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Re: local/distributed vs global/unified archives

Atanu Garai poses an interesting question.  Essentially, I 
believe he is asking why the industry is pursuing institutional 
repositories when subject-matter repositories and consortial 
repositories may have greater upside.  Discipline-based 
approaches should resonate with the researchers, as their first 
loyalty is to the field.  Consortial-approaches should resonate 
with the sponsoring bodies, as they distribute costs.

Why, then, have institutional repositories initiatives have 
gotten the lion's share of attention/money/effort/publicity?

Primarily because they are far easier to get up and running. 
Repository advocates within a single school should have a good 
sense of their institution's idiosyncratic bureaucracy and 
decision-making structure.  They are also likely to have a basic 
understanding of how to secure the resources (funds, staffing, 
hardware, etc.) to get an IR launched.  Extrapolating that 
knowledge beyond the school's boundaries is a challenge.  Who 
does what work to support a discipline-based repository?  How are 
expenses fairly distributed among the partners of a consortial 
approach?  In either instance, how is the free-rider problem 

This is but a quick observation on the subject.  There are 
obvious examples of both subject-matter (obligatory arXiv 
reference here) and consortial (CDL) successes.  The bottom line, 
however, is that launching an IR is a more straightforward and 
capturable task for most institutions.

Greg Tananbaum
Consulting Services at the Intersection of Technology, Content, & Academia
(510) 295-7504