CLIR Issues Number 10
Academic Image Exchange Formed
by Rebecca Graham
Rescuing Social Science Data and Metadata
by Donald J. Waters
CLIR Briefings on New Agenda
by Deanna B. Marcum
Meeting the Need for Modern Greek Materials
by Kathlin Smith
Preserving Our Dance and Multimedia Collections
by Abby Smith
THE ACADEMIC IMAGE Exchange (AIE), sponsored by the Digital Library Federation and the College Art Association, is developing a prototype to provide curriculum-based images to faculty and students in support of the teaching and study of art history and related disciplines. Two elements essential and unique to the development of the AIE are the contribution of images by scholar-photographers working within the disciplines and the availability, at no cost, of images for educational and nonprofit use. A significant number of the art works taught in art history survey courses are in the public domain. Many faculty members in art history and related disciplines have developed slide collections of these works based on their own photography. The Academic Image Exchange provides a means by which scholars, researchers, and faculty can share these works to which they hold the rights or for which the rights have been cleared for educational purposes. Creating a digital core collection of works will provide Web-based resources for meeting a wide range of pedagogical needs.
The AIE development group is composed of art librarians, art and architectural historians, visual resource curators, photographers, and specialists in digital imagery and systems design. Members and staff of the Society of Architectural Historians, the College Art Association, the Digital Library Federation, the Yale University Library and the faculty of the Imaging Systems Laboratory of Carnegie Mellon University are contributing to the AIE development effort.
Initial efforts will focus on creating a prototype of the Academic Image Exchange based on an online concordance being developed that will connect images to standard art and architectural history survey texts. The database will initially aim to contain 50 percent of the estimated 2,000-2,500 images in the concordance, giving faculty and students access to a wider range of images than is currently available in any single text. An independent group of art historians will review images included in the prototype and will base their selections on overall image quality and suitability for teaching. Images included in the exchange will be suitable for both projection or viewing online. The project will support a range of possible uses and activities, such as shared cataloging, the creation of want lists for course development, and the support of campus-based or distance education courses.
The technical architecture of the Academic Image Exchange will be based on open or commonly used software and languages such as SQL and XML to provide the greatest accessibility and extensibility. In addition, to ensure access and interoperability, contributors will be required to adhere to the best practices in rapidly evolving image cataloging, such as the VRA Core, and technical metadata standards.
A demonstration of the prototype system is planned for the February 2000 College Art Association meeting in New York. Updates on the Academic Image Exchange project will be posted at http://www.diglib.org/dlfinit.htm.
THE 1999 A. R. Zipf Fellowship in Information Management has been awarded to Debra Ruffner Weiss of the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. Ms. Weiss is the third recipient of the Zipf Fellowship, which was established to recognize a graduate student who shows exceptional promise for leadership and technical achievement in information management. The fellowship reflects A. R. Zipf’s longstanding interest in assisting students and young professionals who pursue education and training that relate to library science.
Ms. Weiss is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Information and Library Science at UNC at Chapel Hill. For 10 years before starting her graduate career there, Ms. Weiss worked in the creation of large-scale information systems. She served as project manager and application developer on projects that handled large data repositories at ATT, the University of Virginia, and the Fairfax County Office of Research and Statistics in Fairfax, Virginia. Her research focuses on developing network-based middleware services that enable high-performance data-sharing between Internet2 universities and, by extension, other organizations.
Dr. Martin M. Cummings, chairman of the Zipf Selection Committee and former director of the National Library of Medicine, said “I am pleased that the A. R. Zipf award continues to attract outstanding candidates. This year’s winner, Ms. Debra Weiss, has exceptional background for continued development as a future leader in the field of library and information management.”
A. R. Zipf, who resides in California, was a pioneer in information management systems and a guiding force in many of the dramatic technological changes that occurred in the banking industry over the course of his forty-year career with the Bank of America.
Application requirements for the A. R. Zipf fellowship in the year 2000 will be announced at the end of 1999.
