Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln



Paul Royster

Date of this Version



Presentation at Open Repositories 2014, Helsinki, Finland, June 11, 2014.


This was a "Repository Rant" session; presentations were limited to 24 slides and 7 minutes.

Copyright (c) 2014 Paul Royster. Re-use is permitted.

10-minute video capture is attached below, VLC media file (.webm), includes 3-minutes of Q&A (download).

Video can be streamed from:


Managers of institutional repositories are offered much advice, from national organizations (like SPARC) and promoters of movements like Open Access or products like Creative Commons licenses. This presentation is about how Nebraska's IR has succeeded despite not following the advice offered by experts, publishing consultants, and "thought leaders" in scholarly communications.

The advice generally offered includes: 1.Use open source software 2.Expect faculty to self-archive 3.Seek campus “mandate” or deposit policy 4.Promote author-rights addendum 5.Provide funds for gold OA fees 6.Participate in Open Access events 7.Promote Creative Commons licenses 8.Require peer review for original publishing and 9.Assign all possible identifiers.

Instead, the UNL DigitalCommons has grown by following 5 principles: 1. Provide services 2. Make it easy 3. Give immediate feedback 4. Maximize content upload and 5. The IR belongs to the depositors.

We are the 2nd-largest institutional repository in United States, with 71,000 full-text documents and 24 million downloads since 2005. We are the university’s most visited subdomain. Our content ranks above Elsevier’s in Google search results, and we have more faculty participation than we can handle. We typeset our author versions to match the pagination and layout of the publisher versions. We exploit the “Public Domain” and enjoy “State Sovereign Immunity”. The faculty work with us because they want to, not because it is mandated or required.

Things I don't believe: • Author rights addenda are legally sound and effective for faculty. • Self-archiving is a realistic goal and produces unproblematic content. • Campus mandates are worth the time and effort invested. • Creative Commons licenses are good for everyone and everything. • Gold OA frees authors and libraries from profit-seeking hegemony. • Proposed OA standards don’t marginalize innovative publishing.

The “Ecosystem” metaphor for scholarly communications is fundamentally misleading. “Open Access” is alienating its allies. Two forces are at work: an explosion of creative innovation and an effort to rationalize and control that explosion.

Our role as Repositorians is to give scholars and researchers control over the intellectual property they create, not to regulate or stipulate or legislate what they do with it.

The Advice Not Taken.pptx (6821 kB)
PowerPoint slides (24)

OR2014 Helsinki.webm (101821 kB)
10-minute video VLC