The Trinity Digital Repository is an open access resource for papers written by Trinity faculty and students, materials from the Trinity libraries, and Trinity publications. It is open to anyone, anywhere in the world. Making material freely available fits perfectly with the mission of the library, and supporting it has been important to staff. Open access material also helps raise the visibility of Trinity publications, as you can see in the list of popular downloads. We have always hosted the repository with a company called Bepress, which was a small independent start up when Trinity started working with them. This year Bepress was purchased by the publishing giant Elsevier, causing great angst among the library community active in institutional repositories and open access initiatives. This was recently expressed by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, who announced their Beprexit project to find an alternative to Bepress. Like University of Pennsylvania and many other institutions, Trinity is looking at alternatives to Bepress now that it is owned by Elsevier.
I’m not completely an Elsevier critic. They provide high-quality access to a large body of scholarly work, and we license a lot of highly-used digital content from them. Elsevier is also very expensive, and they have a deserved reputation for purchasing many smaller publishers and affiliated service companies, giving rise to concerns about a monopoly, or something close to a monopoly. There are a few other big publishers, such as Kluwer, but there are far less publishers than when I started in the library profession.
To be fair to Elsevier they also have a history of supporting some open access initiatives, for example, the Hinari project. Through Hinari, a program run by the WHO, Elsevier makes medical journals available to low and middle-income countries. They also have made no move they libraries have seen to shut down or put new conditions on Bepress repositories. Still, the move by Elsevier to take over Bepress is unsettling to say the least. It isn’t entire clear why Elsevier purchased Bepress, but they have been very active in purchasing other platforms and citation tools like Mendeley aimed at the academic community. There is some thought that Elsevier is seeking to link open access preprints to the publication process. We in the library believe that we need to carefully examine options other than Bepress to host our repository.
The environment for repositories has changed pretty dramatically since we started with Bepress. There are more options available to us, many of which have been developed within the open access/open source community. Over the next few months the library will talk with companies that support DSpace, Islandora, and Preservica. We’ll also talk with Bepress, since we are not necessarily ready to abandon a platform that has worked well for us. We do need to be concerned with both access and long-term management of our materials. We need a solution that will minimize our costs, and assure us that we can continue to provide access to Trinity materials in a reliable, open, and anonymous way (without intrusive data mining from any external company).
We invite any students or faculty to contact us with comments or concerns as we explore repository options.