Symposium Participants See Need for New Digital-Era Partnerships
by Jerry George
CLIR to Develop Web-based Tutorial on Preservation for Southeast Asia
by Anne R. Kenney
How and Why are Libraries Changing
by Denise A. Troll
BROADER LEADERSHIP AND more creative partnerships will be necessary to meet the challenges confronting colleges and universities in the era of electronic information.
This view emerged from a meeting of more than 100 college and university librarians, information technologists, and others representing the institutional sponsors of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). They met on March 14 in Washington, D.C., for CLIR’s second annual Sponsors’ Symposium
Panelists at the symposium concurred that “business as usual” will no longer suffice in the work of librarians, scholars, scholarly publishers, information technology (IT) professionals, and campus administrators. Digital technologies make possible new resources for scholars, new services for libraries, and new formats for publishers, panelists said. These developments necessitate new relationships that are led by individuals who can bring librarians, scholars, publishers, and information technologists together in projects that support the overall missions of their campuses.
The first panel, entitled “Librarians, Scholars, and Publishers: Creating Resources for Scholarship,” was chaired by CLIR Director of Programs Abby Smith. Kate Wittenberg, director of The Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia (EPIC), explained efforts of the Columbia University Library to reposition itself in collaboration with others. “The library at Columbia is viewed as the center of some of the most interesting research-and-development efforts in scholarly communication,” Wittenberg said. “The transformational role of libraries in developing these kinds of experimental projects is underrecognized.” Forward-looking librarians, she continued, are not just giving advice but are initiating and implementing new projects.
Librarians are taking these actions in collaboration with other professionals, and all participants are learning from one another, the panelists agreed. John Unsworth, director of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia, spoke of librarians’ value in “eliciting implicit knowledge and making it part of the explicit process” of describing research materials. Michael Keller, whose responsibilities at Stanford include university librarian, director of Academic Information Resources, publisher of HighWire Press, and director of Stanford University Press, spoke of the new publishing roles of libraries and the importance of collaboration between librarians and information scientists in making multimedia resources in the life sciences available to scholars.
The panelists emphasized the ongoing importance of the libraries’ human resources—their staff members—in facilitating research in the digital era. They noted that libraries can effect collaborations simply by providing physical space for joint work on electronic-information projects.
The title of a second panel, chaired by CLIR Director of Programs Anne Kenney, was “Librarians and Cybarians: Partners or Competitors in Meeting Information Needs in Higher Education?” During this session, panelists Joan Gotwals, librarian of Emory University; Brian Hawkins, president of EDUCAUSE; and Richard Lucier, librarian of Dartmouth College, identified opportunities for and obstacles to collaboration between campus librarians and information technologists.
The experimentation now going on in the relationships between information technologists and librarians is important, they said, because differences among campuses in values, traditions, personalities, and funding preclude the adoption of a single solution for structuring such relationships. But, the panelists agreed, neither librarians nor IT professionals can develop desirable information services alone.
Members of this panel stated that cooperation works best when it is focused on concrete projects that will serve the overall missions of the participating institutions. For leadership in developing such projects, presidents and provosts depend on people who can secure broad support from the campus community, not just from the library or the IT staff. As one panelist observed, “Presidents and provosts want to see leaders emerging who can bring together issues on campus.”
The development of such leadership was the subject of the third and final panel, titled “Developing Leadership for Change: Reports from Frye Fellows.” Deanna Marcum, president of CLIR and co-dean of the Frye Leadership Institute, chaired this group. Recognizing the need for information-service leaders who are comfortable with electronic information, cognizant of campus needs, and willing to work collaboratively to meet them and to take risks in doing so, CLIR joined with EDUCAUSE and Emory University in 1999 to create the Frye Leadership Institute, a summer professional-development opportunity for librarians, information technologists, scholars, and administrators holding midlevel positions in colleges and universities.
Four fellows from the 2000 Frye Institute—Elizabeth Hammond of Mercer University, David McKnight of McGill University, Pamela McQuesten of the University of Texas, and Vince Sheehan of Indiana University—described how their experiences at the institute had affected them and their institutions: “We were brought there to learn how to transform our institutions,” one fellow said, “and in two weeks we were transformed.” Campus provosts and presidents have insufficient time to cope with IT issues, panelists said; the need is great for “leading from the middle.” Such leadership requires the ability to forge collaborative alliances.
