Volunteering is one of the best ways to become more involved with any profession. It harnesses the apprenticeship mentality where a student learns first hand the delicacy of the craft he wishes to learn. Though not as prominent nowadays volunteering is a great way to get connected with mentors in your field. I was lucky enough to be taken on as a volunteer through University of South Florida Scholar Commons. My work with Scholar Commons has been seeing how Institutional Repositories are working to help students and faculty promote their research. Through my volunteer work I had the amazing opportunity to see how important these repositories are. According to the Association of College and Research Libraries Environmental Scan 2-13, IR’s are a green Open Access Initiatives. Green OA’s house the universities scholarly publications for long term digital preservation. The material in the repository can be pre- or post-prints, theses and dissertations, data collections, unique materials from special collections, etc. Articles published in journals with copyright restrictions may also be placed in repositories after appropriate embargo periods as allowed by some publisher agreements.
IR’s are becoming a new publishing format for universities to share their scholarly work. Scholar Commons uses Berkeley Electronic Press or Bepress for short as their platform. An interesting characteristic of bepress is that the content will show up in search engines such as Google and Yahoo. This further allows for the universities research to be accessible on a larger scale than the library catalog. Scholar Commons also shows up in the USF Library catalog which allows students to become more aware of alternative publishing options. The role of IR’s will increase as libraries head in a more technological driven future.
Here are some resources to find out more about Open Access and Institutional Repositories.