LONG BEFORE THE term “digital library” came into wide currency, librarians collected, maintained, and provided access to numeric data resources that researchers have been using in the pursuit of historical, social, and scientific studies. Quantitative data, including social survey results, test measurements, economic and financial series, and government statistics, have been encoded, stored, and used primarily in digital form. They have constituted what is, in effect, an early form of digital library, and like libraries today, they faced the serious challenge of preserving the integrity and accessibility of data sets over time. The Digital Library Federation has published a report, the second in its series devoted to digital library developments, on a meticulously detailed case study of migration as a preservation strategy in a social science data archives. Preserving the Whole: A Two-Track Approach to Rescuing Social Science Data and Metadata, by Anne Green, JoAnn Dionne, and Martin Dennis, reflects the Federation’s interests both in advancing the state of the art of social science data archives and in building the infrastructure necessary for the long-term maintenance of digital information. It explores the options available for migrating both the data stored in a technically obsolete format and their associated documentation stored on paper, which may itself be rapidly deteriorating. The obsolete data format known as column binary was born in the same era of creatively parsimonious coding techniques that have given rise to the widely publicized Year 2000 (Y2K) computer problems.
Those who are dealing with an explosion of digital information in a dizzying range of formats have much to learn from social science data librarians and users who have relatively long experience in managing and working with electronic resources. Data producers, librarians, and scholarly users have invested in very sophisticated mechanisms for storing and distributing social science data and have achieved valuable economies of scale in data storage and delivery through consortial developments. Through years of experience with repeated changes in storage technologies and in the software for encoding and using the data, they have become particularly adept at the long-term maintenance of information in digital form.
In 1996, the Task Force on Archiving of Digital Information highlighted the difficulties of preserving digital information over long periods of time. As a way of addressing these difficulties, the task force recommended in part that its sponsors, the Commission on Preservation and Access and the Research Libraries Group, seek to document the experiences of communities already well practiced in the preservation of digital information. Responding to this recommendation, the Commission (since merged with the Council on Library Resources to become the Council on Library and Information Resources) sought the expertise of those managing university-based data archives. It contracted for the development of this paper with the authors, who at the time worked together in managing the Social Science Data Archives at Yale University, one of the oldest data archives in American universities.
Beyond its contributions to our understanding of migration as a particular strategy for the long-term maintenance of digital information, Preserving the Whole also provides more general lessons. It is a remarkable finding of this study that the column binary format, although technically obsolete, is so well documented that numerous options exist not just for migrating column binary files to other formats, but also for reading them in their native format. Moreover, the authors make the important observation that data sets will be indecipherable and cannot survive at all, regardless of the file format in which they are stored, if there is no effort made also to preserve their codebooks. A codebook is essential documentation that relates the numeric data to meaningful fields and values of information.
There have been frequent calls lately from many quarters stressing the critical importance of documentation, or metadata, for preserving digital information. The value of Preserving the Whole is that it makes a similar argument, but concretely and from the long experience of the data community in effectively managing digital information. The report is available in print from CLIR and on the Web site of the Digital Library Federation.
Publications from CLIR
|In June, the Digital Library Federation published Preserving the Whole: A Two-Track Approach to Rescuing Social Science Data and Metadata, by Anne Green, JoAnn Dionne, and Martin Dennis (see article above).
CLIR expects to publish two additional reports in July and August:
Securing Our Dance Heritage: Issues in the Documentation of Dance, by Catherine J. Johnson and Allegra Fuller Snyder, a report from the Dance Heritage Coalition on preservation of and access to dance materials (see article below).
Innovative Use of Information Technology by Colleges, a set of case studies that examine technological innovation on college campuses.
These publications will be available in print and be posted to CLIR’s Web site at www.clir.org.
TO INTRODUCE ARL library directors and their staffs to the new agenda of the Council on Library and Information Resources, Stanley Chodorow, chairman of the Board, and I conducted three regional briefings. The half-day sessions were devoted to a report on CLIR’s future directions, but an equal amount of time was spent hearing from ARL directors about their concerns and interests. When asked what topics they would like to see CLIR address in the future, they developed the following list:
What should libraries do with their physical space when so much of their work occurs in cyberspace? How are librarians rethinking the learning enterprise that goes on in these buildings?
