The University Library, working with CITES, have recently developed a digital repository for the University of Illinois community. Called IDEALS (Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship), the repository will serve as a permanent and secure online home for work produced by University of Illinois faculty and scholars. In May of 2006, IDEALS began a "soft rollout", adding documents from early adopters. Interested members of the U of Illinois campus should contact Sarah Shreeves, IDEALS Coordinator for more information.
Digital repositories are a means of permanently capturing the scholarly output of an institution, especially "gray" works: conference papers, pre-prints, datasets, and other forms of scholarship that don't usually see formal publication. In addition to gray literature, it is often possible to place post-print versions of your refereed articles in repositories (find out more about publishers' policies on this issue, and how you can negotiate more control over your intellectual property).
There are also discipline-specific (rather than institution-specific) repositories; the most well-known and widely used examples are arXiv.org, the physics repository and PubMed Central, for biomedical and life sciences journal literature. Browse or search the OpenDOAR -- The Directory of Open Access Repositories -- for a suitable repository in your field.
As a form of Open Access publishing, digital repositories are a way of dramatically increasing the audience for your work. The Illinois repository will comply with standards that allow materials to be discovered and indexed by public search engines like Google, Google Scholar, and Yahoo, as well as more specialized engines that search across multiple digital repositories such as OAIster.
You can also think of the repository as a permanent backup for your work: the University and the Library are committed to providing long-term access to materials placed in the repository, and will be vigilant about securing and backing up its data.
Finally, institutional repositories can speed the dissemination of scholarship by making your research available much more quickly than traditional forms of publishing. See also the Self-Archiving FAQ at eprints for a discussion of WHY you should consider depositing your work.
Please note that the institutional repository is meant to complement, rather than replace, traditional, refereed scholarly publishing. IDEALS will enforce quality control to the extent that all its materials will be the product of University of Illinois scholarship, but there will be no formal peer-review mechanism in place.
IDEALS will implement widely-used and well-supported institutional repository software that makes it as easy as possible for you to submit your work to the repository. Web-based forms will allow you to quickly upload files and supply associated data for them.