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KeepIt repositories initial survey: NECTAR

After looking first at the EdShare repository, the second of our exemplar surveys looks at NECTAR, the institutional repository for the University of Northampton.

Our approach to repository preservation is founded on recognising the motivations, objectives and activities of the individual repository, rather than the other way around. So in the initial surveys of the four exemplar repositories in the KeepIt project, we are seeking to characterise the repositories not in terms of their preservation activity but in terms of factors that will influence possible preservation strategies.


Current status of repository

JISC start-up repository project to end March 2009, now embedded institutional service.


The University of Northampton’s open access institutional repository. Its purpose is to showcase university research to the world. NECTAR will make full content available whenever possible (from official statement)

Internally the repository has been supported by senior institutional management to serve primarily as an institutional record of all research outputs (describing research activity) for research reporting and assessment purposes. This stops short of a requirement for the records to be accompanied by full-text.

Management structure and decision-making, reporting tree

Repository manager (reports to) Deputy Director, Information Services (reports to) Director, Information Services.
NECTAR steering group will meet annually (or more frequently as necessary).

Staffing (no. FTE)

Ongoing support for NECTAR from eleven permanent staff:

  • six NECTAR administrators (one from each School – to collate and enter research outputs) (6 x 0.05 FTE)
  • five others from Information Services (INS):
    • two metadata experts (to check and enhance metadata) (2 x0.1 FTE)
    • one technical person – (to support EPrints) (0.1FTE)
    • one administrator (to gather full content, undertake IPRchecking, etc.) (0.1 FTE)
    • one repository manager (0.3 FTE)
  • Total = 1.0 FTE approx.

Academic librarians promote NECTAR as part of their general liaison activities.

Policy (documentation, e.g. mandate, format policy, retention policy, take down policy?)

Planning the repository (formal planning approach?)

NECTAR is the responsibility of INS and will be planned and managed by the management team in 2, above.

Budget (contingency for preservation?)

Not yet fixed. Current funding on a ‘value for money basis’. Software cost incurred through contract with EPrints Services.

Infrastructure (institutional, network, etc.)

Hosted on a dedicated INS server, with a test server also available for backup and test of new code changes.
Main server is backed up as part of regular INS security procedures.
Repository software support under contract with EPrints Services.

Tools, services and support (which v. EPrints?)

version: eprints-3.0.5 (soon to upgrade to 3.1)

Storage (current, strategy?)

No immediate requirement to expand storage beyond infrastructure provision.

Content profile – volume, types, formats (content control?)


archive: 1458, buffer: 265, inbox: 96, deletion: 4, eprint: 1824
document: 57 (objects attached to eprint records)

Mediated deposit only.
No versioning issues: only one version permitted, following publication

Growth projections (scaling up?)

Expect approx 500 new metadata records p.a. but could rise (allow for 1000 records p.a.)
Possible growth in metadata records from School of Arts.

Future plans for the repository (any major changes planned?)

Add social Web features – build NECTAR into an online ‘social’ space for researchers; incorporating file sharing and storage, limited version control and semi-automatic update of NECTAR.


  • Well managed repository, achieving institutional records-keeping objective
  • Strong technical support, locally and through software services
  • Well developed policy statement; bold on preservation
  • Limited full-text content (most or all in pdf format); growth of data volumes not expected to change significantly, at least in short-term
  • Unclear budget allocations

Proposed actions

  • Advice/training:
    • policy: assess feasibility of commitments made
    • costing for preservation
    • monitor updates to risk profiles for pdf versions
  • Upgrade to (preservation-supported) EPrints v3.2 when available (by discussion and agreement of Project Management and EPrints Services)

These are relatively light NECTAR-specific actions at this stage resulting, it should be noted, not just from the limited availability of full-text content but also from good management. Not to forget this is an initial survey, and more issues are likely become apparent as we progress.

Thanks to Miggie Pickton for help in compiling this profile.

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