CLIR Issues Number 26
Connecting with Scholarship
by Daniel Greenstein
Librarians and Publishers Find Common Ground in Joint Working Group
by Deanna B. Marcum
Meeting Focuses on Libraries’ Role in Web-Based Teaching
by Susan Perry
“IT’S THE SCHOLARSHIP.”
That seems to be the new catch phrase of digital libraries in the academic community. Support for scholarship has emerged as the touchstone against which a library’s investment in digitization is to be tested. At least, such is the opinion of the authors of a forthcoming study of the history and immediate challenges confronting leading digital libraries.1
The reason for the new emphasis on scholarship is in part the maturation of digital libraries. After focusing for 10 years or more on technical and organizational issues, digital libraries have developed a number of adequate, if not wholly permanent, solutions that permit them once more to pick up their primary aim—supporting scholarship.
Persons involved in digital reformatting, for example, are increasingly guided in their selection choices by the well-articulated and apparently thoroughly researched needs of specific academic communities or individual scholars. Similarly, scholars appear to be leading decisions about which catalog or finding aid to move next online. Support for scholarship is also driving numerous initiatives that are exploring “new forms of scholarly communication.” Commercial organizations first produced, then aggregated, and are now interlinking electronic publications. Initially aimed at facilitating access to that small segment of academic discourse that is codified in peer-reviewed publications, reference linking now is seen as a means of encouraging innovative exploration of that corpus. Research libraries and academic institutions have followed suit. They are creating more “open” forums for sharing the results of scholarly labor—for example, by assembling and integrating access to repositories of electronic theses and dissertations, scholarly preprints, and academic research data.
There are even a few innovative projects that transcend traditional publishing paradigms. For example, we see experiments in which scholars layer their own interpretation (that is, their scholarship) on top of networked information gathered from other sources. Once created and recorded online in a way that extensively hyperlinks analyses and pedagogical gestures with the primary evidence on which they are based, these networked scholarly monographs (or are they reference works?) can be made available for others to browse, critique, or use as sources for yet further “publication.”
The University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities has been the principal innovator of these new forms of scholarship. They are, however, becoming infectious as digital libraries tie their investments more to their users’ needs than to the strengths of their physical collections. Interesting new ventures are evident at such institutions as Columbia University (Earthscape, which is a project funded by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition [SPARC]), Cornell University (Euclid), the University of California (the California Digital Library’s e-scholarship program), and the University of Michigan. There is interesting work coming out of the American Council of Learned Societies in such areas as the historical monograph.
Scholarship—at last—is beginning to influence the way in which digital libraries are thinking about their technical infrastructure. While they once focused almost exclusively on relatively static library databases (e.g., catalogs, finding aids, and any digitally reformatted or locally loaded commercial content that was readily available), digital libraries are now being viewed in some places as repositories for scholarly information assets in a broader sense. Thus, Stanford is thinking about a repository that will preserve faculty and student Web sites along with other digital information. The Tri-College Consortium of Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore Colleges is initiating a project to bring together music information objects in an electronic environment for classroom use. Minnesota is investigating mechanisms for managing digital images developed in academic departments. There may soon be investigations into whether and to what extent the digital library supplies a logical home for online learning materials.
One immediate question is whether digital libraries are adequately connected to their scholarly communities to sustain these new and laudable objectives. In academic research libraries, very few digital library programs are fully involved in supporting academic and instructional uses of technology. Perhaps this has something to do with how the programs develop. Typically, they emerge with only a few staff members, enormous ambitions, and at some distance (spatially as well as professionally) from both library and academic staff. As part of the normal maturation process, the programs become organizationally and functionally embedded within the library. Digital library departments emerge with different titles but similar functions, and they take their place alongside mainstream library departments. Inevitably, they become part of the mainstream. As such, they seem to be hidden from more recent academic computing initiatives, such as those that focus on the development and application of instructional learning technologies. It is rare to find a digital library that is actively supporting or even integrating with such initiatives. The potential threat to the digital library is clear. Without established and constantly nurtured new conduits into these academic initiatives, even the best-intended efforts to support scholarship are bound to be limited or, in the most extreme cases, eclipsed.
