Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Library Critique

This week we were asked to look at a library website and determine whether the library under review is a repository or a referactory. If we define repository and referactory in the same way as in in the Educause report we read then my institution's library is a repository.

The Northern Lakes College Library offers a traditional library search engine, learning guides / tutorials for students, a database of electronic resource, and a collection of web resources organized by topics. Although the site does not have any terms of service laid out like we saw in Schalk's example, I believe these issues are meant to be understood. The college has a standard plagiarism policy and copyright in Canada is covered widely on the library's Moodle site accessible to college staff and students.

I think you could have a library that was both a repository and referactory. I am sure I have seen examples of this as well although they escape me at the moment. I wonder if a library as referactory is taking away from the classes offered at an institution. From the articles we read I understood what differentiates a referactory from repository is that the former offers guidelines on how to use a resource. If this is true then doesn't that restrict how it is used within the context of a course? Are we back to the reusibility paradox or am I missing something?


  1. Had a look at the Northern Lakes College Library and noticed quite a few of the resources required a logon and password which tells me they are restricted to registered students. To me that says “private collection not available without permission.” And that suggest the school still thinks of information not as a common resource but in the traditional notion of privileged resource or a tool of advantage.

    The Portage College library does the same and I see it as a misuse of information gathered at public expense to put it behind a wall like this. It may be that I’m being too strict in my definition of OER as implying no restrictions to access? Too simplistic? Maybe restriction increases value and protects information from misuse; keeping it close to those best qualified to interpret and explain it? You mentioned referatories attaching guidelines to their available content. Wonder if we need to think of guidelines as laying strict context on top of the material or just suggesting best use? (Still not sure I understand the paradox anyway).

    In my search I went into the Portage library website as a random public visitor rather than as staff to see what was there. This netted me some interesting resources but I wonder if they’d be considered legitimate because they were so “public”?

  2. Hi Scott,
    Thanks for making these comments. I agree with your definition of OERs implying no restriction. I do not believe my institution actively supports OERs.
    I think you are probably right on in your suggestion that guidelines are meant to be used for best practice rather than restriction. I was just feeling paranoid :)