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CAIRSS – CAUL Australasian Institutional Repository Support Service


By Dr Peter Sefton (University of Western Sydney) with Ms Caroline Drury (University of Southern Queensland).

On Wednesday 5^th^ Dec I (Peter) visited the Japanese Digital Repository Federation at their invitation and expense, to talk about how our respective repository communities are organised.  I’d like to thank the DRF for this opportunity to make the brief trip to Tokyo. Caroline was invited but was unable to make it. The DRF folks have put up a summary of the meeting, in Japanese. Note that while my comments on that page are listed as “CAIRSS” I was not representing CAIRSS (the CAUL (Council of Australian University Librarians) Institutional Repository Support Service), I attended as a member of the Australian/Australasian repository community. I also attended the DRF international conference in 2009 on a similar basis, when I did happen to be associated with CAIRSS, so the organisers knew me. I did talk a fair bit about CAIRSS, in the context of other projects in Australia.

Before I went I polled the CAIRSS-list to find out if there were any questions people would like answered – more on that below.

First, a bit about me and repositories:

  • I was the technical lead for the Regional Universities Building Research Infrastructure Collaboratively (RUBRIC) project which was hosted by the University of Southern Queensland (and the de-facto project manager for several months during the project establishment phase).

  • I led a small team at USQ subcontracting to the ARROW project during 2008, providing technical support to ARROW, and repository services to small Higher Education institutions in Australia.

  • I worked on USQ’s successful bid to host the first CAIRSS repository support service in Australia and acted as a senior strategist for the service, for example working on guides such as the one on how to get into Google Scholar et al, and negotiating major changes to repository infrastructure such as the closure of the Australian Digital Theses search service and its subsumption into the National Library of Australia’s Trove service.

  • I was not involved in running the second version of CAIRSS from 2011-2012 but I have remained part of the repository community in Australia and attended the 2012 community day where I spoke about trends in repository software in the context of organisational governance.

  • I am on the conference committee for the Open Repositories series of conferences (from 2011) – the call for papers for the 2013 conference is just out.


Shigeki SUGITA started off proceedings with a presentation about the activities of the Digital Repository Federation.

Perhaps the most striking thing from an Australasian point of view is a staffing issue; talented repository managers are required by management to rotate through a variety of library jobs meaning that there is constant turnover and a lack of opportunity to specialise. There are similar pressures at play in our libraries I guess, with a need to train new repository staff, and significant turnover but not to the same extent.

Japanese repositories are very much driven by an Open Access agenda, which is quite different from the situation in Australia where two different government measurement schemes collecting information about publications and push repositories in another direction, more on that below.

Another interesting dimension to the Japanese scene is that they have a number of consortial-repositories where a number of institutions share a repository. This is an idea that came up in Australia in the mid-to-late 00’s several times, but never got off the ground. It might be worth revisiting some time both for institutional publications repositories

The presentation

I presented from an earlier version of the ‘slides’ below – I have added some notes from the discussion and clarifying material.

CAIRSS background

Parent projects

The Australian government made significant investments in institutional repositories via programs such as:

  • APSR Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories (ended 2008)

  • ARROW Australian Research Repositories Online to the World

  • RUBRIC, Regional Universities Building Repository Infrastructure Collaboratively.

These projects and other investments in the repository world were via these funding streams (for which the websites have disappeared):
  • ASHER2 – Australian Scheme for Higher Education Repositories [Sponsored the development of repositories in all Higher Education Institutions in Australia]

  • SII3 – Systemic Infrastructure Initiative

  • BAA4 – Backing Australia's Ability

We talked in some detail about how these funding schemes have influenced the establishment of repositories; while the initial driver for Australian repositories was open access, the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) measurement exercise and its failed predecessor stalled the Open Access movement to some extent, by requiring universities to collect non-open access materials in complicated ways.

CAIRSS v1 2009-2011

Coming out of the investments outline above, CAIRSS was established on  March 16, 2009:

The first CAUL service was funded for two years, with the approval of Department of Innovation (DIISR), with monies remaining from the successful ARROW project, supplemented by CAUL member subscriptions.

CAIRSS Structure

CAIRSS v1 staffing

This version of the CAIRSS service covered Australian universities, and was staffed with:

  • A full time repository manager. (USQ)

  • A full time technical staff member. (USQ)

  • A full time copyright officer. (Swinburne)

  • A part-time strategic advisor and other senior support.