The good news is that the digital library is showing signs that it may be able to serve a higher purpose—one that transcends its own collecting interests, important as those may be. The technologies are falling into place, as is understanding about what digital libraries can and perhaps ought to accomplish. Some work remains to be done on communicationson establishing new kinds of connections with scholarly communities and with the initiatives that have sprung up outside the libraries to support those communities in their use of information technology. This is not an easy task. Scholarly communities consist of numerous individuals, each with his or her own specialized (even idiosyncratic) needs. Academic computing initiatives often have developmental agendas that are distinct from those of the library. Still, the task ahead is to make these connections. How and to what extent those connections are established in the next few years will shape the digital library far into the future.
1 To read more about the study, which is being conducted by Daniel Greenstein and Suzanne Thorin, see www.diglib.org/roles.htm.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF digital libraries has prompted consideration of how we can harness the power of the personal computer to transform the system of scholarly communication and create an open system that is accessible to anyone, anywhere, at any time. The possibilities for transformation seem endless, and several higher education and library organizations have proposed ways in which a new system could solve specific problems they have experienced in the paper-based world.
Librarians and publishers, in the past, have tried to find ways to tackle jointly the more vexing questions associated with changes in scholarly communication. For example, in 1994, a time at which there were only hints of the enormous changes to come in scholarly communication, the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the Council on Library Resources initiated a collaborative study to explore the potential impact of digital technology on their organizations. The report from the yearlong study recommended that the two groups continue to work together to understand the changes that were taking place and to launch pilot projects that would educate both librarians and publishers.
In the intervening years, relatively little attention was paid to examining the entire scholarly communication process with an eye toward strengthening the parts of that system that work especially well. Digital technology has created both challenges and opportunities for libraries and for publishers. Scholarly communication must change to take full advantage of technology; at the same time, valued parts of the scholarly communication system, such as peer review and editing, must be protected and maintained. CLIR and the Digital Library Federation have sought to engage all members of the scholarly communication chain—information creators, distributors, custodians, and users—in a discussion of the most productive changes that can be made in the digital environment. Libraries and publishers alike are working to transform the scholarly communication system so that it best serves its users.
With a commitment to work together more effectively on behalf of the user community, the AAP Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division has joined with CLIR to create a Working Group of Librarians and Publishers. The first meeting of the group, held in New York City on January 31, 2002, was devoted to identifying common concerns and developing a problem-solving strategy.
Polled before the meeting, the group members identified nine issues that seemed worthy of joint action:
- Digital archiving. What have we learned from digital archiving projects currently under way? What needs to be done from the library perspective? From the publishing perspective?
- Hard copy archiving
- Technical standards. Which standards should be used for platforms, markup language, user verification and certification? What terminology should be used for usage statistics?
- Economic models. What models are appropriate for keeping back files of journals, for moving from print to digital, and for digital archives?
- Measurement of usage statistics
- Location of content. What are the issues with hyperlink access to cited materials and links to local catalogs from digital archives? What models exist for link maintenance?
- Collaborative efforts. What can be done to accelerate the transition from paper to digital, where appropriate?
- Aggregation of content. What are libraries’ concerns about bundled content, and publishers’ concerns about cost effectiveness?
- Advocating the value added of electronic resources in private industry and in government.
At the outset, members of the Joint Working Group agreed to set aside discussions of traditionally contentious issues such as journal pricing and copyright and intellectual property issues. Instead, members agreed to concentrate on challenges that both librarians and publishers face.
During the meeting, one participant observed that any one of the proposed topics could lead to productive, and probably long-term, projects. The challenge for the joint group, he noted, is to look beyond any single issue and to think collectively about what users expect from the system of scholarly communication. When they focus on users’ needs and preferences, how will libraries and publishers have to change their ways of doing business?