FOR 18 MONTHS, a task force of scholars and librarians sponsored by CLIR has been investigating the issues surrounding the preservation of and access to artifactual collections. Artifacts—that is, information recorded on physical media—form the bedrock of evidence upon which scholarship and teaching are built. The task force has produced a draft report, The Evidence in Hand: Report of the Task Force on the Artifact in Library Collections, and is inviting members of the research community to comment on the draft and to help shape the recommendations and outcomes of its work. The task force is hosting five public-review sessions this spring that will engage librarians and scholars in developing recommendations that meet the needs of all who share an interest in this issue. The report is designed to advise academic officers, funders, library administrators, government funding agencies, and scholars on what is at stake as library and archival collections age and as demands to build digital services and collections threaten to eclipse the continuing need for investment in preservation.
While preparing the draft report, the task force consulted extensively with experts from libraries and archives. Task force members confirmed what is well-known to many librarians: As the volume of information collected by libraries grows, and with it the demand for electronic resources, so do scholars’ demands for access to original, unreformatted resources. Libraries are caught between building digital collections and infrastructures and increasing their efforts to preserve many print and audiovisual resources in dire condition—caught because their preservation budgets are flat and the pressures to “go digital” are great. As long as the claim on preservation resources exceeds the available funds, it will be necessary to choose carefully which materials get treatment.
CLIR charged the task force with developing a framework for making or evaluating institutional policies for the preservation and retention of original materials—from printed materials to photographs and sound recordings—and with articulating the value of the artifact for research and teaching. The task force gave special consideration to how a library and its home institution should make sound intellectual and fiscal decisions about what to preserve, when, for whom, and at what price.
Given the types of collections that research libraries hold—largely printed matter—and the extensive use of retrospective resources by humanists and social scientists, most task force members were familiar with the problems of print on wood-pulp paper. Librarians and preservationists know how to treat these materials; the problem is that funds are often insufficient.
The situation is different for audiovisual materials. There is far less awareness of their vulnerability, and fewer treatments are available to save them. Many audiovisual resources created during the last 150 years—prints, photographs, maps, broadsides, posters, films, and sound recordings—are reaching the limits of their usable life span. The task force identified an urgent need to address this problem. If we do not act now, we risk losing a great deal of material. For example, by the time we understood the cultural and intellectual value of moving images, we had lost more than 80 percent of all silent films and more than half of the films made before World War II. We now face a similar crisis in recorded sound. At risk is everything from ethnographic records of native languages facing extinction to early radio, the “race records” of the pre-World War II era, and speeches by Teddy Roosevelt—the list goes on.
Scholars can play an important role in preventing the future loss of valuable resources by articulating clearly the full range of contemporary formats and genres that have and will have potential research value. The report acknowledges that the availability of digital surrogates is changing the way some scholars value access to original, unreformatted materials. While there is an increasing number of items that scholars identify as valuable to preserve for research, there is also a growing preference among scholars for electronic delivery of secondary sources and, in some cases, of primary sources as well. The task force report considers the matter of digital surrogacy at some length, articulating its advantages and disadvantages and identifying those parts of the information infrastructure that need to be in place to maximize its benefits.
The draft report is available on the CLIR Web site at www.clir.org/activities/details/artifact-docs.html. CLIR encourages public comment on the draft through June 10. The final report will be available in print and online in July.
CLIR to Award Dissertation Fellowships for Archival Research
IN 2002, THE Council on Library and Information Resources will begin to award dissertation fellowships for archival research in the humanities, with support from a recent grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Under the newly established Mellon Fellowship Program for Dissertation Research in Original Sources, CLIR will award up to 10 dissertation fellowships per year for three years. The fellowships will provide encouragement and opportunities for graduate students in any field in the humanities to do dissertation research using original primary materials.
Information about the program, along with application guidelines, will be issued later this year.
THE HENRY LUCE Foundation has awarded a $330,000 grant to CLIR to develop a Web-based tutorial on preservation and conservation for use in Southeast Asia. The tutorial will enable librarians, archivists, preservation administrators, and other cultural information practitioners to acquire basic and reliable preservation information. It will also enable users to develop responses to preservation challenges that are distinctive to their climate, culture, and resources and the type of materials they have to preserve. The distance-learning program will offer an independent learning approach that is also interactive. Participants will be challenged to apply concepts, develop responses, and test their learning through a variety of means, including self-assessments, case studies, practical exercises, and diagnostic tools. In addition, the tutorial will facilitate collaborative interaction with peers and mentors in the region.
The initiative will be directed by Anne R. Kenney, director of programs at CLIR and associate director of Cornell University’s Department of Preservation, and John F. Dean, director of Cornell’s Department of Preservation. Since the mid-1980s, Cornell’s Department of Preservation and Conservation has worked closely with librarians and archivists in Southeast Asian repositories to preserve important cultural heritage resources. Work will begin in June, and the first release of the tutorial is scheduled for summer 2002.
