Point & Counterpoint The Purpose of Institutional Repositories: Green OA or Beyond?

  • Rebecca Kennison (Director, Center for Digital Research and Scholarship, Columbia University)
  • Sarah L Shreeves (IDEALS Coordinator and Scholarly Commons Co-Coordinator, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
  • Stevan Harnad (Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Sciences, Université du Québec à Montréal)


Institutional repositories (IRs) have a conflicted history in terms of purpose. Although always closely associated with the open access movement, in particular open access to the published research through self-archiving (“Green” OA), an approach long championed by Stevan Harnad (e.g., Harnad, 1999) and others, some of the most influential and visionary early essays on IRs speak of them as providing infrastructure for the stewardship of a wide range of institutional output (Lynch, 2003) and as a new way for libraries to support publishing functions (Crow, 2002). And while many libraries have concentrated on green OA to fill their IRs—with or without mandates, always with mixed success— many more have slowly but surely built successful, thriving IRs by providing stewardship of and access to the grey literature, the theses and dissertations, the undergraduate research, and the research data produced on their campuses. In fact, we would argue that libraries are better placed to implement green OA resolutions and mandates when their IR is already well populated and well used with other critical institutional content. An IR should focus on the “I”—on the output of the institution, created by individual researchers producing much more than published peer-reviewed articles.

How to Cite:

Kennison, R. & Shreeves, S. L. & Harnad, S., (2013) “Point & Counterpoint The Purpose of Institutional Repositories: Green OA or Beyond?”, Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication 1(4), eP1105. doi:

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Published on
27 Sep 2013
Peer Reviewed