Libra: Implications for the Health System

Libra is the University of Virginia’s institutional repository.  It’s a virtual place where members of the UVA community can deposit their scholarship in a permanent archive.  Designed for open access, Libra can also be used to expose scholarship to researchers around the world.  On February 7th, I sat down with Anne Houston, Director of Humanities and Social Sciences Services, at Alderman Library, and we talked about Libra in terms of open access, discoverability, and preservation.

What are the benefits of putting one’s scholarly output in Libra?

I would say there are two main benefits.  One is visibility.  Libra is not behind a pay wall, so readers wouldn’t have to have a subscription to see your work.  The second reason is preservation.  We’re not convinced that publishers are committed to long-term preservation, so we want to do that through Libra and our participation in Academic Preservation Trust, a consortium committed to the creation and management of a preservation repository for academic and research content.   Content added to Libra will be preserved through the APTrust.

What types of materials can you put in Libra?

Libra is a self-depositing environment.  We don’t edit or reject anything.  Libra has articles, technical reports, conference proceedings, pre-prints, and book chapters.

Can Libra be used as a publishing option?  In other words, suppose someone wanted to publish some research as open access but didn’t have the resources to pay a publishing fee.

I think this depends on where open access goes. What you are talking about is kind of a radical overhaul of scholarly communications, as it would mean that authors would not have their work vetted through the review/evaluation processes of either a traditional or open access publisher.  I see us as being very far away from that being our current culture, but it’s one direction in which academic publishing could go.

Let’s talk more about visibility. How are items in Libra discoverable?

Right now they are discoverable only in Virgo, the University’s online catalog.  What we are moving to, is making them accessible via a Google search.  We could do that now; however, the problem is that Google would pull the item without going to the metadata for each item, which is where the Terms of Use are found.  Therefore, we want Google to pull up the metadata record with the Terms of Use, which then links to the actual item.  In order for that to happen, we need to generate an index of all the metadata records for Google to crawl.

What will Libra look like three years from now?

Currently, there are two big things happening with Libra that will impact its course.  One is thesis and dissertation deposit.  We are moving toward a system where schools will not require students to submit a paper copy of their work and, instead, submit it though Libra, which can talk to the student information system. The School of Engineering is doing that now, and the School of Nursing is considering it.  Once we do that, there is going to be a lot of student work in Libra, making it much more integrated into the life of the University.  The other development is that we are now accepting data sets that are suitable for public viewing. As awareness of open access grows, so will Libra and all institutional repositories.  At the same time, we see Libra as more than open access articles, and we are particularly excited about the direction we are going in with dissertations and data sets. Finally, Scholarly Communications is currently in a very disruptive state.  Alternative publishing outlets are being used, with accompanying alternative metrics.  Libra will be part of the equation three years from now.  What part is anyone’s guess.

Supplemental Information

Libra: http://libra.virginia.edu/

Libra Terms of Use: http://libra.virginia.edu/terms

Academic Preservation Trust: http://academicpreservationtrust.org/

Contact Information

Anne Houston, Director, Humanities and Social Sciences Services, Alderman Library

Email: ahouston@virginia.edu
Phone: 434-9244-4963

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