by Neil Jacobs
In recent years, universities and colleges have begun to think more carefully about the management of their intellectual output. Influenced by enlightened self-interest and prompted by the encouragement of funding and regulatory bodies, these higher education institutions are making greater efforts to showcase their research. One of the potential tools in their armoury is the repository, which allows digital objects to be managed locally and accessed globally. In the UK, the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) is investing some £13.8m over three years to make this a reality.
JISC's vision is to establish a network of digital resources and services to improve content use and curation. Through a significant investment programme, JISC will build on work on the 'Information Environment' undertaken by UKOLN. This has resulted in a national architecture that provides easier discovery of, and access to, digital content. However, significant development is still required in a number of areas, eg in preserving digital content.
A new JISC development programme will fund initiatives to develop the Information Environment and support digital repositories and preservation, including cross-searching facilities across repositories. It will also fund institutions to develop a critical mass of content, and will provide preservation solutions and advice for the development of repositories. The programme builds on existing JISC work, in particular the 'Digital Repositories' programme and the 'Supporting Digital Preservation and Asset Management in Institutions' programme.
The new programme comprises the following areas:
If these are the instruments, then what will be the outcomes? Firstly, institutional repository services will be created, enhanced and (perhaps most importantly) populated. It will be possible to search in increasingly sophisticated ways, based on a range of effective and practical interoperability standards. Such standards will also underpin preservation services, and universities and national bodies will share the responsibility for preservation. We will have a much clearer idea of how repositories should be used to support education and research. Pilots and demonstrators will illustrate the potential in this programme, and software and tools will make it practical.
It is anticipated that the programme will result in a range of benefits for universities and colleges, including an increased capability to manage intellectual property for education and research, and an infrastructure that will support the sector into the future.
Neil Jacobs, Joint Information Systems Committee, UK
Tel: +44 117 33 10772