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Proposal: Libraries

Does the topic of the organisation of digital libraries/deposits of research papers belong to this site? (Like http://arxiv.org or http://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/ for a specific researcher community or institute's and national depots?) It's a rapidly developing area, and there should be many questions to discuss. (Some research institutes in some countries or some researcher communities are not yet participating actively in giving open-acccess to their work in digital form.)

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    The potential Libraries site should include professional archival work in general (not just digital archives). Although the Library and Archives communities have differences there is considerable cross over from my perspective. In some places they are institutionally linked also, for example Library and Archives Canada. – moberley Jan 31 '11 at 4:36
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    What you're talking about for research papers are called an 'Institutional Repository' (IR) or a 'Discipline Repository' depending on if it's just for an organization, or for a discipline (eg, arxiv) – Joe Feb 3 '11 at 1:49
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    I should've also remembered -- there's another proposal for Digital Curation, where this topic would obviously belong : area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/24094/digital-curation – Joe Feb 4 '11 at 22:33
  • @Joe: Thanks for the link. I didn't know the word "curation". – imz -- Ivan Zakharyaschev Feb 5 '11 at 0:00
  • @imz : a lot of people don't, and if it's badly explained, they think it's a synonym for 'preservation', but curation is more hands-on, as you continue to add value to the items in your care. See : jisc.ac.uk/publications/briefingpapers/2006/… – Joe Feb 5 '11 at 2:15
  • @Joe: Thanks a lot for the explanation! – imz -- Ivan Zakharyaschev Feb 5 '11 at 2:48
  • @imz : it looks like the 'digital curation' proposal failed, but the 'digital preservation' one is now in commitment phase : area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/39787 – Joe Apr 26 '12 at 23:36
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Agreed. It should be expanded to encompass archiving theory.

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I'm really torn on this for a few reasons:

  • Archives are not libraries. They have completely different mandates; they both store information, but archives are focused on preservation, while libraries are focused on usage of the items, and will weed items that aren't of interest to their community.

  • The definition was set, and over 300 people committed to the definition; if you change the scope, people should have a chance to drop their commitment. (ie, we don't want another Database (Professionals|Administrators) swap happening; although, in this case, we're broadening the definition, not narrowing it, so it's not quite as bad, but we don't want 10 or 20 people making the decision for 300+ people.)

  • There are a number of loosely linked disciplines in archiving that aren't related to libraries at all. (eg, I work in science data archiving; digital libraries and archives interest me from the technology side of things, but it has nothing to do with most libraries; my interest in libraries comes from being a member of a Friends of the Library group and volunteering in running programs at my local public library)

Personally, I think the community should decide -- once the beta goes up, if people are accepting of questions about:

  • Archiving related technology (eg, OODT, LOCKSS, iRODS)
  • Records management
  • Classification theory
  • Ontology/thesaurus design
  • FRBR / FRAD / RDA

.. then we can broaden the definition. We just need to get the site up, and people to ask those questions, so we can see how the group reacts.

The biggest problem that I actually have isn't so much this question directly, but that there's another question about merging the 'books' proposal ... and I see these two suggestions as being conflicting; we either try to move towards more professionals, and even maybe the academic library/information science theorists ... or we go towards the general reader community. We might be able to pull off one or the other, but I don't think both are a good idea ... and I see a higher affinity with the 'books' proposal.

  • All that I know is that my local public library has an archives with everything in the same catalogue. Granted it's a small town, and there isn't anyone with a library degree on staff, so maybe it is unusual. – moberley Feb 3 '11 at 3:54
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    @moberley : is it part of the main collection, or is it a 'special collection'? Some public libraries will maintain a local history archive, but they're not a universal thing. (although, I admit, it's possible that they're more common than is reflected in my area, as the libraries in my area are all just branches of a larger county-wide library system). Some "special collections" almost fall into a class that most people would associate more with a museum than an archive (although, museums often play the same role of an archive, but for different types of items) – Joe Feb 3 '11 at 4:06
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    @Joe I suppose it qualifies as a special collection; it is stored in a side room and the materials don't get checked out. However, everything in those archives is catalogued in MARC using the regular library software so it is very closely linked. – moberley Feb 3 '11 at 5:02
  • I'd go with professional. Archives aren't libraries, but it's not hard to find professional study programmes that cover both. We should settle this before the start of private beta: the discussion here should be able to steer a proposal to a better path. – Charles Stewart Feb 3 '11 at 9:59
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    Who use items could interested on preservation of these items? – Maniero Feb 3 '11 at 10:39
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    I see. Most libraries could indeed have nothing to do with archiving, especially with archiving of scientific research results or data. If we look further, scientific data is not always text, e.g., archives of audio/video recordings of a language valuable for linguists--that's also something that must be preserved and digitally represented and served online, for the benefit of scientific community. Merging with "Books" would hardly be compatible with moving in this direction also. – imz -- Ivan Zakharyaschev Feb 5 '11 at 1:39
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As Joe has pointed out in a comment, there is another proposal for digital preservation and curation -- http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/24094/digital-curation , "where this topic would obviously belong". (Thanks!)

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