|DSpace repositories in Italy: cooperation for quality enhancement of services|
Cooperation is fundamental for Open Access movement and the adoption of the OAI-PMH protocol can be considered the minimum common requirement for the interoperability of distributed repositories. However if one needs more services than the availability of a federated search, it implies a committed organization and a stronger cooperation towards quality enhancement of services. Open Access repositories are often isles, but this is not enough and it is necessary to create a correlated network of people and institutions.
In Italy the interest for Open Access is growing and many universities have developed DSpace institutional repositories. In 2003 a group of Italian responsibles of DSpace repositories started to discuss the possibility of a joint cooperative effort and the participants agreed to initiate the DSpace Italia group (http://dspace-italia.aepic.it/). The purpose of the DSpace Italia Group is to diffuse the Open Access movement and to increase the spreading of DSpace, with specific objectives as:
The paper will illustrate the activities done in the first phase of the DSpace Italia group. A special focus has been given to the analysis of different organisational issues in implementing an institutional repository, including the integration with existing processes and organisational structure, as well as skills development of individuals, groups, inter-universities communities. Good results have been achieved for the repository of e-theses.
However, the possibilities of cooperation for enhancement of quality of services to the scholarly community have been just started to be afforded. In the next phase of the DSpace Italia group activity, the attention should be given to the realization of services for the academic community, as semantic ontologies and metadata control for the discovery and aggregation of distributed thematic materials.
A centralized support service is needed for the DSpace repositories in Italy, especially for those institutions that do not have enough technical resources or expertise to install and run it in-house. This can be supported by the AePIC Team (http://www.aepic.it) at CILEA(http://www.cilea.it), an Italian Consortium of universities which provides ICT services as housing, hosting, setup and configuration, consultancy, training for several e-publishing products. The collaboration of Dspace Italia Group with CILEA could provide the cooperative services with efficiency and effectiveness.
In conclusion, a debate should start at national cooperative level, together with all the stakeholders involved, about the change of higher education towards the digital university. The first phase experience of the Dspace Italia group let the participants understand that they should not limit the opportunities of the DSpace repositories to creating an alternative to e-publishing.