Fedora Conference — Day Two First Session
I went to Trac B this morning to hear Chris Awre (University of Hull) talk about their research into determining their user's needs for an institutional repository and a presentation on Australia's ARROW (Australia Research Repositories Online to the World) project.
Chris explained how they approached their requirements for an institutional repository in conjunction with their work on the RepoMMan project. While their survey addressed UK researchers at University of Hull, I believe their findings are somewhat general to all institutions. For example, researchers save multiple copies of their work all over the place; their work computers, network shares, home computers, floppies, USB drives, etc. What they found was a requirement of their repository would then be convincing scholars that saving to a repository instance that took care of versioning would be as easy (if not more so) as what they are currently doing when writing their scholarly papers. I think this point really drives at what makes or breaks a successful repository — if you can make the repository part of the publication process in such a way that it makes scholar's research and writing easier/more accessible/fill in your own adjective, the faculty will buy-into the project making the overall success of the repository possible.
The second session on ARROW was also quite interesting. Their approach to a national research repository is quite novel. Instead of starting their project and hiring their own programmers, they outsourced the development of the software to VTLS, and require them to open-source certain portions of the software developed for them to the Fedora community. From this collaboration VTLS has released the SRU/SRW Interface, Metadata Extraction Service via JHOVE, Handle System integration, Content Model Configuration Serivice and a Web Crawler Exposure Service (e.g. to Google).
It's worth mentioning that VTLS is the only company right now with a out-of-the-box software package (VITAL) for Fedora. The rest of the implemented projects out there have been developed on top of Fedora, including several open-source versions like Elated, Fez, and the NSDL content management system.
The ARROW project also has a number of project documents available online for review. The slides from the ARROW Roadshow 2006 are very nice in presenting the partnership between ARROW and VTLS and the overall vision of the repository.