Mana’o Self Archiving Repository

After a long summer delay wondering what was up with the Mana’o repository, today I finally got word that yes, it is officially shutting its doors [it has unofficially been down all summer due to the operation being run on a personal home server]. Alex Golub, who spearheaded the project has asked others to pick it up – and I’m quite sure that with all the information cataloged in it that someone will do so.

I offered to help host the archive, as prior to studying anthropology I worked as a web developer and system administrator. And being the lazy bastard I am, I would never in a million years try to host something on my home server – far too much work.

What I would love to do, is to take the Mana’o archive, change its name to “The Open Anthropology Self Archiving Repository”, and to introduce a new form of “openness”. To do this, we need to step backwards a decade, back to the days when hundreds of small operations where trying to figure out how to make use of the internet. Back then, when servers often sucked, and when costs for bandwidth where more attrocious, people would use a Web 1.0 technology called “mirroring”.

So here is my proposal:

Open the Mana’o repository so that anyone who wants to can setup a mirror of it. Use basic internet technologies to manage the mirroring. Then we could invite multiple universities to participate. By inviting multiple universities to get involved, and anyone else interested, the project would become an “open project” of sorts. Libraries could contribute, and benefit from the openness, by contributing a little time to help catalog entries and ensure copyright issues are dealt with properly.

This is important because almost every university is currently developing its own institutional self-archiving repository, and due to this a lot of work is being redone over and over. Institutional repositories are also important, but they also tend to suck for the very same reasons Mana’o did – they can never get enough manpower.

Either way, I agree completely with Alex Golub that the repository is valuable enough that I’m not too worried about it not being picked up. One option is to host it on the Open Anthropology Cooperative, and that is a great start. But I really think bringing in multiple libraries and universities, and allowing them all to post their little logos for branding, will help in the long run.

Previous related posts:

“Why the delay”

“Self-Archiving Repositories”

“Self-Archiving and Anthropology v2”

“Self Archiving and Anthropology – Not There Yet”


7 responses to this post.

  1. Great idea. We need an independent repository like Mana’o. On the other hand, universities will continue to use their own archives. What we need then is an overview over all the archives (I’ve started to collect links a while ago) and a search engine.


  2. Posted by Paul Wren on August 27, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Amazon offers their S3 solution for scalable redundant storage, and it’s really cheap. It might be a highly reliable way to host the repository. Just a thought…


    • Posted by Owen Wiltshire on August 27, 2009 at 8:10 pm

      that would definitely work. I thought the mirroring might be a nice way to get multiple libraries and universities involved, but it is very 1995.

      I guess the problem isn’t technology, but getting a stable person / group of people to keep it going. Going to email more people to find out whats up, and I’m still listening in on the OA list to find out what the options are.

      But I think the big time sink is editing the papers and maintaining the database. I’m not sure what software Mana’o used, but time to find volunteer editors i guess. Same issue journals have!


  3. I hope something like this happens. There might be personal obstacles to such an open project, but it’s quite clear that the tools exist and that you’re one to know how to use them.


  4. Posted by Owen Wiltshire on August 28, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    If I could ditch this thesis and move on to productive tasks like keeping Mana’o up – i’d jump at the opportunity. But I have a few walls to break down before this thesis is finished. Massive massive walls that exist only in my head!


  5. Posted by John (Mana'o Librarian) on September 20, 2009 at 1:07 am

    Owen, the problem is definitely having a stable infrastructure – if someone would offer a reliable server that someone can maintain, there are already enough people interested to manage the rest. Ideally, a university would take it up (reliable infrastructure) but I’m sure there are other possibilities.

    Mana’o ran on eprints which I found to be very easy to use and maintain (it’s the best repository software in my opinion). I don’t think it would be that difficult to suck the data off of the current box, but even if we couldn’t, I have most or all of the files in my email or on my computer at work and it wouldn’t be super difficult to re-do the metadata.


    • Posted by Owen Wiltshire on September 20, 2009 at 2:30 pm

      Dear John,

      Thank you very much for writing. I’d love to help host the repository, and will contact even more people at Concordia to convince them to go for the opportunity.

      If I can’t get them involved, I’d be happy to get the site running on a professional host somewhere – ala Amazon Paul suggested. I like professional hosting companies because they automate all the backups and so on.

      I’ve sent you an email to hopefully get all this going.



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