[OAI-implementers] local/distributed vs global/unified archives

Hussein Suleman hussein at cs.uct.ac.za
Sat Mar 8 02:46:26 EST 2008

hi Atanu

this is a good question that i will try to answer, based on a fading 
memory ...

in the 90s we had a few large subject repositories around the world 
(like arXiv) but they were mostly not (financially) sustainable as they 
were run by poor scholarly societies, there was a silo effect (with the 
owners of data trying to provide services as well) and the model simply 
did not replicate to all disciplines (we were stuck with a handful of 
poster child repositories) ... in some senses, this "crisis" in subject 
repositories led to the Santa Fe meeting of the OAI.

to address especially the sustainability problem, open access advocates 
began to recommend institutional repositories rather than subject 
repositories because scholarship is a primary function of institutions 
and if anything will be here hundreds of years from now it will be the 
institutions of higher learning.

the core idea of OAI-PMH was therefore to bridge between sustainable 
repositories (e.g., IRs, although the term did not exist back then) and 
high quality service providers (e.g., those hosted by scholarly societies)

so OAI-PMH is supposed to give us the best of both worlds. it is 
tempting to believe that global subject repositories will be a better 
model, but this did not work in the 90s. maybe it will work now (maybe 
scholarly societies, research agencies, etc. have deeper pockets now) - 
we dont know for sure - but who is willing to invest a lot of money and 
many years on redoing an experiment that failed in many instances not 
too long ago?


hussein suleman ~ hussein at cs.uct.ac.za ~ http://www.husseinsspace.com

Atanu Garai/Lists wrote:
> Dear Colleagues
> This question is very basic. Institutions all over the world are 
> developing their own repositories to archive papers written by staffs. 
> On the other hand, it is very much feasible to develop thematic and 
> consortia repositories wherein authors all over the world can archive 
> their papers very easily. Both the approaches have their own pros and 
> cons. However, having few big thematic (e.g. subject based) and/or 
> consortia (e.g. Indian universities archive) repositories is more 
> advantageous than maintaining hundreds of thousands small IRs, taking 
> cost, management, infrastructure and technology considerations. 
> Moreover, knowledge sharing and preservation becomes easier across the 
> participating individuals and institutions in large IRs. If this 
> advantages are so obvious, it is not understandable why there is so much 
> advocacy for building IRs in all institutions?
> Thank you for reflecting on this issue.
> Best
> *Atanu Garai
> *Online Networking Specialist
> Globethics.net
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