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CLIR Press Release

subject: subject gateways
Internet resource guides
Web resource guides
Web resources
collections of Web resources

CLIR Press Release


For Immediate Release: June 17, 2001

Contact: Daniel Greenstein 202-939-4762

What Does it take to Build and Sustain Collections
of “Free” Web Resources?

WASHINGTON, D.C.—There is a growing body of material on the Web that is of value to higher education and research and can be accessed for free. But the notion of free access can mask a range of hidden and long-term costs associated with developing and managing collections of Web-based resources.

What are the costs and other considerations? Can third-party Web resources serve as a pillar of a sustainable digital library? Author Louis Pitschmann provides some answers to this question in a new report from the Digital Library Federation (DLF) and the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), entitled Building Sustainable Collections of Free Third-Party Web Resources.

Mr. Pitschmann, the incoming dean of libraries at the University of Alabama, begins his report by underscoring the valuable service that libraries can offer in making high-quality Web-based resources accessible to their patrons—as they have done for years in the print realm. He cautions, however, that third-party public domain Web resources are fundamentally different from scholarly print and analog formats, and that “developing collections of free Web resources is a process that requires its own set of practices, policies, and organizational models.”

The author identifies and synthesizes current practices for developing collections of free third-party Internet resources that support higher education and research. More than a third of the report is devoted to identifying, evaluating, and selecting material—from establishing provenance and rights legitimacy to assessing the ease of navigation and assuring site integrity. He then addresses questions of resource discovery and adding value through cataloging, metadata, and search functions. There are sections on data management (including preservation), use of foreign-language sites, user support, and organizational and financial issues. The report concludes with some thoughts about how libraries in the future will acquire and manage the rapidly growing body of Web-based information.

The report is the first in a series that will focus on challenges in digital collection development. Forthcoming works will examine the use of commercial electronic content and the use of digital collections created from library holdings.

Building Sustainable Collections of Free Third-Party Web Resources is available on CLIR’s Web site at Print copies will soon be available for ordering through the Web site.

The Digital Library Federation is a nonprofit consortium of libraries and related organizations that are pioneering the use of electronic-information technology to extend collections and services. It operates under the umbrella of the Council on Library and Information Resources, which acts on behalf of libraries, archives, and universities to develop and encourage collaborative strategies for preserving and providing access to scholarly resources.


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