Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to review the recent literature about institutional repositories (IRs) including the benefits and possible obstacles of setting up an IR. It will also discuss librarians' and authors' participative roles and open access. In conclusion, the paper aims to consider the future of IRs and finally makes recommendations for their successful implementation in academic institutions. Design/methodology/approach – This paper is based on the recently published literature discussing current trends in IRs; although, some historical reference is also necessary to provide background to the open access movement and the early development of IRs. Given that the paper is an account of the history and current status of IRs, a formal documented methodology is not applicable. Findings – The discussion suggests that in spite of all the obstacles to successful implementation, including associated negative perceptions, IRs have been increasingly recognised as a vital tool for scholarly communication and an important source of institutional visibility and a viable source of institutional knowledge management. Research limitations/implications – This paper is an expression of opinion about current trends and future applications of IRs. It is not based on any formal methodology. This paper will be useful for librarians, academic staff and academic institutions generally, especially in developing countries where IRs are still in a developmental stage. Therefore, some of the general recommendations may not be as relevant for those institutions with well-established and flourishing IRs. Practical implications – The paper is aimed at institutions with low-use repositories. It can be used to persuade management to establish institutional policies and it can also be helpful in clarifying the role of the library. It is also aimed at institutions considering initial development of an IR. The paper outlines the implications for IR practice for different groups, namely authors, librarians and academic administrative staff. It could, therefore, be used to persuade and influence different sets of stakeholders at institutions with under-populated or embryonic IRs, about the value of open access, the importance of depositing material and the potential functionality afforded by IR packages. Originality/value – The paper provides a review of the status of IRs and brings together topics previously reported on in isolation.
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