CLIR Issues Number 36
Changing Scholarly Communication
by Abby Smith
Digital Opportunity Investment Trust: A Digital Promise?
by David Seaman
TECHNOLOGY IS FUNDAMENTALLY transforming how scholarly information is created and disseminated. Although this transformation has been most evident in the sciences, experiments in scholarly communication have offered a glimpse of what technology has made possible in the social sciences and humanities as well. From the deep thematic collections developed at the University of Virginia's Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities to the Perseus Project at Tufts University to the Gutenberg-e projects sponsored by the American Historical Association and Columbia University Press, there is a rich variety of activities that bring together innovators from many domains to explore the new forms of communication that technology makes possible.
New projects in the social sciences and humanities have, however, rarely evolved into programs. Creating fundamental change in the processes of research and dissemination—change that can be sustained over time and across institutional boundaries—requires developing a cadre of leaders in various disciplines who are willing to explore new models of scholarship, to encourage and support those with whom they collaborate, and to mentor those who aspire to continue this work.
It is this vision that informs the Scholarly Communication Institute (SCI), which held its first session this summer at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. The aims of the SCI are to develop new forms of scholarly communication, particularly in the humanities and related social sciences, and to support the work of innovators in scholarship, librarianship, publishing, and technology. The institute is supported with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The first SCI, led by Deanna Marcum, formerly of CLIR, and Richard Lucier of Dartmouth College Library, was an invitational meeting for university administrators, scholars, and scholarly communication innovators. During sessions that mixed presentations and discussions, participants considered the requirements for an effective system of scholarly production and dissemination. They then sought to articulate the desirable futures for scholarly communication and the barriers that must be overcome to realize those futures.
The factors that participants identified as crucial in any effective system of scholarly communication fell largely into two areas: (1) factors that are discipline-specific, shaped and reinforced by the working habits and methods of a given discipline, such as preferred modes of research, established genres for publishing, and peer review; and (2) factors that are shaped by local campus circumstances, such as those that affect classroom teaching.
While courseware and learning technologies are crucial elements in any strong chain of scholarly discovery, knowledge creation, and knowledge dissemination, participants agreed that the issues most germane to teaching were connected to matters that are bounded by institutional policies and priorities. They therefore seemed less amenable to engagement by an institute such as SCI. Conversely, issues such as research and discovery methodologies, conventions of disseminating new knowledge, sharing data, peer review, and, to a large degree, even promotion review and tenure, are being determined by the evolution of disciplines. The SCI will focus its attention on disciplines, therefore, as they are changing under the influence of new investigative methodologies, new technologies, and the institutional policies that shape their development and adoption.
In future sessions, the SCI will involve scholars who are pushing the boundaries of disciplinary research methodologies and exploring new strategies of communication with peers as well as with students. In a weeklong residential experience, teams of scholars, librarians, publishers, and technologists will work in a technology-rich environment to explore institutional and discipline-based strategies for advancing innovation in scholarly communication. With the announced retirement of Richard Lucier from Dartmouth College Library, CLIR will partner in future sessions with the University of Virginia Library, under the leadership of University Librarian Karin Wittenborg. For more than a decade, the University of Virginia Library has been a leader in developing electronic centers for content development and dissemination. It has also collaborated actively with departmental centers of digital scholarship and publishing.
The next SCI will be held on the Charlottesville campus in the summer of 2004. Participation in each session will be limited to 15 individuals from the scholarly, library, publishing, and technology communities. Potential attendees must be nominated by their own institutions or by peers from other institutions. The agenda will feature structured interactions with senior scholars, publishers, librarians, and technologists, as well as unstructured time for participants to work informally together on some aspect of their ongoing work.
PARTICIPANTS IN THE Digital Library Federation's (DLF's) 2003 Fall Forum heard Michael Keller, chair of the DLF Steering Committee, announce the organization's intent to create something first envisioned at the time of the DLF's founding in 1995—a collaborative digital library that will provide global electronic access to collections in multiple institutions. The collaborative library—tentatively called the Distributed Open Digital Library, or DODL—will begin with public-domain materials in the humanities and social sciences and will incorporate numerous service layers, including an extensive finding service.
