Redefining “Institutional Repository”: The Quiet Revolution

Earlier this summer, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an eye-catching article on digital repositories, using the University of Nebraska’s outstanding repository as its main example, as well as highlighting IDEALS at the University of Illinois and Harvard’s DASH repository. The Chronicle titled this article “Digital Repositories Foment a Quiet Revolution in Scholarship.” The revolution, we are given to understand, is that institutional repositories (or IRs) are finding their greatest successes in providing access to a previously untapped wealth of knowledge. And it’s a quiet revolution because these resources aren’t necessarily the most flashy — they’re the so-called grey literature (unpublished papers produced by institutes or research centers, conference proceedings, etc.) and the unique materials held by an institution that are not duplicated in the way that traditional library holdings are. An IR can provide global access to materials that might otherwise stay hidden in someone’s file cabinet — that is a revolutionary concept! Here at Northeastern, our Archives and Special Collections department has developed digital collections that spotlight its unique materials. And IRis, our digital archive of Northeastern’s intellectual output, provides access to materials that might otherwise remain unseen. We are actively developing these and other digital library services in order to expand the global reach of our collections. I read this Chronicle article and thought, someday I’d like Northeastern to be highlighted as a shining example of how digital repositories can change the way we gain access to information. So, let’s take on the quiet revolution and make some noise! What kinds of material would you like to see in IRis, in our online archival collections, and in our growing digital library?

1 thought on “Redefining “Institutional Repository”: The Quiet Revolution”

  1. How about more biographical archives pertaining to famous writers, artists, film directors, and the like. I personally enjoy researching this kind of stuff, but it could make a great resource for students who have projects to do or papers to write, also.

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