Scholars as Partners in Digital Preservation
by Deanna B. Marcum
Toward User-Centered Digital Image Libraries
by Max Marmor, CLIR/DLF Distinguished Fellow
European Libraries Create Framework for Networked Deposit Library
by Anne R. Kenney
CLIR Forms Planning Group for Preservation Survey
by Deanna B. Marcum
AS THE NUMBER of journals and other scholarly resources created in electronic form has grown, the need to find ways to preserve these materials for future research has become more urgent. With recent funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a number of organizations are moving forward to address this need (see article elsewhere in this issue). As they do so, it will be important to involve scholars, as was done in the last national preservation effort, the Brittle Books program.
When the Brittle Books program was started, preservation librarians fully understood the need to involve scholars in decisions about selecting the materials to be microfilmed. Proposals for microfilming projects submitted to the National Endowment for the Humanities fared better if scholarly involvement in decisions concerning selection of materials was evident. Even without financial incentives, however, librarians recognized that intellectual and cultural legacies were being formed by preservation decisions, and that scholars needed to be involved in them.
Engaging the scholars was sometimes frustrating. Many scholars declared that everything had to be saved, and they could not make choices. Librarians knew that failing to make choices was to decide by default that the materials at the end of the preservation queue would be lost. The scholars recognized the problems, but had great difficulty in advising on future scholarly directions and trends. Many felt incapable of recommending which bodies of their scholarly resources should receive priority treatment.
Less than dramatic successes are sometimes highly instructive. One thing that we learned from the Brittle Books program is that scholars do not see themselves primarily as decision makers about “library matters.” They understand the importance of ensuring the availability of library resources for future generations, but they hope that librarians will solve the problems and allow them to concentrate on their major responsibilities—research and teaching.
In some ways, it would be easier for librarians to proceed alone. Indeed, a few librarians may argue that working alone has advantages. Collaboration may, for example, slow the pace of progress. Some librarians also fear that scholars who do not fully understand the technology will take overly conservative positions.
But we have new and urgent needs to involve the scholarly community in the decisions we must make about archiving digital materials with no paper equivalent. The larger questions require deep and careful thinking. For example, several libraries are negotiating agreements with publishers that allow them to become the archival repositories for the publishers’ content. Decisions must be made about what will actually be saved for future use. Will the electronic journal retain the “look and feel” of the paper version? Will the content consist only of the articles in a journal, or will it also include front matter (such as the names of members of the journal’s editorial board) and advertisements? Will scholars be able to link from footnotes to the texts to which they refer? Scholars have considerable stake in such questions.
Second, there will be policy decisions that affect scholars. How many archives of one publisher’s content will be necessary? It is probably not necessary that each library establish a digital archives for these materials. But will local institutions be willing to rely on a few distributed repositories that are managed on their behalf by a consortium or a third party? Will a faculty member be satisfied knowing that some other organization is managing the long-term preservation of his or her article —or other materials used in research? What kinds of interinstitutional agreements will be necessary to assure scholars about the future of scholarly resources? How will relationships between publishers and libraries change in the new environment?
All of these questions are as important to scholars as they are to librarians. And, on each campus, we need to engage scholars at the highest policy levels in seeking answers to them. Distributed responsibility for decisions is a by-product of the digital environment, and we should consult in a distributed manner. University administrators expect librarians and technologists to plan information services collaboratively, and there are many current examples of successful collaboration. It is equally important to involve scholars in the decisions about future directions.
Involving scholars on issues surrounding digital preservation is also an excellent way to begin campus-wide discussions on broader topics, such as the evolving role of libraries and the changing nature of library resources.
The benefits of involving scholars in meaningful ways far outweigh the convenience of moving quickly. The link between scholars and librarians needs to become stronger because of the current and projected changes in the way scholarly content is created, published, and retained. Scholars need to understand the new role of the library in the digital world in order to understand what is happening to the resources upon which their successors will depend. We are, after all, solving institutional and national problems, not library problems.