The next steps will be to raise money for some aspects of the DODL, to appoint a DODL coordinator, and to form a collections-development working group, which will plan content development, and a technical working group, which will develop an enabling infrastructure for DODL. The DODL coordinator, Mr. Keller noted, will be a DLF staff member but will not necessarily be based at the federation's headquarters in Washington, DC. As plans unfold, more information will be made available on the DLF Web site (www.diglib.org).
Mr. Keller explained that the groundwork for a distributed open digital library had been laid by a range of achievements by DLF members and others in the years since the DLF was established. Many of these achievements were in evidence at the forum, attended by about 150 participants and held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, November 17–19. Session presenters reported progress on tools and architectures for digital library work, on electronic resource management and preservation, and on understanding user needs and e-scholarship requirements.
Not all discoveries reported at the forum were technical. For example, digital librarians from the University of Washington recounted what they had learned from a retreat with faculty members who experiment with digital media in scholarship and teaching. Scholars at the retreat spoke enthusiastically of ways in which electronic technologies make possible new kinds of scholarship and more rapid communication of results than print permits. At the same time, they expressed a need for technical training, for information security, and for credit for e-scholarship in promotion and tenure decisions. Out of the retreat came proposals that the university's library create a center for digital scholarship and that the university create a degree-granting institute to support and study digital scholarship.
Several sessions provided updates on efforts to ensure the long-term preservation of digital resources, including e-scholarship. Without better preservation methods, problems with unstable media, system obsolescence, format proliferation, and Web site abandonment could jeopardize the future usefulness of the digital resources now being created, participants cautioned.
Representatives of the Library of Congress described steps to implement a congressionally approved and funded plan for a National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, which has developed an architectural model for federated digital preservation. Early in 2004, this new program will fund preservation research proposals from partnering institutions. Researchers at the Library of Congress also reported on evaluating the long-term sustainability of various digital formats.
Representatives of Stanford University described plans for implementation in 2004 of a preservation system called LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe), in which participating libraries will maintain identical digital content (initially e-journals) in "caches" that can check on and, when necessary, replenish each other. Efforts were also described to integrate proxy servers with LOCKSS so that users can retrieve from LOCKSS material that has become unavailable from publishers and incorporate within LOCKSS such complex material from the humanities as "hyperfiction." Other preservation sessions focused on work in transferring digital material to repositories, on keeping Web sites usable, and on preserving digital videos.
In the area of digital resource management, the forum included reports of progress in the DLF E-Resource Management Initiative, which is determining what functionality and metadata are required to enable librarians to manage electronic resources over time. Also described were developments in the LibData system, which aims to improve management and use of large databases of digital resources; in NAND, a tool for searching and browsing collections of data via the World Wide Web; and in the Data Extraction Web Interface System, which contains a suite of tools for processing, preserving, and delivering numeric data from social science collections.
In other sessions, representatives of the University of Chicago described their use of Greenstone digital library software to create the Chopin Early Editions, a digital collection of musical scores. Representatives of Cornell discussed their progress in developing a system for finding digital materials. Participants also heard an update on FEDORA (Flexible, Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture), through which repositories manage and deliver digital content of multiple kinds; an explanation of the use of Digital Item Declaration Language to represent objects in digital repositories; an analysis of metadata issues involved in capturing large digital archives; and a report on creation of a Union Catalog of Art Images. Updates were presented on two National Science Digital Library projects and on electronic resource services being developed by the Research Libraries Group and the Online Computer Library Center.
In the plenary session, Mr. Keller also announced that the Steering Committee had recently decided to open DLF membership to libraries abroad that are prominent in digital library development.
DLF Director David Seaman concluded the forum by announcing that the 2004 forums will be in New Orleans in the spring and Baltimore in the fall. Specific information will be posted on the DLF Web site. Additional information about the 2003 forum is also posted on this site.
CLIR IS NOW accepting applications for its new Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Scholarly Information Resources. Offered in conjunction with several academic research institutions, the fellowship program aims to develop a new kind of scholarly information professional who can link the rapidly changing world of scholarship with the similarly changing library.
The program seeks scholars who have recently completed, or will have completed by the summer of 2004, a humanities Ph.D. and who believe that there are opportunities to develop productive linkages among disciplinary scholarship, libraries and archives, and evolving digital tools. The one- to two-year fellowships will provide hands-on experience relating to the opportunities and challenges facing scholarship at research libraries.
