional repository are promoted by newsletters and bulletins but it is advocacy at the level of individual researchers that has paid the most dividends in that the Research Support Librarian is seen to actively to engage with researchers and their needs. Embedding herself into the workflow for research profiling adds value to the RSS and provides a fuller picture of research activity while promoting output via the institutional repository. Not all institutions have the benefit of the kind of integrated system available at Trinity but getting into schools, faculties and departments and improving dialogue with researchers is a vital first step to understanding their needs and working towards a more holistic approach to improve library support for research. Institutional repositories have created additional work but have enabled librarians to assist in promoting research at our institutions. By adapting our role to meet evolving needs we can help to prevent librarians from becoming irrelevant which in Joseph Janes’ view is the greatest threat to the profession.

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