Institutional Repositories Investigative Task Force

CARLI Staff Liaison: Elizabeth Clarage
CARLI Staff Liaison: Amy Maroso

Body to which the group reports: Governance Board

Background/Statement of need

An institutional repository (IR) serves as a central digital location for an institution to collect, preserve, and freely distribute institutional resources. As the use of IRs continues to expand nationally and globally, some CARLI member libraries are interested in ways to potentially leverage our robust consortial membership to:

  1. Reduce staffing needs on the individual library level;
  2. Consolidate technology and digital storage resources necessary to operate an IR;
  3. Have CARLI provide one point of service for IR needs within its membership; and
  4. Aid members in providing a service that they are not able to provide independently.

Some CARLI member libraries:

  • Find that they have drastically reduced staffing levels and IR positions are just not getting filled;
  • Find the time and resources to evaluate and manage the technology necessary to operate an IR is not feasible;
  • Believe that IRs are a service that CARLI could provide at scale; and
  • Believe the acquisition of Bepress and its Digital Commons IR platform by Elsevier provides the impetus to evaluate all available options for operating an institutional repository including a consortial solution.

Task Force charge

The IR Investigative Task Force will explore whether CARLI should operate an IR on behalf of its member institutions. As part of this investigation, the task force should:

  1. Identify a definition for a consortial IR;
  2. Conduct an environmental scan, particularly of other multi-institution-based IRs;
  3. Assess the existing IRs (platforms, inventories, and institutional guidelines) within the CARLI membership members’ repository structure and inventories;
  4. Investigate available software platforms, both open source and proprietary;
  5. Investigate migration issues that could arise moving current standalone IRs into a consortial setting;
  6. Determine if a consortial IR is feasible and what the structure of the IR might be; and
  7. Determine costs associated with the building and maintaining of an IR including what is necessary centrally and from members to construct an effective service.

Task Force composition

The task force should have a maximum of nine members from libraries that currently have IRs and from those libraries that are seeking to implement an IR. The chair of the task force should be someone with experience implementing and/or running an IR.


The task force is charged with only investigating and evaluating the possibilities of a CARLI administered IR. If the task force reaches a recommendation that CARLI should act as an IR provider, all the implementation, management, promotion, and support of the IR work must be completely self-supporting, including fiscal resources and staff. The task force cannot, in any way, point to a recommendation that interferes with the implementation of established, essential CARLI products and services such as the I-Share Next project.


A full report due to the CARLI Board at their March 2018 meeting.

Possible Task Force Recommendations at Conclusion of Term

One or more of several recommendations are possible, based on the outcome of the task force’s investigation:

  1. CARLI does not act as an IR provider for CARLI members at this time.
  2. CARLI acts as an IR provider for CARLI members.
  3. CARLI acts as a clearinghouse for information and education about IRs but not provide IR functionality for CARLI members.
  4. CARLI does not act as an IR provider, but helps to facilitate (e.g., provide meeting space, an email list, announcements) member libraries to pursue shared IR opportunities.
  5. CARLI acts as the procurement agent for an IR and offers the product to the members similar to brokered electronic resources.
  1. Specifications in a Memorandum of Understanding to which a group could respond, in which CARLI would act as a broker. As an example of such an arrangement in a library consortium, see