This page is for the use of people interested in learning about the evolution of ProQuest's support of its institutional publishing partners and their campus repositories. Over the last decade, ProQuest has actively supported its partners' interest in increasing access to and dissemination of their scholarly work.
An excellent definition of an "institutional repository" was provided by Clifford Lynch who characterized it as, "...a set of services that a university offers to members of its community for the management and dissemination of digital materials created by the institution and its community members." (Lynch, http://www.arl.org/resources/pubs/br/br226/br226ir.shtml).
The development of insitutional repositories (IRs) is tied to the "Open Access" movement in higher education. As subscriptions to important scholarly journals continued to soar throughout the late 1990s and into the next decade, faculty and librarians sought ways to exercise greater control over the access and dissemination of their institutional scholarly work. The idea of each institution providing free and "open access" to the work of their own scholars was thought to be an approach that, not only would be more cost effective than subscriptions, but would allow the work to enjoy wider visibility.
Among the 6000+ repositories listed at OpenDOAR (http://www.opendoar.org/index.html), 2149 of these repositories are "open access" and 1700+ of the open access repositories are identified as "institutional" repositories. According to this same source, a little over 1200 of these open access (IRs) host dissertations and theses.
Over time, a good number of the institutions hosting these repositories have successfully increased the variety of content depositied to their IRs. Along with dissertations and theses, IRs are hosting journal articles, working papers, multimedia, conference and workshop papers. As the open access ethos and depositing to the IR are normalized activities among successive generations of faculty, dissertations and theses material will be dwarfed by the other types of content. In time, setting costs aside, IRs will be institutionalized.