Ten to fifteen fellowships will be awarded in 2004. The fellowship will pay a salary plus benefits. Fellows will carry out their work at academic research libraries that are participating in the program.
The fellowship will include two intensive seminars, at the beginning and end of the fellowship period, that will bring all fellows together for a common experience. The seminars will challenge participants to think broadly about the changes under way in research methodologies, the demands these changes place on academic institutions such as libraries and archives, the creation of new scholarly resources, and the role that scholars pursuing innovative career paths in libraries can play in shaping the future of scholarly resources management.
Upon completion of this fellowship, it is expected that participants will
- be positioned to pursue new career paths in the academy and to find challenging positions in campus libraries and research institutions;
- broaden expertise in the professions that support the creation, management, and dissemination of scholarly resources;
- gain skills and creativity in the management of scholarly resources; and
- bring subject-based expertise into the development and service of scholarly resources that will meet the rapidly changing needs of scholars for research and learning.
Details on the fellowship program, including information on the collaborating institutions and the application process, are available at www.clir.org/fellowships/postdoc/postdoc.html. The application deadline is January 31, 2004.
AUDIO RECORDINGS ARE one of the richest—and most imperiled—sources of information on the twentieth century. Although many librarians and archivists are keenly aware of the problem, which stems from the frailty of most recording media, developing strategies to save audio materials has been challenging. Audio preservation is fraught with problems, ranging from scant information with which to catalog an item to questions about copyright and the legal authority to copy recordings for preservation.
In September 2003, the Library of Congress (LC) asked CLIR to undertake a series of activities to advance the preservation of and access to the nation's recorded sound heritage on behalf of the National Recording Preservation Board (NRPB). The U.S. Congress has charged the NRPB to study and report on sound-recording preservation and restoration, especially areas of technology and copyright that might impede preservation and inhibit access under the fair-use doctrine. CLIR's activities for NRPB will take place under the auspices of LC's National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program.
In the coming year, CLIR and LC will convene a task force of audio preservation engineers to identify technological challenges to recorded sound preservation and make recommendations on how to meet those challenges. CLIR will also convene a small group of leading archivists, record industry managers, scholars, and legal analysts or representatives of music licensing agencies to identify issues that impede digital preservation and distribution of commercial sound recordings and radio broadcasts and to recommend solutions.
Finally, CLIR will commission and publish two reports on recorded-sound copyright law. The first report will address the digital preservation and digital distribution of pre-1972 commercial sound recordings, taking into account underlying works that may or may not be in the public domain. The second report will analyze digital preservation and digital distribution issues related to radio broadcast recordings, paying attention to the vague provenance of the original recording, the rights of trade unions and guilds, the lack of contractual documentation related to creation of the works, and the possible inclusion within the works of copyrighted underlying works.
Building successful strategies for audio preservation will require the participation of many stakeholders. The elevation of this issue to the national agenda is a promising step forward.
A NEW GUIDE from CLIR and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offers current, practical advice on the care and handling of optical media.
Care and Handling of CDs and DVDs: A Guide for Librarians and Archivists describes in nontechnical language the various types of CDs and DVDs now in use, how they are made, and how they work. It then distills current industry knowledge about disc longevity, conditions that affect life expectancy, and how to care for optical media. The guide is amply illustrated and includes a glossary and bibliography.
The guide's author, Fred R. Byers, is a technical staff member in the Convergent Information Systems Division of the Information Technology Laboratory at NIST.
Although written for librarians and archivists, the guide will be equally useful to any organization or individual wishing to safeguard CD or DVD collections.
Care and Handling of CDs and DVDs is available on CLIR's Web site at http://www.clir.org/pubs/abstract/pub121abst.html . The print version has been produced with spiral binding and a heavy cover. Print copies may be ordered through CLIR's Web site; the cost is $15 per copy, plus shipping and handling charges.
CLIR CONGRATULATES BOARD member Edward Ayers on being named 2003 Outstanding Doctoral and Research University Professor. Dr. Ayers is professor of history and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia.
The U.S. Professors of the Year Awards, created in 1981, are the only national honors specifically designed to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring. The awards are given by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
Dr. Ayers, an expert on Southern history, has written several books, including The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction, which was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1992. He received the James Harvey Robinson Prize from the American Historical Association and the E-Lincoln Prize for Best Digital Project for his digital archive, The Valley of the Shadow. Ayers, who is also a recipient of the Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia, earned an undergraduate degree in American studies from the University of Tennessee and a master's degree and Ph.D. in American studies from Yale University.