Intellectual property rights
Could CLIR review the various positions that universities have taken on managing the intellectual property rights of the members of their communities?
Could CLIR, working with others, define what libraries need to do collectively and what needs to be done on an individual basis? What has to be done in a national, unified way to be successful? What are the examples of the most successful collaborations?
Inventory of special collections
One of the directors thought it would be helpful if CLIR could develop an inventory of special collections that are housed in both research universities and smaller institutions. She believed that such an inventory could be used as the foundation for more rational decisions about digitization projects. Others pointed out that such an inventory would assist in more systematic thinking about special collections and the bibliographic descriptions that facilitate access to them.
Since little attention has been paid to the preservation of nonprint materials, CLIR was encouraged to coordinate an effort to preserve the audio and visual collections that are housed in research libraries.
Information for administrators
Several times, the directors asked that CLIR aim more of its publications at academic provosts and presidents, so that they will have a better understanding of library and information issues. One suggestion was that we prepare a synopsis of the progress that has been made and the work left to be done in key areas so that provosts and presidents will understand the issues and know which organizations are attending to the problems.
Staffing and recruiting
Many of the directors described the difficulties they face in recruiting library staff. They hoped that CLIR might issue periodic reports about some of the more effective staff training and development programs that other institutions have used. Such reports would help them think about creative solutions to their own staffing problems.
Information for sponsors
CLIR should consider developing information packets about key library issues for its sponsors. Information that can be given to faculty members who serve on library committees or background information that can be given to faculty would be especially helpful.
We recognize that some other organizations have already begun work in these areas. Where possible, we shall reinforce the efforts of those organizations in any way we can. In areas that are not now being addressed, we shall begin to incorporate these areas of concern into the CLIR agenda. We encourage any of our readers, from any organization, to send additional suggestions for future activity.
New Sponsors Support CLIR
|We are pleased that the following organizations have recently become CLIR sponsors.
IN LATE APRIL, a group of about 30 scholars and librarians from the United States and Greece met at the Library of Congress, in Washington, D.C., to discuss the state of library collections on modern Greece. The meeting was sponsored by CLIR and the Library of Congress.
Participants at the two-day working session considered some of the basic problems that hinder good access to research materials on modern Greece. For libraries, purchase and exchange arrangements have left much to be desired. Duplication of effort in cataloging is also a problem, as there are few effective mechanisms for cooperative cataloging of Greek materials. In most American libraries, there is inadequate Greek language expertise. For users, the difficulties lie in knowing what exists and how to obtain it. There is a dearth of information on what has been reformatted, and some original materials have become too fragile to use.
The meeting provided a forum for discussing these problems and how to begin addressing them. An immediate and positive result of the meeting was the formation of the bilateral Modern Greek Collections Working Group. The working group organized subcommittees on cataloging, journals and periodicals, archives, collection development (for example, to explore the possibility of exchanging copies of correspondence between President Jefferson and the Greek statesman A. Korais), and liaison with the Modern Greek Studies Association. Members of the working group will avail themselves of a listserv to coordinate the next steps, which include the following:
- The Library of Congress will look into offering conservation training for Greek librarians.
- The Greek National Library, with help from the National Book Center in Greece, will start a program for exchange of materials with selected institutions. The U.S. Modern Greek Studies Association will work with the National Library in setting priorities for exchange.
- The Library of the University of Crete has done significant work on the transliteration of Greek catalog records. This information will be shared with a subcommittee of Working Group members who will carry the work to its next step: creating a database into which Greek records can be transliterated.
- The Historical Archives of the National Bank of Greece and the Library of the Parliament will oversee Greek contributions of microfilm records to the European Register of Microform Masters.
- Princeton University will host Greek librarians for three months’ onsite training.
- Various members will seek funds to establish opportunities in Greece for training Americans in paleography.
Participants from Greece represented the National Library of Greece, the Library of the Parliament, the Benaki Museum, the Gennadios Library, the Moraitis School, the National Bank Cultural Foundation, the National Book Center of Greece, and the University of Crete. U.S. participants represented libraries at Harvard, New York University, Ohio State, Princeton, University of Chicago, University of Cincinnati, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, and Yale. The New York Public Library, Library of Congress, Modern Greek Studies Association, and CLIR were also represented. Updates on the activities of the working group will be posted later this summer at lcweb.loc.gov/rr/european.