CAIRSS v1 approach

The initial CAIRSS service included:

  • Annual meetings with both a general and technical strand.

  • Copyright workshops for private discussions of copyright issues.

  • Maintained ‘sandbox’ instances of repository software.

  • Creation and maintenance of web pages and guides on repository issues such as statistics, indexing and an extensive copyright guide.

  • Provided direct support for government reporting processes – chiefly the establishment of the Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) exercise.

CAIRSS v2 2011-2012

With added New Zealanders

The second version of CAIRSS was funded from member subscriptions and expanded to include New Zealand:

The second CAUL service is also funded for almost two years and incorporates many of New Zealand’s higher education institutions. With this expansion, CAIRSS now stands for the CAUL Australasian Institutional Repository Support Service.

CAIRSS v2 Staffing

This version of CAIRSS had a reduced team in the central office at USQ.

  • One full time repository manager.

  • One half-time technical officer.

  • Part time senior manager.

  • Part time copyright person at Swinburne.

CAIRSS v2 approach

The second CAIRSS service included:

  • Annual meetings with a general strand.

  • Discussion list for members only.

  • Copyright workshops for private discussions of copyright issues.

  • Maintenance of web pages on repository issues such as statistics etc.

  • Provided support for government reporting processes (ERA)

Post CAIRSS: CRAC 2013-?

From 2013 CAIRSS will no longer exist – it is being replaced with a new service know as CRAC.  I gather that the feeling of CAUL was that the community is now mature enough to be self-sustaining.

CRAC (CAUL Research Advisory Committee) NEW! from 2013

CAUL Research Advisory Committee

(will undertake some of the work carried out by CAIRSSAC and COSIAC, from 2013)

Program Research 
Chair Heather Gordon (2013-2014)
Members TBC
CONZUL Janet Copsey (2013-    )
Practitioners TBC


CRAC anticipated activities

  • Running the annual event

  • Annual copyright workshop

  • Maintaining the CAIRSS discussion list

New Open Access group: AOASG

There is a new Open Access group in Australia which is not part of the CAUL/CAIRSS family.

From Danny Kingsley:

The Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG) was launched during Open Access Week in 2012. It is a consortium of six universities with open access policies  - QUT, ANU, Macquarie University, Newcastle University, Charles Sturt University and Victoria University. The group aims to provide support, lobbying and advocacy for open access in Australia. Membership will be extended to other research institutions and affiliates during 2013.

http://www.aoasg.org.au [NOTE the website is currently being built – may not be live yet]

General comments about the CAIRSS/CRAC community

Small task-force groups now self-organize

The repository community is well established and members of the community run their own investigations into repository matters. These range from asking questions on the list about repository practices, to running formal surveys. An example from the broader CAUL community of which CAIRSS is a part is the IR / Open Access Funding Survey by Danny Kingsley and Vicki Picasso.


DRF collaboration?

From Caroline Drury:

It would be interesting for CRAC to consider something similar to the DRF model  - eg at the beginning of each two year period, to meet and consider what projects could be done in the space, within Australia / NZ. Then perhaps a call could be put to institutions who could then (according to their strengths) be assigned to do that project in a collaborative model, using their own funds. I’m not sure if it would work here, given the big physical distances, but I think it's a good model in a scenario where there's limited funding.

I’m sure CRAC will consider this.

April event in Tasmania

An event is being organised in Tasmania in April around the following themes. Regional participating would be most welcome.

From David Flanders at ANDS:

  1. linking research data and research publications

  2. re-architecting the repository (if we started now based on what we know).

  3. business metrics/analytics from scholarly systems

  4. research profiles and author identifiers

  5. emerging scholarly vocabularies, linkeddata &

  6. scholarly search engines (beyond Google Scholar)

  7. APIs and bringing all these systems together via shared resources.

Questions (with my notes)

Natasha Simons at Griffith University had three questions that provided a great structure for the discussion part of the meeting. I tried to take notes (included below) as well as talk.


  1. How's the Memorandum of Understanding between Digital Repository Federation (Japan), UKCoRR and the UK RSP going? What sorts of things are of the most importance to all parties to share and experience in this space? What sort of involvement has there been between the signers to the MoU? How do they envisage this MoU benefiting all parties (particularly long-term)?\

In January 2012 – DRF heard there were repo managers in the UK, they invited a rep from Repositories Support Project (RSP) in the UK.  Jackie Whickam came to snowy Hokkaido, where they found out that RDF and RSP carried out similar activities – eg the re-enactment of online discussions wearing masks.  After the meeting found out that there were many more things to share. Eg in the UK they carry out residential workshops. Meeting with JW was about operational things between repo manager communities in UK and JP. Wanted to do more on activities to do with individual repositories.

