Within the context of the French-speaking Community of Belgium

In 2001, the French-speaking university libraries of Belgium, brought together within the BICfB (Interuniversity Library of the French-speaking Community of Belgium), developed their first initiative for an Open Access institutional directory, the BICTEL/e project. This project’s goal was to create a common directory in order to provide free online access in full text mode to a maximum amount of doctoral theses defended in the nine universities of the French-speaking Community of Belgium.

At the University of Liège, the Administrative Board decided in July 2006 to oblige - effective from October 1st 2006 - all of the ULiège's doctoral candidates to deposit their dissertations, fully or partially, on the ULiège's BICTEL/e directory, followed in June 2007 by the Administrative Board of the Faculty of Agronomic Sciences in Gembloux (FUSAGx), our academy partner.

By October 2009, more than 330 theses had already been deposited in the directories of BICTEL/e-ULg and BICTEL/e-FUSAGx.

In December 2004, the BICfB decided to take things a step further and to study the possibility of organizing on the level of the university academies’ institutional repositories, an expanded depositing to include all types of publication. The pilot phase of this project started for the Wallonia-Europe Academy in January 2005, thanks in part to a budget set aside by the BICfB. Since then, the latter supports its efforts in this area by reserving within its yearly budget the financial means to help the academies install their institutional servers.

For further information go to:

Deployment of the pilot project at the Wallonia-Europe University Academy

The implementation of the "Institutional Repository" plan, which perfectly matched the will and desire of the Library Network and the ULiège's Rector to firmly commit to Open Access, was right away seen as a priority development strand for the Library Network.

A project team was constituted and organized into three working groups (conception, assistance and promotion, business plan) within BICfB (see Pilot phase team). For the University of Liège, this team was placed directly under the leadership and supervision of the director of Library Network, Paul Thirion.

The pilot phase aimed at:

  • analyzing the specific character of the publications of the target groups as regards self-archiving, most particularly concerning publishers' policies in terms of Open Access;
  • detecting particular constraints linked to these characteristics;
  • drawing up a typology of documents as well as the metadata associated with them, in compliance with international standards;
  • putting in place methods, procedures and tools necessary to make widespread the use of the repository at the level of the Institution;
  • selecting a software platform and defining its development to adequately respond to the Institution’s requirements;
  • choosing and putting in place a certain number of services with added value facets;
  • devising the elements of an institutional policy in terms of self-archiving, to be submitted to the University authorities.

Four target groups participated in this pilot phase:

During the pilot phase, more than 1,500 publications were thus analyzed.

Analysis of editorial policies

Thanks to the site SHERPA-RoMEO, the publications of the target groups could be analyzed on the basis of publishers’ copyright and self-archiving policies.

The study revealed that almost 50% of the target groups' articles could be immediately deposited in an institutional directory. In the other cases, the publications could either not be archived (approx. 20%) or no information (approx. 30%) was available via SHERPA.

The publishers on which no information was available via SHERPA were systematically questioned by mail. The answers received were transferred to SHERPA, with which a collaboration had been set up, allowing them to supplement and complete their data.

Problems of authors' versions

The pilot phase has also provided insight into the fact that authors do not necessarily keep a copy of the text of their work, once it has been accepted for publication. This obviously causes problems in the case of self-archiving. In fact, numerous publishers accept archiving in an institutional repository but do so only in the author's original version (author postprint).

This makes it possible to study solutions to reconstitute an author’s version deprived of the publisher’s layout. A procedure has been implemented and optimized. Several hundred articles have been handled in this manner. The process time is approximately one to one and a half hours per article, with a very low error rate.

Choice of software and development of tools

The institutional repository functions on the free software platform of DSpace, as developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-MIT. The choice of DSpace was motivated by its capacity and tool options, but also influenced by the fact that several large institutions have equally adopted this internationally recognized platform, e.g.:

Numerous additional developments have been carried out to respond more adequately to the needs of the Institution. Categorization and classification systems have been assessed and set up, and the metadata structure has been checked in a way so as to make possible the interoperability of the repository with similar Belgian and foreign initiatives, while complying with the OAI-PMH protocol.

More information about these developments can be gained from the page Functionalities and services.

Internal/external collaboration

Numerous internal and external collaborations have been implemented within the framework of developing the institutional directory:

  • with the ULiège's Legal Affairs Department and Laurence Thys, lawyer, assistant at the Graulich Library (see also the page Legal aspects);

  • with different departments and units within the Uniserty of Liège, such as the Administration of Research and Development, the Web Unit , the Graphics Unit, the Information and Communication Technology Department, with the aim of:
    • defining a layout for the ORBi site in compliance with the standards of the new University site of 2008;
    • producing the ORBi logo;
    • interfacing the systems to allow automatic recovery in the submission process of each author's coordinates as presented in the ULiège directory;
    • implementing various additional service products (e.g. link from an author in the ULiège directory towards his/her list of publications on ORBi...);
  • with SHERPA/RoMEO. This tool is currently recognized by the academic community as the main source of information and the most reliable one in terms of publishers’ policies relative to self-archiving. Regular contacts with the database's managers have resulted in a collaboration concerning mainly:
    • the progressive integration into SHERPA/RoMEO of data resulting from our contacts with publishers during the pilot phase and in the course of subsequent contacts;
    • the automatic recovery of information from SHERPA/RoMEO in the submission process;
  • with the managers of the DRIVER-Belgium project.

Current contacts also include:

  • the Fund for Scientific Research, F.R.S.-FNRS (Belgium) in order to put in place export possibilities between ORBi and the F.R.S.-FNRS' bibliographic reference database;
  • the managers of journal databases (Ulrich, OCLC...) so as to integrate into the reference submission process an automatic verification tool for bibliographic data of journal titles. Such verification takes place in a local database as none of the available tools at this time consist of the required qualities in terms of the objectives pursued.

Official birth of ORBi

Upon a suggestion by the Rector, the ULiège's Administrative Board decided on May 23rd 2007 to create an open repository and bibliography for the University of Liège (ULiège mandate). The decision was confirmed to the ULiège community by the Rector through his blog on June 30th 2007. On June 29th and then again on September 28th 2007, the Administrative Board of FUSAGx officially decided to join the project and defined an institutional policy identical to that of the University of Liège.

November 2008 finally marked the official launch of ORBi. The acronym ORBi stands for "Open Repository and Bibliography". It also expresses the Latin word "orbi" ("for the world") and signals the will of the University to make its academic research even more available to everyone, without financial or technical constraints.

Within the space of a year, the whole of the desired ergonomic and functional developments as well as the necessary tools have been created and implemented. The ULiège's authors can put into the repository their references and the full texts of their publications. Referencing through international search engines is progressively being implemented, considerably enhancing the visibility of the Institution's academic research.