Compass is an archive of Library news from 2005 - 2008. For the latest Library news check the Library Blogs.
Compass Newsletter Masthead
   Volume IV, Issue 3
February 2008   

The "institutional repository" rethought: Community Bibliography debuts

Imagine if you could uncover what anyone affiliated with Villanova University since its inception had written! This ambitious goal is the intent of the Community Bibliography project, recently undertaken by Falvey Memorial Library, which will be unveiled at a gala event on March 1.

Though initially focusing on current works by full-time faculty members, the Community Bibliography intends to be an inclusive database of searchable citations for works by all members of the University community since 1842 – faculty, students, staff, administrators, Augustinians and alumni.

In a parallel effort, the scholarly articles of faculty members will be collected and maintained in the Faculty Fulltext Collection of Villanova’s Digital Library. The Digital Library seeks to preserve unique materials and make them available on the Web through digitization, even partnering with others in this enterprise, as witnessed by the agreement signed last fall with the American Catholic Historical Society to digitize and preserve their publications.

These two parallel projects, Community Bibliography and Faculty Fulltext, have their roots in a movement that has recently emerged in academia to counter the commoditization of knowledge as intellectual property freely given away to a few corporations who control book and journal publishing, and, at the same time, to take advantage of new means of information sharing to promote scholarship.

The thoughts of most academics are intended to be shared, in the lab or classroom, of course, but also through publications. Today most written works are born digital because the computer is often the basic means for recording ideas or findings. Published works, therefore, largely begin in a digital form even if they end up in a printed text, and may be saved by the author in a variety of formats, for example, DVDs or file servers.

This may achieve a limited degree of preservation, but it does not make the text widely accessible and much that is still the property of the author is hidden from the academic community, or, worse, is lost forever. The Faculty Fulltext Collection of the Digital Library and the Community Bibliography allow these products of intellectual labor to be saved, described and made searchable on the Internet.

This effort to collect, preserve and make searchable faculty publications has been described as an “institutional repository.” An institutional repository also collects and collates data that may be of use to an institution or to others interested in what that entire community is “saying,” through analysis of individual and collective published contributions to scholarship. Although capturing published materials can be hard to achieve because many publications are under copyright, library professionals across the globe are at the cutting edge of this effort: cataloging and classifying those copyrighted and public domain documents and placing them into institutional repositories.

Through the Community Bibliography, the invaluable and unique content of Villanova University’s intellectual record will be preserved and made broadly accessible. The Community Bibliography, created to be a comprehensive database of citations of published works by alumni, Augustinians, staff and students, as well as by faculty, becomes truly unique and even more powerful by including works from the entire community.

And by building a Community Bibliography to complement the Digital Library’s Faculty Fulltext Collection, Falvey continues to rethink and expand the idea of the digital institutional repository, making it more comprehensive and accessible.

Contributed by Darren Poley, with Michael Foight and Alice Bampton