TWENTY BILLION DOLLARS is enough to get anyone's attention, and that is the target the Digital Promise organization has set for a Digital Opportunity Investment Trust ("DO IT"). The proposed $20-billion trust, using only funds from its earned interest (about $1 billion a year) would transform KÐ12 teaching, university research, and lifelong learning through a massive investment in new digital content and in the educational tools needed to make the best use of that content. After many years and many billions of dollars spent nationally to connect our classrooms, universities, and homes to the Internet, this plan proposes to finally fill those pipelines with rich, publicly accessible, educational content and context and to allow our educators to teach—and our students to learn—in innovative ways.
Where does one get $20 billion? For a transformational public good such as DO IT, one can look to a portion of the proceeds from the U.S. government's ongoing sale of the electronic spectrum ("the nation's airwaves," as DO IT calls it). DO IT leaders, in building their case, compare the scale and impact of this endeavor to that of the Land Grant Colleges Act of 1862 and the GI bill of the mid-twentieth century.
DO IT is based on the sale of the federal property of the twenty-first century—our public airwaves. Its ambitions are equally transformational, driving massive digitizing of library and museum holdings and funding the research needed to create the tools and services that professors, teachers, and citizens need to use digital material in new ways.
The idea is gaining momentum, and a host of educational and technology organizations, including the Digital Library Federation, the American Library Association, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public Television Stations, the Association of Research Libraries, the George Lucas Educational Foundation, and EDUCAUSE, have endorsed it. DO IT's leadership council and committee includes senior personnel from eBay, Google, IBM, the Internet Archive, RealNetworks, and 3Com.
The report to Congress, "Creating the Digital Opportunity Investment Trust (DO IT), A Proposal to Transform Learning and Training for the 21st Century," was released to all members of the Senate and House of Representatives on October 23, 2003, with its sponsors, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Rep. Ralph Regula (R-OH), on hand to receive it. Writing on the subject in the July 9, 2003, edition of The Hill newspaper, Thomas Bliley (R-VA), former chair of the House Commerce Committee, described why this must be an initiative of the government and not simply of the market. "Such are the rightful investments of government: to do collectively those things that cannot, or will not, be done privately, but that nonetheless must be done. If there was a reasonable profit to be made in lifelong learning over the Internet, there'd be no need for DO IT; in its absence, Congress and the White House must act, and soon," Rep. Bliley wrote.
DO IT's proponents are quick to see the commercial benefit of the project, despite its public funding and mandate. It is not hard for any of us to imagine the value-added services, aggregations, hardware, software, and basic research and development that a massive infusion of new digital content and research monies could stimulate. As DO IT's Report to Congress says, "Although underlying content would be in the public domain, commercial firms will have the ability to make enhancements to the content, develop future alterations, and provide distribution and customer support."
A congressional vote on the creation of DO IT is at least several months away. If the bill is approved, it would take several months to establish an organization to administer the funds. Digital Promise maintains a Web site (www.digitalpromise.org) that provides legislative updates as well as the report submitted to Congress.
The digital divide is an enduring problem, locally and globally, and simple connectivity and access to the Internet are still major social and educational needs. Once access is achieved, however, the paucity of publicly accessible content becomes evident, as does the lack of friendly and sophisticated tools that can help us interact with digital images, maps, movies, simulations, and books. DO IT offers a compelling strategy for a national investment that addresses this lack. It also provides a glorious glimpse of resources for education, training, and lifelong learning that finally exploit the potential of the digital medium.
Reflecting on Leadership. Three library directors reflect on the personal qualities that produce leadership. Karin Wittenborg, Chris Ferguson, and Michael Keller.
Business Planning for Cultural Heritage Institutions. A framework and resource guide to help cultural heritage institutions plan for sustainable digital asset management programs. Liz Bishoff and Nancy Allen.
E-Powering the People: South Africa's Smart Cape Access Project. A report on the project to bring computers and the Internet to disadvantaged neighborhoods in Cape Town, South Africa. Smart Cape was the recipient of this year's Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Access to Learning Award. Susan Valentine.
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