AN INCREASING NUMBER of resources for humanities scholarship, both primary and secondary, are created in media and formats that are physically fragile and difficult to process and catalog for ready access. Today, audiovisual collections are like orphans in the large research collections that originally were consecrated to the printed word and continue to focus on text, be it on paper or in digital form. While many librarians are coping with the destructive legacy of acidic paper and preparing to migrate generations of digital data, fewer appear to be grappling directly with the preservation and access challenges to collections, both analog and digital, of film, television, video, and audio recording media. The dance documentation community, however, is a notable exception. It is moving ahead rapidly to develop strategies for improving access to and ensuring the preservation of multimedia documentation of dance. These strategies may well be adopted not only by other segments of the performing arts, such as theater, but by other disciplines in the sciences and humanities that need to rely on a variety of forms to capture an event that exists only in time and space, from the flight of a bird or the song of a whale, to the landing of men on the moon or the inauguration of a president.
CLIR has published a report, Securing Our Dance Heritage: Issues in the Documentation and Preservation of Dance, commissioned from the Dance Heritage Coalition and written by Catherine J. Johnson and Allegra Fuller Snyder, that focuses on the management of the great variety of resources that document dance. It addresses the full range of issues involved in evaluating, documenting, preserving, and making accessible the history of dance. It will be of interest not only to members of the international dance community, but also to libraries and archives that house dance materials, to historians and funders of the performing arts, to scientists and scholars of all types who will find in dance documentation rich new resources for investigating this uniquely expressive human activity, and, more broadly, to the managers of research institutions that are and will be acquiring collections in nonprint form.
The eminent dance ethnologist Allegra Fuller Snyder discusses the cultural and intellectual value of dance and articulates what elements of dance should be recorded and made accessible in order for scholars, performers, and creators, as well the general public, to grasp fully the rich history of human expression in dance form. Catherine Johnson, a leader in the field of dance librarianship, explores the various strategies used for making those resources accessible and the problems faced in preserving the fragile media on which these often unique and valuable sources are recorded.
One can well imagine a robust research collection of the future as a contemporary dance library writ large. As dance researchers do today, scholars of tomorrow, even working on a single topic, will consult a variety of sources in varying formats and media, often housed in disparate parts of the same library because they are cataloged according to nineteenth and twentieth century schemes that dissect knowledge into constituent parts differently than the scholars of the future will. (Typically, significant dance sources are dispersed among collections of religion, leisure, anthropology, theater, sports, and art history.) One hundred years from now researchers will investigate the major developments of this century using an abundance of resources in a diverse mix of formats and media. It is important that we undertake new and cost-effective strategies for ensuring long-term access to the fragile media, both analog and digital, of the twentieth century. The member institutions of the Dance Heritage Coalition (DHC) are grappling with these very issues and, in so doing, are setting high standards for documenting the performing arts and other events that take place in time and space and therefore can only be fully captured by audiovisual media.
Founded in 1992, the DHC is an alliance of major institutions that have important dance collections. Members are the Harvard Theatre Collection at Harvard University, the Library of Congress, the Dance Collection at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Ohio State University, the San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum, the American Dance Festival, and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. They work collaboratively to make accessible, enhance, augment, and preserve the materials that document the accomplishments of dance. It is because the Dance Heritage Coalition is taking a lead in addressing the access and preservation problems that will play a large role in shaping the future of cultural heritage institutions that the Council on Library and Information Resources has asked the coalition to share its perspective and experience with a broader public. The report is available in print from CLIR and will soon be online at CLIR’s Web site.
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The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) grew out of the 1997 merger of the Commission on Preservation and Access and the Council on Library Resources. CLIR identifies the critical issues that affect the welfare and prospects of libraries and archives and the constituencies they serve, convenes individuals and organizations in the best position to engage these issues and respond to them, and encourages institutions to work collaboratively to achieve and manage change.