HUMANISTS ARE INCREASINGLY engaged with digital technologies. This engagement ranges from the routine use of course-based Web sites to the elective affinities of electronic discussion groups; from discipline-based syllabus exchanges to JSTOR’s invaluable and expanding core collection of full-text journals. Art historians, as well as other humanists whose work depends upon images of visual and material culture, are increasingly well served by networked information resources. The Library of Congress’s American Memory collections have expanded the horizons of the public domain by delivering valuable digital collections to teachers, students, and scholars in ways that encourage experimentation and innovation through digital technologies. Such related initiatives as the Association of Art Museum Directors’ AMICO Library and the Research Libraries Group’s nascent Cultural Materials Initiative promise to provide rich resources for the student of visual culture.
Most of the imaging initiatives mentioned above take as their point of departure the institutional commitments, constraints, and imperatives of participating libraries and museums. The digital libraries these groups create will consist principally of those materials that can be secured most readily. These include materials already digitized and cataloged, materials for which photographic and descriptive documentation exists that can be converted to digital form, and materials that participating institutions wish to employ in their own programs.
Those involved in digital imaging initiatives taking this admittedly ad hoc approach hope that their efforts will produce a critical mass of digital content that will be essential to teaching, learning, and scholarship. Nonetheless, it is instructive to note that the most valuable digital libraries at our disposal—JSTOR, for example—have been developed by an approach that differs from this one in at least two key ways. First, the most valuable digital libraries have been created in close consultation with teachers and scholars; second, they hew closely to established, if evolving, scholarly canons of practice, serviceability, and value.
How can we create digital image libraries that respond from the outset to the needs of educators and scholars? Creating such libraries of images is clearly more challenging than is selecting core journals in the humanities for digitization. Even allowing for the evolution of scholarly publishing and the importance of alternative, peripheral, and short-lived publication venues, evidence of scholarly behavior exists in the domain of periodical literature; this evidence can be verified through the use of such tools as citation indexes. In short, it is possible to gain a reliable sense of which journals have been and remain central to a given scholarly discipline. The situation is significantly different with images. Confronted with the rich universe of visual materials in our archives, libraries, and museums; with limited resources for digitization; and with the insatiable appetites of scholars, how can we decide what will be most valuable to students, teachers, and scholars in digital form? How can digital library planners set intelligent priorities that reflect and respond to users’ priorities?
That is the challenge that three related imaging initiatives seek to meet. These initiatives are described briefly here; readers will hear more about them shortly in other forums.
- The Academic Image Cooperative (AIC). The Digital Library Federation (DLF) has recently completed an 18-month planning process to develop a scaleable database of curriculum-based digital images for use in survey courses in the history of art. The planning resulted in a prototype database and image collection. It also developed technical, organizational, and policy frameworks that have the potential for sustaining a more ambitious online service, including one that is capable of identifying, developing, and disseminating a far larger number of curriculum-based and scholarly image collections than has previously been possible. For further information about the AIC, see http://www.diglib.org/collections/aic.htm.
- Imaging America. Initiated by the Yale University Library, which provided the project’s leadership and organizational home during the incubation period, Imaging America takes a strategic approach to building a digital library. It is designed to support the study and teaching of American art and architecture and of material and visual culture. Building a digital image library for American Studies requires a collection-development strategy that responds to abiding needs in the field. Imaging America aims to be a sustainable service, and in the digital arena, “sustainability” means, among other things, knowing one’s market and securing one’s market share.But what, to paraphrase Freud, do Americanists want? Imaging America hopes to answer this question by various means. For example, the project will try to learn more, through consultations, questionnaires, and the study of various curricula and syllabi, about the uses Americanists currently make of images in their teaching and scholarship. The project will also observe acquisitions practices and collecting trends in slide libraries supporting American Studies programs and will study the business practices of slide vendors. Project staff will consult the transaction records of museum rights-and-reproductions departments. Finally, they will learn more about how authors and publishers make decisions about which images to include in survey texts aspiring to canonicity and widespread adoption. In these and other ways, Imaging America hopes to define the body of images most frequently employed in teaching American art, architecture, and material and visual culture.
