Institutional Repository Investigative Task Force Meeting: November 15, 2017

Conference call

Members Present: Paul Blobaum, Governors State University; Cheri Cameron, Parkland College; John Dorr, chair, Northwestern University; Stephanie Davis-Kahl, Illinois Wesleyan University; Jonathan Nabe, Southern Illinois University Carbondale; Ken Orenic, College of DuPage; Kyle Rimkus, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Alexis Rogers, Lincoln Land Community College; Laurie Sauer, Knox College

CARLI Staff Present: Elizabeth Clarage, Anne Craig, Amy Maroso


The task force has a folder on Google Drive.  The URL was shared with task force members.


The Chair called the meeting to order at 9:03 am, and members of the group introduced themselves. In her introduction, Anne Craig noted that a shared, consortial repository was a common request communicated to her at her feedback sessions around the state, even before the Elsevier acquisition of bepress.

The Chair reviewed the charge to the committee, asking if there was additional context from the CARLI Director. She reported that several libraries had lost staff positions during the 736 days without a state budget, and when staff positions became available, it was difficult to make the case for an institutional repository (IR) support position when core services (e.g., circulation) were not adequately supported. Anecdotally, staff positions were hit hard by the state budget impasse. It is difficult to pay attention to an important endeavor like a repository in such an environment. She also noted that the definition of IR differs greatly from director to director, and that there are great differences in need from library to library. The Board also discussed the lack of capacity among CARLI staff or the CARLI budget to take on a large project such as a consortial repository; if the task force determines that a consortial repository is preferred, the solution would need to be funded by CARLI institutions. With the RFP imminent for a new ILS, a consortial IR could not divert from the ongoing work to engage a new ILS. Anne also mentioned GeoPortal, a parallel project of the Big Ten Academic Alliance ( , which could be an example for us. Elizabeth noted that an IR at a community college differs from that at a research institution, but there was interest across board members in discussing the possibility of a consortial IR. There is representation of a variety of institutions on the task force in order to capture all the viewpoints.

One member asked about the budget question - would all members pay more to be CARLI members in order to support a consortial IR? This would be the Board’s decision, but one solution would be that the people who would use the consortial IR would provide funding and staffing (broadly defined). CARLI is less inclined to invest in major equipment purchases as well.

Another member asked about why CARLI is less inclined to purchase equipment? There are cloud solutions available that provide space without buying the containers to maintain and support. The task force would need to make a compelling argument for whatever option we recommend.

Another member asked how detailed we need to be with our recommendations - specific platforms, or a range of options provided to CARLI for an implementation phase? Our charge is investigation into models, so selection of platform would come after our information seeking. Our questions might be informed by CARLI’s investment in equipment and capacity for maintenance and support.

The Chair reviewed the charge in full, noting that our work is mainly information gathering and exploring the current landscape. Our recommendation will drive questions of feasibility, cost and structure. He proposed dividing up the tasks in order to best prepare for our in-person meeting in December.

One member noted that #6 seemed vague (“Determine if a consortial IR is feasible and what the structure of the IR might be”). Anne stated that this particular point came out of a Board discussion that focused on how materials would be branded/identified as belonging to a specific institution. Identity within a consortial is key to recognizing each individual institution’s contribution. How we define consortial IR is key to answering this question conceptually; technical considerations are another question completely. Should we query the membership to see how many members would be interested in a consortial IR? Yes, a survey would be part of the environmental scan (task #2).

Another member asked about task #3 (“Assess the existing IRs (platforms, inventories, and institutional guidelines) within the CARLI membership members’ repository structure and inventories”). This would be a survey of existing work in the state - size of IRs, what platforms are being used, how current IRs are being used - not usability/user experience, backend operations.

Amy offered CARLI’s assistance using their instance of SurveyMonkey to conduct our surveys/environmental scan.

A member asked if there were any assessment of CONTENTdm - is it being used by CARLI members, etc. The issue with CONTENTdm is that it is not a IR; there is no option for a user to upload their own work, and institutions are responsible for preserving their own content in CONTENTdm. CONTENTdm is still actively used by members of CARLI; it will not be going away if we move forward with a consortial IR. Anne noted that CARLI’s CONTENTdm contributes into the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). Discussing what we have learned from the CONTENTdm implementation/maintenance might be helpful for our discussions regarding platform.

Another member suggested we also investigate different needs across institutions - content, staffing, funding, etc. There was general agreement that this is an important element to our considerations. There was a suggestion during the directors’ listening sessions to create separate IRs for different types of institutions, such as community colleges or.   LIBRAS ( was mentioned.

We will discuss further task #1 (“Identify a definition for a consortial IR”) at our December meeting. There was a suggestion to form a definition to include on the survey to get reactions from respondents, and there was also a suggestion to ask for definitions from respondents in order to best capture the varying ideas of the definition from the member institutions.

We agreed to expand the language of task #4 to include services as well as platforms.


  • The task force will create one survey for the membership to gather information related to tasks #2 (Conduct an environmental scan) and #3 (Assess the existing IRs (platforms, inventories, and institutional guidelines) within the CARLI membership members’ repository structure and inventories).  The survey will contain skip logic so that all members may respond, but if they do not currently have an IR, the would not see questions that pertain to current use, etc.
  • Expand the language of task #4 (Investigate available software platforms, both open source and proprietary) to include services as well as platforms.
  • At the December meeting, the task force will further discuss task #1 (Identify a definition for a consortial IR).

Tasks Assigned

Task force members volunteered to begin work on the following tasks and will report on their progress at the December meeting:

  • #1 - Identify a definition for a consortial IR
    • Amy will start a document in our Google folder for task members to begin brainstorming.
  • #2 - Conduct an environmental scan, particularly of other multi-institution-based IRs
    • John will create a spreadsheet as a place to gather this information in one location.
  • #2 - Conduct an environmental scan
    • Kyle Rimkus and Stephanie Davis-Kahl will draft a survey for CARLI members. The survey may also include a query on the definition of a consortial IR (Task #1).
  • #3 - Assess the existing IRs (platforms, inventories, and institutional guidelines) within the CARLI membership members’ repository structure and inventories
    • Ken Orenic and Jonathan Nabe will create a spreadsheet with information they gather from members websites.
  • #4 - Investigate available software platforms [and services], both open source and proprietary
    • John Dorr will create a spreadsheet as a place to gather this information in one location.
  • Tasks #5, #6, and #7 will be discussed in the future.

Next Meeting

In-person at the CARLI Office on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 from 10:00am - 3:00pm. Please let Amy Maroso know if you will need a hotel room.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:04 am.

Respectfully submitted,
Stephanie Davis-Kahl, Illinois Wesleyan University
Reporter for the day