8 Feb 2021

Digital Commons at CCT College Dublin: Reflections on A Work Placement

Authored by Amy Fitzpatrick.
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amy-fitzpatrick-538389bb/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/amyfitz902


In October of 2020, I graduated from Dublin Business School with an MSc in Information and Library Management which is validated by Quality and Qualifications Ireland and accredited by the Library Association of Ireland (LAI). The programme gave me a thorough and applied grounding in a range of traditional and technical modules such as records management, information technology as well as a recently introduced module on open librarianship.  As part of the Open Librarianship module which is taught by Jane Buggle and Niamh Brennan, I undertook the library publishing curriculum produced by the Library Publishing Coalition in partnership with Educopia and PKP.

The Library Publishing Coalition defines Library Publishing as:

 ‘the set of activities led by college and university libraries to support the creation, dissemination, and curation of scholarly, creative, and/or educational works. Generally, library publishing requires a production process, presents original work not previously made available, and applies a level of certification to the content published, whether through peer review or extension of the institutional brand. Based on core library values, and building on the traditional skills of librarians, it is distinguished from other publishing fields by a preference for Open Access dissemination as well as a willingness to embrace informal and experimental forms of scholarly communication and to challenge the status quo.’  Sarah Lippincott. 2016. “The Library Publishing Coalition: Organizing Libraries to Enhance Scholarly Publishing”.  Insights  29 (2): 186–91.

 In addition to the publication of journals and monographs, the publication of theses and other scholarly materials on institutional repositories are also categorised as library publishing activities. I found the Open Librarianship module on the MSc in Information and Library Management really interesting.  I was particularly interested in the attitudes of higher education librarians towards library publishing activities within their institutions. This interest informed my thesis which was entitled “Investigating the Effects of the Implementation of Open Access Publishing on the Roles of Academic Librarians”. In this study, I surveyed academic librarians in the Dublin region. The interviewees discussed how metrics generated by their institutional repositories could be used to demonstrate to institutional stakeholders the demand for scholarly content on an open access basis. Institutional repositories also stimulated other publishing initiatives, such as journal and monograph publications.


In November 2020, I was delighted to commence a work placement with the Hume Library at CCT College Dublin under the supervision of Justin Smyth and Marie O’Neill. CCT College Dublin is a member of the Higher Education Colleges Association. It offers business and ICT courses up to level 9 of the National Framework for Qualifications, and boasts a newly built library managed by Justin Smyth, a graduate of UCD’s Masters in Library and Information Studies. He is also a member of the LAI’s National Library Week Ireland taskforce and of the LAI’s Open Science Group. Marie O’ Neill is Head of Enhancement at CCT and a Council member of the LAI. She is also a member of the Library Publishing Group.  Marie and Justin are also both members of the HECA Library Committee.

The focus of the placement was working with CCT’S institutional repository, ARC (Academic Research Collection). ARC has been developed using Digital Commons software. Although it is in the early stages of development, ARC collects and showcases the scholarly activity of CCT in accordance with the institution’s Research Strategy. ARC captures a wide variety of scholarly activities, including conference presentations, the publication of academic papers, and institutional reports, as well the outputs of the CCT Excellence in Teaching series and the College’s Certificate in Teaching and Learning. One of the six priorities of CCT’s research strategy was to establish an institutional repository that will “showcase faculty and student research on an open access basis”.

Reporting to Justin and Marie, I was specifically tasked with working on ARC and other recently acquired Bepress platforms. An interesting aspect of the placement was that it was conducted remotely due to the lockdown conditions at the time. I was unable to work within the Hume library itself but despite this, both Justin and Marie made sure that I was accommodated for by providing remote access to the materials and software that I needed. Our virtual meetings were conducted every other day and I received constant support by email. I also helped to populate CCT’s Expert Gallery which is a database of staff profiles that collates their individual scholarly activities.

One of the primary tasks of ARC management was to upload students’ final year applied projects to the repository. There is an institutional mandate (with an opt-out facility) for undergraduate and postgraduate work with a mark of 2.1 and upwards to be deposited into ARC on an open access basis. This mandate was put in place by the CCT Academic Council and aligns with the goals of the CCT Research Strategy.  The inclusion of high quality student work on ARC represents an invaluable teaching and learning tool. Students can instantly see what a high-quality project looks like. Additionally, ARC can act as a powerful medium for showcasing how the library can support students. A study conducted by Erin Passehl-Stoddart and Robert Monge posits that by including student works in institutional repositories, students will be incentivised to work “towards instilling better information literacy standards, including scholarly communication”. By introducing students to scholarly publishing at an earlier stage in their academic career, their understanding of the research cycle can grow. The library is also better positioned to capture more of this output.

Notably, all records collected on ARC are also added to the Digital Commons network, a database containing the collections of every Digital Commons repository. This promotes the content of ARC on an international level. A list comprising of the 600 institutions within the Digital Commons network can be found at https://bepress.com/categories_wdc/all-institutions/. CCT College Dublin is included in this list, as well as being listed in the international Library Publishing Directory. Digital Commons provides a controlled vocabulary that can be added to ARC records that makes them universally searchable within the network, adding to their visibility and access.

Benefits of Placement

During the placement, I was able to put into practice the multitude of skills that I learned during my Masters. I was also provided with the opportunity to put theory into practice. Examples of those opportunities are listed below:

·         Gained practical library experience.

·         Harvested academic content for inclusion on ARC.

·         Liaised with both library and academic personnel across the college.

·         Liaised with the Digital Commons team and other third parties.

·         Reviewed the taxonomy of CCT’s Academic Records Collection (ARC) to suggest changes and refine its existing categories.

A particular highlight for me was attending a digital commons event in which Marie and Justin spoke about ARC at CCT. The presentation was hosted on a live-streaming platform and I sat in on the session as an observer. It was wonderful to see the engagement that Marie and Justin received in the question-and-answer portion of their presentation, as it illustrated that the audience recognised the value in developing an institutional repository.

The placement proved beneficial for CCT’s library department as well. As a graduate of a library school, I already had a theoretical knowledge of how institutional repositories operated, as well as how they functioned within the wider context of an academic library. I was able to suggest edits to the categories used on ARC in order to refine its searching capabilities. As well as this, library staff receive monthly readership reports from Digital Commons and the reports generated after my placement indicate increased engagement with the repository.


CCT College Dublin has recently finalised discussions with both DBS and UCD to take one graduate from each library school on placement per year going forward. Digital Commons will remain a feature of the placement.

Completing my Masters, my thesis, the Library Publishing Curriculum, and the Digital Commons placement has highlighted the cutting-edge developments within the open access and library publishing arenas for me. As a recent graduate, I am looking forward to continuing to study these developments as they grow and advocating for further library publishing initiatives.