Academic institutions need digital respositories to serve as a storage and retrieval site for their institutionally produced photographs, art collections, videos, and archival textual material. Digital commons might be a better word for this type of purpose.
Institutions whose faculty are creating research data for federally funded research must have a digital repository in order to share these data openly with the rest of the nation.
Still more colleges and universities have adopted open access policies under which all faculty reserve the right and responsibility to deposit final drafts of their publication manuscripts and accompanying research data into its campus digital repository. This reserves the right for a campus to retain part of the rights to its research that it pays for through its faculty salaries and support for research. It also helps promote the scholar's research and to raise the profile of the institution to prospective hires and prospestive students.