Wednesday 18 August 2010

Goodbye and thanks from the SUETr weblog

The SUETr (Start-up and Enhancement Training) project was a one-year project funded by the JISC between 2008 and 2009 to provide training associated with the Repositories Start-up and Enhancement (SUE) projects:

Six SUETr events were held between 2008 and 2009. The full programmes (and, in many cases, presentation slides) are available from the event web pages or blogs.As SUETr is now complete, we do not intend to provide any more posts on the SUETr blog and will be closing the comments facility. The blog will remain here as a resource for you to use, but it is now officially frozen.

Goodbye and thanks for your interest in the SUETr project.

Michael Day and Stephanie Taylor
UKOLN, University of Bath

Thursday 26 February 2009

SUETr Understanding User Requirements Event

This event will take place on 11th March 2009 at UKOLN, University of Bath. Booking is now open, and a booking form is available here. A draft programme and venue details are available on the event wiki.

User requirements are a vital component when creating a repository, but they also need to be continually monitored and updated. For a successful repository, it is essential to be able to translate these evolving requirements into features and functionality so that you are building a flexible and user-friendly interface for IR users. The day is aimed at non-technical repository staff.

This event will explore the different aspects of dealing with user requirements and is aimed at non-technical staff who need to communicate with both users and technical colleagues or external partners to make their repository reflect user requirements.
- A workshop on how to capture user requirements and then communicate those requirement to technical staff
- Case studies showing how others have worked with and developed their user requirements
- A technical perspective on user requirements
- A workshop looking at requirements from the user perspective – what do you want when you are the user?

The mix of case studies and practical workshops has been popular in other events, and we hope with this topic to encourage people to develop their skills and be confident not only in talking to their user communities, but also in communicating the requirements to a technical partner, be that in-house staff of an external company.

I know this is an area that people have expressed an interest in, and bookings have started early, so I'm looking forward to an interesting and inspirational day!
(And I can personally vouch for the high quality of the cakes and biscuits at Bath, if you need an added insentive!)

Thursday 19 February 2009

SUETr Repository Policy Event - A Great Day

Although Aberystwyth is not the easiest place to get to (more of that in a later post), we were rewarded by a great venue in the National Library of Wales and some stunning views of the town and the sea. In between eating Welsh cakes and sipping tea, we had a very productive day, with speakers and delegates exchanging experiences in a hard-working but informal atmosphere.

Gareth Johnson of the University of Leicester gave an excellent opening talk that set a good tone for the rest of the day. Having been involved with repositories in a variety of roles at SHERPA, working on projects such as OpenDOAR and RSP, Gareth then moved on to the University of Leicester where he has been putting into practice a lot of the tools and information he helped devise in his previous post. Gareth also blogged about this event and sent out updates via Twitter (using the #SUETr tag - check out the SUETr guide to Twitter here).

We then moved into the workshop, led by Jackie Knowles and Hannah Payne from RSP/Aberystwyth University and myself. We split into two groups - one group of people who hadn't got existing policies in place and one group who had policies of some sort. Each group had a 'kit' of sections and questions to build up their policies from scratch or question and adjust their exisiting policies. As ever, there was a lot of sharing of information and knowledge in this session as well as group discussions. The exchange of experiences was a major theme of the day, as was the 'borrowing' of policies from those already out there. This was picked up later in the day too - and hopefully we will be using the event wiki to share policy documents so other people can borrow creatively for policies into the future. There will be an electronic version of the kit used in this workshop up in the event wiki early next week.

A relaxing lunch in the Pen Dinas cafe and some fresh air, looking at sea views, made a pleasant break after the busy morning.

We started the afternoon session with the snapshot case studies. The idea was for IR managers to give a 10-15 minute talk on their own repository and why/how their policies had been developed to deal with specific circumstances and requirements, each unique to their own institution.

I'll detail each talk in another post, as we are currently getting the slides from each speaker up on the event wiki. The talks led to many questions and much discussion in a friendly and informal session that lasted for the afternoon and could have probably run into the evening if we had had the time!

Having over run our schedule somewhat, we combined a refreshment break with an informal summary of the day. It was great to see contact details being swapped, and so much sharing of often hard-won knowledge and experience between colleagues. All participants were keen to stay in touch via the event wiki, and we'll be putting up not only presentations but also resources and questions and discussions over the next week. If you have an interest in repositories but were unable to attend this event, you're very welcome to access the event wiki and join our virtual discussions.

Wednesday 11 February 2009

Embedding Repositores Event - A Successful Day

The Embedding Repositories event took place yesterday at the University of Lincoln. Fears of snow and /or flooding were greater exaggerated, and most people who had booked for the event were able to make it. We were looked after very well by Julian Beckton and the staff at Lincoln, and enjoyed copious cups of tea and coffee as well as a lovely lunch, all of which fueled much networking and debate.