After the tutorial has been implemented and evaluated in Southeast Asia, CLIR anticipates adapting it for use in other regions of the world. In addition, CLIR will work with international organizations with similar interests in developing a financial strategy for maintaining the tutorials over time.
There are many compelling reasons to begin with Southeast Asia. The region’s library and archival collections are valuable and vulnerable. Southeast Asian librarians and archivists have identified accessible preservation education and training as a priority, and greater Internet capability in the region is making such education possible. The need for regional preservation action was formally recognized last year with the creation of the Southeast Asian Consortium for Access and Preservation (SEACAP). Finally, there is a growing body of information on preservation threats in tropical countries and what to do about them, which will provide the content for the tutorial.
Many Southeast Asian nations find it difficult to ensure the survival of their cultural property, for reasons that relate to their climate, history, political situation, and economy. Environmental conditions accelerate the destruction of historically valuable books, manuscripts, photographs, and other media. For example, mold thrives in the high heat and humidity typical of tropical countries. The environmental storage standards widely recommended in the West are often impossible to maintain in these areas. Insect infestations are also a problem. Exacerbating the destructive forces of environment are inadequate funding for collection care and the history of war and civil unrest in the region.
Early in the project, staff will conduct a survey to determine the exact nature of Internet use and capabilities in the region. To keep network delivery inexpensive and efficient, the tutorial will be designed not only to operate where bandwidth is limited but also to provide richer information resources to areas that can support it. In addition, the program will be designed to facilitate updates in response to users’ concerns and needs and to new developments in preservation methodologies.
The sheer diversity of language and culture create some barriers to communication in the area. Fortunately, however, most cultural professionals in the region are proficient in English or, to a lesser degree, French or Spanish. Because the tutorial will be released in all three of these languages, the vast majority of cultural professionals in Southeast Asia will be able to access its content. When the program is expanded beyond Southeast Asia, these languages will serve other developing areas of the world as well.
HOW AND WHY are academic libraries changing? In March, a group of university and college library directors met at the invitation of CLIR and the Digital Library Federation (DLF) to address this question. The directors agreed that shifting patterns in library operations and use are hindering strategic planning and making it difficult for them to meet the needs and expectations of users and to solicit support for library initiatives from university and college administrators.
Traditionally, libraries have relied on input measures, such as the size of their collections, and on output measures, such as circulation statistics, to indicate their actual and potential ability to meet users’ needs. However, dramatic changes in the research environment over the past decade have rendered these traditional measures less pertinent.
The Changing Environment
In the past, the word “collection” referred to those materials that the library physically owned. Records in the library catalog referred to items in its “collection.” The advent of digitization has changed profoundly the definition of a library collection. Libraries now license access to remote electronic collections that they do not own. The library catalog contains records with interactive URLs that point to the licensed items, and libraries frequently provide other points of access to these items on their Web sites. When a library cancels a print subscription to a journal or periodical, it retains ownership of the physical volumes of that publication. If an electronic subscription is cancelled, by contrast, the library often does not retain access to the digital volumes. In the past, many libraries archived and preserved print publications. In the digital arena of licensed access, libraries no longer play this role; they must look to publishers to archive digital collections. Traditional library performance measures do not count digital titles when calculating collection size; likewise, they do not capture the significant changes that have occurred as a result of digitization or the serious concerns that arise from these changes.
The economic crisis in scholarly publishing and efforts to better serve students and faculty are changing the relationships among academic libraries, publishers, authors, and artists. For example, libraries become publishers when they digitize collections, host journals that are “born digital,” or assemble student or faculty works online. Librarians become politicians when they lobby faculty members not to sign away copyright to a print publisher, because this means that the authors or the libraries will have to pay for use of these works. Traditional library measures cannot capture these changing roles for the simple reason that they were not designed to do so. New measures are needed.
As commercial publishers and aggregators become involved in collecting, organizing, and preserving digital information, the focus of librarians is shifting. Librarians today are expected to facilitate skilled online information retrieval, help users evaluate the information they retrieve, assume greater responsibility for student and faculty performance, collaborate with a wide range of experts to develop or provide access to digital collections and services, and conduct usage and usability research employing a greater variety of research methods than in the past. The core competencies required to perform these new tasks are different from those required of librarians in the print environment. Again, traditional library measures do not capture these new roles because they were not designed to make such assessments.
