ALCTS Members Opinions on Repositories

Amy S. Jackson, University of New Mexico

In the fall of 2010, ALCTS began to address the problem of providing persistent and organized access to an increasing number of publications, papers, conference presentations, reports, and more created by and for ALCTS members. In order to assess current ALCTS members’ attitudes toward and use of institutional repositories, as well as interest in establishing an ALCTS repository, a thirteen question survey was distributed to ALCTS members through Survey Monkey during the month of April 2011. Turn out for the survey (n=232), indicated a strong interest in the use of institutional repositories among ALCTS members.

The first part of the survey assessed current use of and access to institutional repositories by respondents. 44 percent (n=101) of respondents indicated that they use a repository monthly, while nearly 73 percent (n=166) of respondents reported use of a repository at least annually. The divide was equal between access (n=115) and no access (n=114) at the respondent’s home institution. Most respondents (n=145) indicated that they do not have any publications available through a repository, while 28 percent (n=63) have between one and ten publications available, and 8 percent (n=18) have over eleven publications available through any type of repository. Lastly, 11 percent of respondents (n=24) indicated that they were managers of an institutional repository.

The second section of the survey assessed respondents’ attitudes towards repositories. A total of 54 percent (n=98) of respondents indicated that publishers’ copyright policies were very significant factors when considering uploading a work to a repository, while time required to describe and upload a work were moderately significant for 58 percent of respondents (n=135). When asked where the respondent preferred to find a scholarly work, answers did not indicate a strong preference for the author’s home institutional repository, an ALCTS repository, an ALA repository, or a disciplinary repository. However, 67 percent of respondents (n=155) strongly preferred that a work was available through some type of repository.

The next set of questions asked specifically about an ALCTS repository. The majority of respondents felt that it was critical that an ALCTS repository have the ability to centralize and preserve ALCTS publications in perpetuity (59 percent, n=137); make available types of ALCTS materials that have not been made available through the traditional publishing process, including presentations, audio files, and video files (54 percent, n=125); and make research easily accessible (59 percent, n=137). Additionally, a strong majority of respondents agreed that an ALCTS repository should host ALCTS peer-reviewed publications (95 percent, n=220), ALCTS policies and documents (91 percent, n=211), and ALCTS produced reports (92 percent, n=214). When asked if ALCTS should mandate that all works published in ALCTS venues be submitted to the repository, 73 percent of respondents (n=163) agreed with a mandate. However, this question also elicited the most comments from respondents (30 respondents provided comments). Comments included suggested details about the mandate, difficulties of mandating participation, and suggestions to encourage rather than mandate. As for who should have the ability to upload to an ALCTS repository, 85 percent of respondents (n=188) felt that ALCTS members should have the ability, while 39 percent (n=85) felt that access should be open to anyone, regardless of membership status.

These survey results indicate strong support of institutional and disciplinary repositories by ALCTS members. Look for news later this year from the ALCTS Office regarding next steps toward establishing an ALCTS institutional repository.