- ArtSTOR. The AIC and Imaging America are coalescing under the aegis of ArtSTOR, an imaging initiative being developed by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. ArtSTOR (the name is provisional at this point) seeks to do with visual materials something analogous to what JSTOR is doing for periodical literature in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, namely, to build a digital library that responds to widespread scholarly and educational needs and, at the same time, to offer new economies for libraries and librarians. ArtSTOR will accomplish this across a wide content spectrum, ranging from circumscribed suites of images supporting widespread curricular needs, to comprehensive image collections derived from the great art historical photographic archives around the world, to deep, specialized digital primary resources such as the Dunhuang Archive and the Museum of Modern Art design collection.
The result of this synergy is a collaboration whereby the DLF is helping identify and develop circumscribed, strategically identified image collections that respond to teaching and other specialist scholarly needs. It is envisaged that these collections, including the art history survey collection already developed by the AIC and related collections identified in connection with Imaging America, will be incorporated into the ArtSTOR service, which eventually will be managed as a project of The Mellon Foundation or a designated organization. (For a preliminary account of ArtSTOR, please see The Mellon Foundation’s 1999 President’s Report at http://www.mellon.org/awmar.html.)
These three imaging initiatives will contribute to reducing the redundancy in operations that pervades academic visual resources collections around the country —a redundancy that drains staff resources and collection budgets alike. A related DLF initiative, aimed at creating a prototype shared cataloging utility and “cataloger’s desktop” for catalogers of visual resources, promises to further reduce redundancies in operations and services. If successful, this tool will also present an opportunity to advance the implementation of evolving data standards and authorities for visual materials, to direct users to high-quality image collections, and to provide authoritative cataloging records of these initiatives. For further information about this development, please see http://www.diglib.org/collections/toolframe.htm.
FOR THE PAST two years, eight European national libraries have been working together to build a framework for a networked deposit library for electronic publications. The collaboration, called the Networked European Deposit Library (NEDLIB) project, was completed in December 2000. To mark its conclusion, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB) in The Hague sponsored a one-day invitational workshop entitled “Setting Up Deposit Systems for Electronic Publications.” The workshop provided an opportunity for participants of the NEDLIB project to share their findings with representatives from European national libraries. Nearly 100 individuals from 22 countries attended the workshop.
The NEDLIB project focused on formalizing process models and writing specifications for a prototype Deposit System for Electronic Publications. The project adapted the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) reference model to incorporate a preservation component as the basis for the deposit system. With the assistance of a consultant, Jeff Rothenberg, the project tested the use of emulation-based strategies for preservation. The project has also been involved in developing deposit guidelines for publishers, in an effort to ensure that electronic materials—accompanied by preservation metadata—are captured in a form that can be effectively preserved for long-term use.
The workshop, intended for library managers and technical experts, was organized around two main topics: long-term digital preservation and building a deposit system for electronic publications. The program covered deposit design and modeling work, Web archiving, practical guidelines for deposit libraries, standards for e-publishing, digital preservation strategies, and technical solutions. A demonstration of the operational deposit system at the KB was also included.
Of particular note were presentations by Juha Hakala (Helsinki University Library, Finland) on the development and use of the NEDLIB harvester for archiving materials; Raymond Lorie (IBM Research, Almaden) on the design of a University Virtual Computer to be used for both data preservation and computer program preservation; and Titia van der Werf-Davelaar (KB, The Netherlands) on developing the Process Model for the Deposit System for Electronic Publications.
The NEDLIB project has been exemplary in bringing national libraries together to build a consensus on how best to preserve digital publications. The real success of the project, however, will be seen in the coming years, as partners demonstrate their willingness to maintain and update the deposit guidelines and as the extent to which they can enlist other libraries and archives in implementing local deposit systems for electronic publications becomes evident.
