digital resource: JAIRO

Today I’d like to introduce a digital resource that I’ve found phenomenally helpful in the past: Japan Institutional Repositories Online, or JAIRO.

This is exactly what it sounds like: a federated search for Japanese institutional repositories (IRs), with (of course) downloadable PDF full text of all the works that are in the database.* What’s amazing (to me) about JAIRO is that, unlike my stereotype of IR, it contains not only academic papers but theses and dissertations (which are also included in University of Michigan’s Deep Blue and many other American IRs), entire books, pieces of software, datasets, presentations, conference papers, and various types of bulletin and technical papers. Check it out:

The number of institutions involved in JAIRO is similarly mind-blowing. There’s no total listed on the page, but it’s well over a hundred, including universities ranging from Okinawa Christian Junior College to Waseda University. JAIRO also provides a separate full list of all IRs in Japan, 200 long, with links to each.

The content tends toward the scientific, but I’ve certainly found a large number of humanities resources. It’s great to have so many “departmental bulletin papers,” as they’re called, because the length and content of these is comparable to a “normal” journal article and they’re both current research and much, much easier to get in digital form. I’ve used several in my research already and have found them to be, hands down, the most valuable sources on the topics they cover.*

JAIRO has both a simple and advanced search, and it’s quite easy to use and browse through. Because it’s a site run by the National Institute of Informatics (NII) it also has some analysis of data about its own contents; additionally, that analysis is used to provide links to popular and new materials on the front page.

In comparison to the IRs I’ve used in the past, JAIRO’s interface is a miracle of both utility and usability (again, leave it to NII to create something this good): it’s powerful, easy to use, and quickly delivers you the content that you want. And it adds significant value by including even items as small as a list of frequently downloaded material or their (admittedly small) list of papers related to the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

JAIRO is a project that falls under the umbrella of NII Institutional Repositories Program, which also includes the fascinating NII Institutional Repositories Database Contents Analysis with detailed statistics, graphs, and downloadable TSV files of data on IRs in Japan. JAIRO is also a search target of PORTA, the National Diet Library (NDL)’s digital archive search portal, which I’ve written about previously.

So my question to my readers is this: Is there anything like this resource for American or other English-language IRs? Anything like the PORTA digital archive federated search and portal? These are amazing resources and I only wish that I could search American universities’ IRs in the same powerful way.

* A caveat: I have no idea if it’s searching these multiple databases in real time or if it’s indexed and cached everything for search. (Reader question: does it still count as federated search if it’s not real-time?) Regardless, JAIRO retrieves results that would otherwise have to be accessed from over a hundred separate databases on their own individual sites.

** Two that come to mind are on the Meiji revival of Ihara Saikaku, and the posthumous reception of Kitamura Tōkoku.

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