Most important objective of MoU is to send representatives to counterpart meeting to share more specifics. Since signed the MoU they have not done so much. First thing was to invite a rep from UK to national workshop. UK rep was asked to give a presentation about how they promote activities inside universities.

The MoU says they will sponsor trips for each other (but the Brits have not done their bit … yet :). RSP has just come to the end of its funding cycle. DRF hopes that even though there is uncertainly about funding the collaboration can continue. Funding is restricted to long term planning is difficult.

2. Find out what you can about the NII Repositories Program - http://www.nii.ac.jp/irp/en/rfp/ 
There are some interesting projects listed. How do they decide on the project areas? Where does the funding come from? How do they decide on the actual projects? Are they all 12 month projects? Are they all collaborative? How do they share the results?\

Cyber Science Infrastrcuture CSI hosted by NII – has a selection board, informatics scholars & heads / top management of uni libraries about 10 members. 200 – 300 M Yen

  • Launch – circa 50 univerisites circa 1M Yen

  • R& D (5-6 page proposal docs by multiple unis) - examples

    • DRF (proposal by several unis)

    • Sherpa Romeo – Japan

    • Statistics

About 30 submitted – 20 accepted.

Proposals ask for money never given more, usually slightly less than proposed. Money goes to the unis as project operators. Budgets split between the participants (training, workshops, system development, etc). Budget allocated on fiscal year basis, CSI checks. Proposal made around March – decision around June – activities take place from June to March. Following June there is a results project meeting in Tokyo – 2 day meeting (decreasing because the number of people launching has dropped. Initial 50 now 10).

Sharing of results at June meeting, not much more than that.  Some projects with strong outreach will be well known. Out of 20 – some projects faded out without much impact.

Some projects that have done well:

  • DRF – The Digital Repositories Federation, my hosts.

  • Sherpa-Romeo Japan.

  • SCPJ – Society Copyright Policy in Japan – 600 societies almost all grey lit – a few are ‘green’ OA.

  • ROAT – project to standardise repo stats same as PIRUS/IRUS

  • Author – ID – (ORCID) participants on this are involved in ORCID. NII working on a trial basis to have a database of Japanese researchers.

  • ShareRe – consortial repositories came out of Hiroshima . DSpace commonly used in Japan and EARMAS (original Japanese repository software)

    There are 14 on a regional basis. Each one has a lead university acts as a host to provide system and support.

    • Hiroshima .  Collect funds for future 14 members. 14 * 13K – 420K per kept in reserve, and used for security maintenance. Operated by regional council of libraries, Hiroshima uni serves as sectretariat and hosts, additional funding come from regional 30K Yen per year. Initial launch funds came from CSI – Hiroshima was the first.

    • 7 Member universities Kagoshima as lead. Initial investment about 2M yen do not collect funds for future rennocation collectively 250 K pro rata per year contributed by member according to FTE

  • UsrCom – Trial repository system sandbox  - 2008-2009

3. Are they ways we can communicate better with them? Do they hold any webinars on topics that would be of interest to us? If so, how do they tell people about them? Could they tell us? I see they post to the JISC list every now and then (usually well-deserved achievement boasts). Should we have a 'guest' from DRF join our CAIRSS e-list or could they email you and then you post to our e-list?

Don’t do webinars and they do everything in Japanese so that’s a challenge. Does anyone on the CAIRSS list have good Japanese? The DRF would like to have a member on the CAIRSS/CRAC list.

Future of DRF not clear.

(In Japan moves afoot to subsidise societies as a way of driving OA)

NO OA mandates from JP govt – rules being revised now so that theses can go through IR or must? Policy reads like must but we don’t know. May open the door for theses to publicised thru network. If this is realised there will be more possibilities – need to think about metadata standards and talking to national library. )

Next steps

Once again, thanks to the DRF for having me – I am following up with CAUL on how we might be able to collaborate further. Now that we are in the CRAC era, Caroline’s suggestion of having a ‘call for projects’ that then get implemented at the member institutions sounds like it might be a way forward, and an ongoing relationship with the DRF (and the UK RSP) would be helpful, as they’ve been down this road before.

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