The broad theme of the day was for people to look at, think about and discuss where else the institutional repository might go, once it has been built and starts to amass deposits. Our speakers gave an excellent mix of case studies, ideas and techniques for building and developing the IR. All the presentations are now available on the event wiki. Gareth Johnson the IR manager at the University of Leicester, has blogged about the individual sessions.

Working in the repositories field, I am always delighted by how colleagues make the most of any chance to be together and exchange ideas and experiences. Yesterday was no exception, and the event soon had a life of it's own taking the basic framework of the programme into several interesting areas and making the topics live.

The first theme to emerge was that of librarians and developers working as a team, and how effective this can be. Julian Beckton at the University of Lincoln and Sally Rumsey at Oxford University had both worked with technical colleagues to customise their repositories. For their projects, this had clearly been a fruitful partnership. But others who hadn't got access to dedicated technical staff highlighted how difficult it can be when you are expected to have technical abilities on top of all the other requirements of an IR manager. The interest that JISC has in developing technical ideas with the HE community (see this week's "Developer Happiness Days" event in London) was seen as a positive thing and teamwork as the way forward.

The second theme was related to this, but took people off in another direction asking what exactly the IR needed to develop to meet the new demands of the HE community. Was the front end, the end-user interface, really that important? Or should we be focussing on building robust systems that are concentrating on storage and output, making the IR as flexible as possible and leaving the interface for the end users to someone else. Ideas such as making the output of the IR available in Pageflakes, as applications in Facebook - basically creating many 'hooks' to link into whatever end users wanted to use. There were no clear answers, but much fuel for thought here.

Finally, the burning question for everyone was... the REF. Everyone wanted a much clearer idea of what the REF would require, what it would involve and how it might affect their work. Despite the feeling that it is something of a black box at the moment, people are hopeful that it will be a positive challenge for the IR, giving it a higher profile and further embedding it into the individual institutions.

Lucy Keating from Newcastle University asked a question in her presentation that summed up the starting point for many discussions - "Do deposits go into your repository to die... or to be reborn?" By the end of the day, I was feeling rather evangelical about where the UK IR managers might be taking their repository content. They certainly don't see their repositories as a graveyard for deposits. Despite the cold and the dire weather threats and the early start (!) I felt quite energised - reborn in fact!

The event wiki is now open for discussion, please feel free to join us.

Thursday 5 February 2009

SUETr Embedding Repositiries Event - Update

This event will take place at the University of Lincoln next week, on 10th February. We still have some places available, although the event is filling up so if you're interested please sign up soon!

A full programme for the day is available on the event wiki. Please use the online booking form if you want to book a place.

In the initial implementation of the repository, the focus is firmly on basic advocacy, getting submissions and dealing with the inevitable teething troubles of software, policies, workflows - getting the basics right. As more repositories start to mature and to build up a steadily increasing number of deposits, staff working with the IR can start to think about the next steps.

The presentations and the workshop that make up this event are all focussing on the question of 'what next?' with the institutional repository from a variety of perspectives. Julian Beckton will be talking about handling teaching and learning objects within the IR -something that IR managers are increasingly being asked to plan for in the future, and which Julian is already working on with LIROLEM. Sally Rumsey will look at integrating the repository into other area of the institutional network, as she is doing with ORA. Mary Robinson of SHERPA works on a European-focussed projects such as DRIVER and also has practical repository experience through her work on The Depot and will be looking at linking up the institutinal repository into a wider network repositories.

The workshop, run by myself and Lucy Keating of the Newcastle University EPrints, will focus on what we can do with repositories once they are populated - both for our own users and for the wider support of scholarly communications. The idea for the workshop grew out of a conversation the Lucy and I had at a recent Repositories Support Project (RSP) Focus Group, where I was inspired by Lucy's ideas for using the deposits in the IR to populate many new information and research resources. The session wil begin with a short presentation by Lucy, then we will be exploring new ideas for content use with the group. Working with UKOLN and the RSP on repositories has given me a great chance to see and learn about many different kinds of IRs and the many different approaches that are being taken in this area both here and abroad. When repository staff get together, I usually find that the ideas flow, and I suspect my hardest job of the day will be keeping us all to time!

Thursday 18 December 2008

Fedora Day @ RSP

In case you haven't noticed (where have you been?) RSP is running some Fedora Commons training in January. More information at:

Monday 15 December 2008

SUETr Advocacy & Cultural Change Event

This event has been postponed until March 2009. Further details will be posted in due course.