Papers and presentation slides from this workshop are available from the NEDLIB home page at http://www.kb.nl/coop/nedlib/homeflash.html. The results of the NEDLIB project are also well documented in a series of reports that can be ordered from the project Web site. The Web site includes a fact sheet on the project, two interactive media presentations that may be downloaded, and extensive links to related institutions and projects.
INCREASINGLY, SCHOLARLY JOURNALS are published electronically. What will it take to keep them accessible electronically in perpetuity? Can the property rights of publishers, the access responsibilities of libraries, and the reliability assurances that scholars need be reconciled in agreements to create archives of electronic journals? Seven major libraries are receiving grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to plan solutions.
The new Mellon Electronic Journal Archiving Program recently awarded up to $150,000 each to the New York Public Library and the university libraries of Cornell, Harvard, MIT, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, and Yale. The Council on Library and Information Resources, the Digital Library Federation, and the Coalition for Networked Information helped develop this program and will continue to assist it.
Yale, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania will work with individual publishers on archiving the range of their electronic journals. Cornell and the New York Public Library will work on archiving journals in specific disciplines. MIT’s project involves archiving “dynamic” e-journals that change frequently, and Stanford’s involves software testing.
CLIR Receives Grant to Develop Communications for Academic Executives
THE H. W. WILSON FOUNDATION has awarded a grant of $40,000 to the Council on Library and Information Resources to develop articles and other publications that will help academic executives deal with the changes affecting campus libraries. The publications will draw on work that CLIR and the Digital Library Federation have supported in experimenting with new technologies to improve services and access to information.
ON JANUARY 22, CLIR convened a group to review plans for a study of the state of preservation programs in American college and research libraries (see CLIR Issues, January–February 2001, for more information). Representatives from several organizations met with Anne Kenney and Deanna Marcum of CLIR to discuss the details of the study and to agree on next steps. They included Andrew Hart of the American Library Association, Mary Case and Nancy Gwinn of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), Will Bridegam from the Oberlin Group, Pat Wand and Connie McCarthy from the University Libraries Group, and library educator Ellen Cunningham-Kruppa.
All of the organizations represented at the meeting endorsed the study, and planning group members offered useful suggestions about other groups that may be interested in participating in it. For example, they recommended adding more representation from public institutions. In keeping with this suggestion, Catherine Murray-Rust, Associate University Librarian, Oregon State University, was invited to join the group as a representative of the major non-ARL land-grant universities.
The group agreed to help survey 123 non-ARL public and private institutions with an interest in preservation. The survey will seek to identify what types of preservation activities (including digital preservation) are being carried out, as well as what projects are under way to digitize collections. It will also ask responding institutions for information on matters such as size, staffing, and budget.
The survey will be designed to yield data that can be compared with the statistics that ARL gathers annually from its member institutions. Survey statistics from 125 ARL institutions, combined with the results from the 123 non-ARL institutions surveyed, will provide a broad representation of preservation activity on U.S. campuses. After the survey is complete, group members will select 20 institutions, both ARL and non-ARL, at which to conduct in-depth, on-site interviews that will provide a fuller picture of the state of preservation and preservation needs in academic libraries. The findings of the study will be published in a joint report.
The planning group agreed to join CLIR in seeking the funds needed to carry out the study. CLIR has submitted a proposal to a funding agency on behalf of itself, ARL, the University Libraries Group, and the Regional Alliance for Preservation.
FIFTY-FIVE INDIVIDUALS, representing a balance of librarians, information technologists, faculty, and administrators from institutions of higher education, have been selected for participation in the 2001 Frye Leadership Institute. The Institute will be held June 3-15 at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. The members of this year’s class come from community colleges, liberal arts colleges, comprehensive universities, and research institutions. Two participants are from institutions abroad. The candidates were selected from a very strong pool of 160 applicants.
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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.