Reengineering the Institutional Repository to Engage Users

All too many institutions jumped on the institutional repository bandwagon, only to find they had installed it… and no one came. So what do you do about a service in which you’ve already invested time and effort (and committed hardware), that your users couldn’t care less about? Do you invest more time and effort into marketing? Do you throw more and more person-hours into meetings with faculty, either in groups or one-on-one? Beg, borrow, plead, “we’ll do it all for you”? Or do you stop and approach the problem in a different way, by trying to figure out how your users do their work, and what it is they really need and want (and why the current system doesn’t meet those needs).

This session touches on the initial situation at the University of Rochester, explore the ethnographic methods we used to address that last question, and how we responded. We delve into the issues of investment and effort ($) to break with the past and start again. For example, the migration process was no small task: we are very forthcoming about this. We also comment on what it takes to run an Open Source program (there is no free lunch, as we all know). Finally we cover how our new repository has changed our interaction with faculty and graduate students, and expanded the role the library now plays in our faculty and graduate students’ everyday work practices.

We believe in laughing while you learn, so come prepared for a fun, informative session and lots of lively interaction.

An ALCTS webcast

Who Should Attend

Anyone with an interest in the topic can benefit from this session and is welcome to participate.


Nathan Sarr is a senior software engineer at the University of Rochester. He is a graduate of the Software Engineering Program (2002) at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He has worked on large scale payroll software and taught software engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology. He is the creator of the IR+ institutional repository software system and currently manages the IR+ software project.

Suzanne Bell got her MLS in a galaxy long ago and far away (actually the University of Buffalo), and has reinvented herself several times since. Since 1998, she has been the librarian for Economics and Data at the University of Rochester, and since 2003 has been the lead "Projects Coordinator" (a title she made up) for the University's institutional repository, UR Research. She also teaches a course entirely online for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and is the author of The Librarian's Guide to Online Searching, 2nd ed.) In her life outside of work, she has been known to "sing choruses in public" with the Off-Monroe Players, Rochester's Gilbert & Sullivan Company.


How to Register

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Tech Requirements

Computer with Internet access (high-speed connection is best) and media player software. Headphones recommended.

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For all other questions or comments related to the webinars, contact Julie Reese, ALCTS Events Manager at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5034 or