Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Getting published: Repository metadata for diverse collections

I've always loved writing. But the last time I had something published was back when in 1997. As a teenager, I loved to poetry and had a couple of poems published in local magazines and the like. But I'm actually only any good at writing poetry when I feel angst. And other than a couple of years in my mid twenties (when I started writing poetry again...), I've been lucky enough to not really feel any angst since I was a teenager.

So I guess I'm lucky to be in a job where part of it actually involves writing - even if it is mostly reports and long-winded e-mails. I had actually been putting off writing anything for publication though, due to a fear of commitment (both in terms of time and energy) and possible failure. I did know that, if I ever did decide to write something, my colleagues and workplace were likely to be supportive - the potential of me getting something published had been discussed before. I also know how lucky I am to work for a library service who are keen for me to do this sort of thing, and willing to give me the time and space to work on it.

So, about a month and a half ago a call was sent out on a repository mailing list I'm signed up to, asking if people would be willing to write an article on some aspect of metadata in institutional repositories. Well, I'm no cataloguing expert, but I have spent the past two and a half years managing an institutional repository, and have read up a fair bit on the associated metadata issues- and experienced a fair few of them first hand. I also knew that my Repository Administrator had written an essay on that very subject for his Library MSc, not too long ago. So it seemed like a good opportunity to make a start - and also to give my administrator a similar experience, as he had never published anything before either.

After discussing it with my Repository Administrator, who thankfully was also enthusiastic, I got in touch with the editors and asked if a) they were interested and b) when they needed the article by. The answers were a) yes and b) in about two weeks. Which didn't give us long to actually get something down on paper. Although we used my administator's essay as a starting point, it did get quite heavily adapted and no longer bears much resemblance to the original essay (bar maybe a paragraph or two).

At the end of June the article was published in Catalogue and Index. The published version isn't available on open access, but as all dutiful repository managers should, I've put the final PDF on the institutional repository (and yes, I do have the publishers permission). If you want to read it, it's at

Admittedly, it is baby steps. The article hasn't been peer reviewed, it's most definitely a co-author job (I have no hesitation in saying we both contributed pretty much exactly 50% of the work), and it's a publication that isn't likely to be seen outside of the library world (or, possibly, even the cataloguing one). But it is a start, and I feel more proud than I expected to, to finally have something professional in print.

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