New technologies are changing the services that libraries provide. Usage statistics and cost analyses of services such as online reference, desktop document delivery, user-initiated library loan, and self-checkout are not readily available, yet even a simple change in service can have a significant impact on the library. For example, electronic journals, e-reserves, and automated e-mail notices of overdue books have significantly reduced revenue from fines and photocopying. Traditional measures do not capture these changes or their implications.
Even if libraries had new measures to assess these changes, the data would reveal only what was happening, not why. To understand why library operations and use are changing requires looking beyond the library to the larger environmental context. What is happening within and beyond our academic institutions influences what is happening in academic libraries. For example, changes in the curriculum, in the values and habits of students and faculty, in the technological infrastructure and ownership of computers, and in the provision of digital content and online services by entities outside of the library have a significant impact on library operations and use. However, libraries have not undertaken a serious study of these potentially influential factors.
Libraries need new methods to assess the use and quality of their collections and services. They need to know not only how well they are meeting users’ needs and expectations but also whether they are accomplishing their missions within their institutions. Libraries also need methods to assess significant changes in the external environment that affect what is happening within their walls and Web sites. In the absence of this environmental assessment, there is no context in which to interpret the data on library operations and use. If library directors know how libraries are changing but not why they are changing, they cannot effectively respond to change, serve their constituencies, strategically plan for the future, or solicit the support of university and college administrators. Research and new measures are required to enable libraries to allocate human and financial resources appropriately and to contribute to the learning and research outcomes of their institutions. These challenges should fuel discussions that will lead to the reframing of existing measures and the framing of new measures that will provide the context needed to plan strategically for the future trajectory of libraries.
The March meeting marked the first step in a larger CLIR/DLF initiative to better position academic libraries to serve their constituencies and institutions. Two key recommendations emerged. The first recommendation was to commission a survey of student and faculty information-seeking and usage behaviors. The study will not be limited to the use of library collections and services, but will encompass all the resources that students and faculty use when they need information. The goal is to enable libraries to understand how students and faculty find and use information, to assess the quality of the information they find, and to determine what information they want that they cannot find. The survey will also help determine how students and faculty define a successful information search and what influences their behaviors and perceptions.
The second recommendation was to develop a series of case studies of academic libraries and other content providers that have been innovative and successful in responding to change. The case studies will provide models for libraries to emulate or adapt.
THERE IS MUCH talk in libraries and museums about how to extend the reach of their cultural heritage and intellectual assets through the Web. While the subjects of intellectual property, selection criteria, staffing, and infrastructure building provoke thoughtful discussion, the issue of funding lurks behind these topics as an often-unspoken concern. How do we sustain digital services, especially those that public institutions provide free of charge? Both libraries and museums are exploring new models of sustainability—”business models” by another name—as they consider future digital investments.
On February 15-16, CLIR and the National Initiative for a Networked Cultural Heritage (NINCH) hosted a meeting in Washington, D.C., entitled “Building and Sustaining Digital Collections: Business Models for Libraries and Museums.” The meeting brought together more than 40 experts from North America and Europe—senior managers from libraries and museums, foundation officials, technologists, business consultants, and venture capitalists—to discuss how institutions of higher education and cultural heritage can build and sustain their digital collections and services. The group heard presentations by the chief executives of several established or newly launched digital enterprises. They included Kevin Guthrie of JSTOR; Michael Keller of HighWire Press; Anthony Bannon and Willis Hartshorn of George Eastman House and the International Center for Photography; Troy Williams of Questia; Maxwell Anderson of the Art Museum Network; and Ann Kirschner of Fathom.com. The speakers described the factors they considered in building their business models and their subsequent efforts to modify these models in order to sustain their enterprises. Following the presentations, participants engaged in several debates about how for-profits and nonprofits differ in their organizational cultures, how the enterprises find their audiences and their content providers, and how their successes could serve as models for other groups.
Among the most challenging issues the group tackled was that of scalability. How are small- to medium-size organizations going to survive in a technological environment that demands collaboration to achieve economies of scale? How much of this Web-based distribution of cultural and intellectual material could and should be subsidized by another entity, that is, by another part of the organization (for example, by tuition, marketing income, subscription fees, or ticket sales); by private organizations such as foundations; or by local, state, or federal governments? How could museums and libraries of all sizes leverage their individual knowledge to raise the levels of technical and managerial expertise at all institutions?
The participants developed a set of goals and recommendations for action that address the concerns they raised about creating business models, developing and sharing expertise, and addressing areas of potential interinstitutional collaboration. CLIR will publish the recommendations, together with a summary of discussions, later this spring.
The conference was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under its program to foster collaboration and cooperation between libraries and museums.
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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.