Services, marketing and creativity are key to digital repository success

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For immediate release
December 18, 2008

For more information, contact:
Jennifer McLennan
(202) 296-2296 ext. 121

Services, marketing and creativity are key to digital repository success
Resources and presentations from recent SPARC repositories meeting now online

Washington, DC – December 18, 2008 – Thought leaders and practitioners from higher education and beyond called on participants at the SPARC Digital Repositories Meeting in Baltimore on November 17-18 to continue their digital repository development efforts and offered strategies for building on experience gained to date.

In the opening keynote, John Wilbanks, who heads the Science Commons project at Creative Commons, pointed to the unique qualities of digital repositories, and the need to highlight their potential to serve the academic community in ways that other resources simply cannot. He encouraged universities to adopt open-access policies modeled after the one adopted by Harvard University earlier this year rather than inventing their own.

He also acknowledged the challenge of getting academics to post materials in a digital repository. “There seems to be a disconnect between the discussion of people planning to share the information and the amount of information being shared,” said Wilbanks. He suggested that more repository managers assist faculty in depositing their works and emphasize the prospect of making their scholarly research more visible.

Bob Witeck, chief executive officer and founding partner of Witeck-Combs Communications Inc., pointed to the importance of smart marketing in getting digital repositories off the ground and valued by faculty. He encouraged librarians and repository managers to use plain language and vivid stories to communicate the impact of the open sharing of information. With the interconnected global market and economy in turmoil, now is the time to move the open access message with urgency, he said. These tight economic times, when people are trying to get more information with less money, may present the perfect storm of opportunity to make public research available for free online, said Witeck.

By making digital repositories more visible and demonstrating their value to the public, universities can win needed support from taxpayers and communities, said David Shulenburger, Vice President for Academic Affairs, National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC), in the closing keynote of the meeting.

The public is eager to have the fruits of the scholarship they funded available because they know the right information at the right place can change lives, he said. “The folks who pay our bills need to and want to know how those investments in the university are benefiting them. Unlike most other enterprises, universities do a lousy job of letting their investors know what they are getting from their investment.” A well-populated digital repository should be promoted as a resource to citizens of state, Shulenburger said. “It’s time to let the light of universities shine and allow digital repositories to entice additional funding,” he concluded. Shulenburger’s proposed seven steps for the continued advancement of digital repositories are now published on the meeting Web site.

A summary of each keynote and every panel discussion, along with available podcasts, slides, and an invitation to online discussion, are now online through the SPARC Web site at

The SPARC Digital Repositories Meeting 2008 meeting was made possible by the generous support of: Microsoft (Conference Sponsor); Berkeley Electronic Press, BioMed Central, DC Lab, and EPrints (breakfast and luncheon Sponsors); and seventeen coffee break and supporting sponsors (listed at



SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), with SPARC Europe and SPARC Japan, is an international alliance of more than 800 academic and research libraries working to create more open systems of scholarly communication. SPARC’s advocacy, educational and publisher partnership programs encourage expanded dissemination of research. SPARC is on the Web at

The SPARC Digital Repositories Meeting program was developed by the members of the 2008 Program Committee: Jun Adachi (SPARC Japan), Raym Crow (SPARC), Richard Fyffe (Grinnell College), Susan Gibbons (University of Rochester), Melissa Hagemann (Open Society Institute), Karla Hahn (Association of Research Libraries), Bill Hubbard (SHERPA), Rick Johnson (SPARC), Michelle Kimpton (DSpace Foundation), Norbert Lossau (Goettingen State and University Library and DRIVER), Joyce Ogburn (University of Utah), Terry Owen (University of Maryland, College Park), Kathleen Shearer (Canadian Association of Research Libraries), Alma Swan (Key Perspectives Ltd.), Sean Thomas (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Susan Veldsman (eIFL), and Charles Watkinson (The American School of Classical Studies at Athens).