ORBi is the result of a reflection started in the 2000s. The first version of ORBi was launched in 2008.
In 2001, the members of the BICfB (Bibliothèque Interuniversitaire de la Communauté française de Belgique) started the development of the first Open Access institutional database initiative: BICTEL/e.
The goal of the project? To collect the full texts of theses produced within the French-speaking Belgian universities on a single platform and to make access to them open to everyone.
In 2006, the Board of Directors of the University of Liège took the decision to make it compulsory for all PhD students within the institution to submit their thesis, in whole or in part, to the BICTEL/e directory of the University of Liège. In 2007, the Board of Directors of the University Faculty of Agronomic Sciences of Gembloux (FUSAGx) decided to follow suit.
Since 2004, the BICfB had been considering the possibility of organising, in university academies, institutional databases that included all types of publications. The pilot phase of this study started for the Wallonia-Europe Academy in January 2005, thanks in part to a budget allocated for this purpose by the BICfB.
At the University of Liège, a team was formed at the request of Bernard Rentier, Rector of the University of Liège, and under the supervision of Paul Thirion, Director of the Library Network, both fervent promoters of Open Access.
The pilot phase had the following objectives:
Four target groups took part in this pilot phase:
More than 1,500 publications were analysed during the pilot phase.
The publications of the target groups were reviewed on the basis of the copyright and self-archiving policies of the publishers as reported by SHERPA-RoMEO.
The study showed that:
The publishers with no available information were questioned, the answers received were transmitted to SHERPA/Romeo, and a collaboration was set up.
The pilot phase demonstrated that authors do not necessarily keep a copy of the text of their articles accepted for publication. This posed a problem, as most authors will only allow their author version to be submitted to an institution.
After research, a procedure for reconstituting the author's version of the articles was developed, allowing for rapid and efficient processing.
The open source software DSpace, developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-MIT, was chosen for the development of the institutional database. This choice was justified by the performance and the potential of the tool, and also by the fact that several large institutions in Belgium and the world had already adopted this internationally recognised platform (University of Ghent, Université Libre de Bruxelles, MIT Libraries, University of Cambridge, University of Toronto, Université de Montréal).
A number of additional functions were added to make it better suited to the needs of the Institution, notably:
An ORBi team led by Paul Thirion was set up within the Réseau des Bibliothèques de l'Université de Liège. This team was made up of:
Legal issues were reviewed by Laurence Thys, the Library Network's legal officer.
They also received help and support from a number of colleagues from within the Library Network.
Within the University, they collaborated with:
As well as with:
At the suggestion of the Rector, the Board of Directors of the University of Liège, decided on 23 May, 2007 as the date for launching the ULg digithèque (The ULg mandate).
On 29 June, 2007 and 28 September, 2007, the Board of Directors of FUSAGx officially decided to join the project and adopted an institutional policy identical to that of the University of Liège.
Finally, November 2008 marked the official launch of ORBi, "Open Repository and Bibliography". ORBi also refers to the Latin phrase meaning "for the world", underlining the University's desire to make its scientific production available to everyone, without financial or technical constraints.
In the space of one year, all the ergonomic and desired functional development, as well as the necessary support tools had been developed and implemented. The authors of the University of Liège were now able to submit their references and the full texts of their publications.
The referencing on international search engines has been set up progressively increasing the visibility of the Institution’s scientific output.
The Board of Directors of the University of Liège decided on 23 May, 2007 to make it mandatory to:
The reference must be entered in ORBi as soon as the publication has been accepted by a publisher or as soon as the document can be considered as completed, in the case of oral communications for example.
Documents in the process of being submitted to the publisher, but that have not been accepted, should not be submitted.
On 17 September, 2014, the Board of Directors of the University of Liège chose to strengthen the mandatory submission mandate on ORBi. From that time:
• All references to publications by University of Liège authors have had to be entered into ORBi (no longer only those published since 2002)
• The submission of the full text of articles published since 2002 as soon as they have been accepted was made mandatory
• Evaluators have only been allowed to consider lists of publications originating in ORBi for the evaluation of the files for any request for an appointment, promotion or attribution of credit
• Theses contained in BICTEL/e have been integrated in ORBi
10 years of ORBiTo celebrate the 10 years of ORBi, ULiège Library organised a day of conferences on 20 November, 2018.