Business Law

Increasing Awareness and Use of an Institutional Repository: The Power of an Intranet and a Starbucks Gift Card

Zehava Brickner |

Zehava Brickner is a solo librarian at the Vera Institute of Justice. She holds an MLS from the Graduate School for Library and Information Studies at Queens College and is interested in taxonomies and exploring issues of copyright, user rights, and access to information. She continues to be fascinated by bibliographic citation managers and enjoys teaching people how to use them.

DORC is a commonly used word around the halls of the Vera Institute of Justice. The Vera Institute combines expertise in research, demonstration projects, and technical assistance to help leaders in government and civil society improve the systems people rely on for justice and safety. The Institute’s Louis Schweitzer Library supports the information needs of the Institute and demonstration project staff. DORC, an acronym for Digital Organizing Research Collection, is Vera’s private institutional repository that preserves and stores all of Vera’s work product in electronic format. This includes all reports published by Vera, newsletters, grant proposals, and scholarly articles published by Vera employees. It’s not the name of the repository that matters (or that it doesn’t even use proper English!), it’s the fact that all employees know and use this resource.

Vera has had an archive for the past several years, but it was only ever known by the name DSpace, which is the open source software the repository was built in. Until a little more than a year ago, most Vera staff didn’t even know there was an institutional archive, let alone know what it contained. Even when it was accessed, it did not look like a Vera resource—instead of Vera’s name or logo, there was a big DSpace logo on the upper left-hand corner. It was clear that we needed to rebrand and re-launch this resource if we were ever going to expect employees to use it on a regular basis.

Here’s a glimpse of our archive before the re-launch:
This publication is available on our website at

 When the Institute was rolling out its new intranet platform, we decided to use the intranet’s blog to get employees involved in the archive reboot and upgrade. Our goals were twofold: publicize the library and its resources and promote the intranet itself, which, as the librarian, I co-administer. We held a contest to name the archive, and we used the intranet blog to solicit entries from staff. (We also offered a Starbucks gift card as a prize, which probably contributed to staff participation!) By running the contest through the blog, we cut back on e-mail correspondence and were able to get a sense of how people were using of the intranet.

We received more than twenty-five name suggestions, including several from employees based in our Washington DC office. This was particularly pleasing because one of our intranet goals was to connect with staff who did not primarily work at Vera’s New York City headquarters. We narrowed the list down to five names and posted them on the intranet, asking staff to vote for their favorite. In the end, “DORC” won, and in the process we were able to publicize the archive as a resource for staff.

Along with the renaming, we gave the archive interface a facelift. The DSpace logo was replaced with Vera’s logo, and the new name DORC was proudly displayed on the left-hand side. We also changed all colors in the repository to reflect the Vera-brand, purple. Now, when the archive is accessed, it’s clear that is it a Vera resource.

Here is what our upgraded, rebranded repository looks like: 
An example of a publication in DORC. This publication is available on our website at

Since the renaming and re-launch, DORC has become an essential tool for employees doing research and looking for past publications. Our intranet, which includes a link to DORC on its homepage, continues to play a key role in publicizing the archive to current and new staff. We also designated specific Vera staff as archive administrators so that knowledge of DORC was spread across the Institute. The Communications Department is vital in uploading new publications, and other key staff members are responsible for uploading grant proposals and other documents. As the librarian, I continue to be the main archive administrator, liaising with The Longsight Group (the consulting firm that supports the archive) and assigning subject terms for each record.

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