The Repository Fringe, Edinburgh

I recently attended the Repository Fringe in Edinburgh (31st July – 1st August 2008, see, a two day event held in the grand Playfair Library in Edinburgh.

It was an interesting event, with two very clear highlights – the venue (the magnificent Playfair Library) and Dorothea Salo’s keynote.  The latter was both inspirational and realistic, presenting some of the ways in which repositories have ‘got it wrong’, some of the assumptions made about what repositories are or should be, and some of the limitations of the software currently in use.  Much of this might seem negative and indeed Dorothea presented a fairly bleak picture of the repository librarian’s lot – under resourced, not able to offer the services academics are asking for, limited by copyright hoops and the need for endless advocacy – yet there was hope, if we can heed the warnings from the keynote and start building services driven by user need.  Presentations from the Fringe are available from ERA and Dorothea Salo’s blog (Caveat Lector) is worth a read, as is the preprint of her forthcoming article Inkeeper at the Roach Motel.  Dorothea’s session on usability was also interesting and I’m certainly going to take a look at her recommended reads: Don’t Make Me Think and The Design of Everyday Things.

Some of the other sessions I attended were:

  • Ant Miller from the BBC providing a reality check on dealing with the complexities of Audio Visual Archives
  • Ben Partridge from the University of Derby offering a business-oriented approach to building learning object repositories (pay people to create the objects!)
  • Fred Howell on two interesting tools – PublicationsList, a tool for creating and managing publications lists online, and A.nnotate, a way of sharing annotations to word, html and pdf documents
  • Richard Jones on the Foresite project, a demonstrator which has generated ORE resource maps for journals and deposited them into a DSpace repository using SWORD.

The closing plenary by David De Roure outlined how repositories can learn from past mistakes and leverage some of the new and emerging web 2.0 technologies to aid their continued existence.

Some people have been blogging about the event:

Overall, the conference was interesting and once again demonstrated the various strands of activity going on within the repositories area, from the traditional ‘eprint’ to multimedia and learning object repositories.  It was a mix of developer and repository manager and touched on a range of issues.


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