This is the central question from which the group’s discussions will proceed. Recognizing that the vision of a decade ago—that digital would completely overtake print—has now proved to be inaccurate, members will draft a vision of what users may expect from the scholarly communication system. The vision will be based on two assumptions. The first is that users need digital, print, audiovisual, and recorded sound resources to do their work; the second is that users are much less interested in the format of the materials than they are in finding the information they seek. Libraries and publishers share the goal of making information more readily accessible to users. Likewise, both wish to continue to hold an honored place in the scholarly communication system.
Over the next few weeks, the working group will be developing a vision statement that reflects users’ interests. In addition, the group will review significant work being done by other organizations to transform scholarly communication. Our hope is that the appropriate direction to take will become more apparent when we have a map of the current landscape.
The next meeting of the group will be held in May in Washington.
AT ITS MEETING in January 2002, the Academic Library Advisory Committee (ALAC) focused on a question that is central to its agenda: How can library services and content be more effectively integrated with Web-based teaching on campus? More specifically, how can the information and services that libraries offer through their Web pages, which now operate largely in stand-alone fashion, become integral components of students’ course work?
Faculty and administrators are finding course management software increasingly attractive. It not only makes classroom communication and administration more efficient but also provides materials that support learning. Unfortunately, libraries, despite their wealth of electronic resources, have not been extensively involved in the development of this software.
To explore how libraries can become part of course-management software development and to address larger questions of campus software interoperability, ALAC invited to the January meeting courseware and library system developers. Participants included courseware management system developers from Blackboard and WebCT; integrated library system developers from Innovative Interfaces, SIRSI, and Endeavor; a developer for the Open Knowledge Initiative; the executive director of the Coalition for Networked Information; representatives from JSTOR and Collegis/Eduprise; and the library director at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
The group explored the incorporation of licensed content into course pages as well as the need to include space for course reserves and electronic reference in those pages. Discussants focused on technical and organizational issues that arise from the use of course pages on campus. Technical issues included the need for a single sign-on, security and copyright concerns, and the role of portals. Another technical issue was ensuring interoperability among courseware, integrated library systems, and administrative systems.
From the organizational perspective, it became clear that librarians—as well as faculty members, information technologists, and senior administrative staff—must be included in the selection of course management software. This was underscored by the courseware developers’ admission that library content had previously been of little interest to them because librarians were generally not involved in selecting the campus courseware platform.
As discussions proceeded, it also became clear that the role of reference librarians is changing. Some reference librarians are working with faculty and students on information needs in the classroom. Others are serving students and faculty by developing electronic resources. ALAC will examine the nature of these changing roles in a study that will yield information about the current state of reference services and will identify exemplary practices.
On the basis of discussions at the meeting, the committee will determine the most fruitful issues for further exploration and will identify projects it might undertake with colleagues on campus and within the information technology and vendor communities. ALAC welcomes comments and advice from the library community.
The six-member ALAC was formed to explore how colleges, small and midsize universities, and independent research libraries are using digital information technology to improve research and teaching and to identify and resolve issues of common concern.
FORTY-SIX INDIVIDUALS from academic institutions ranging from community colleges to research universities have been accepted to participate in the third annual Frye Leadership Institute, to be held June 214, 2002, at Emory Univerity in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Frye Institute is designed to give librarians, information technology staff, and faculty an opportunity to learn from some of the leaders in higher education and to develop new ways of thinking about transforming systems for information resources management.
Frye Institute Participants, Class of 2002
Marianne Afifi, University of Southern California
A WORKSHOP ENTITLED “The State of Digital Preservation: An International Perspective,” will be held in Washington, D.C., April 2425. The program will feature speakers from the United States and abroad who have influenced thinking on digital preservation through their research or their program work.
The workshop is the first in a series of international symposiums that are supported by a grant from Documentation Abstracts, Inc. (DAI). The institutes will address key issues in information science relating to digital libraries, economics of information, or resources for scholarship. CLIR will hold at least two institutes in the next four years and will publish full proceedings of each.
To view the agenda and obtain logistical information, see https://www.clir.org/whatsnew.html#digital.
CLIR IS PLEASED to announce the appointment of the selection committee for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Access to Learning Award. The international award is given annually to a library, library agency, or comparable organization outside the United States that has been innovative in providing free public access to information. The selection committee will review applications and choose the award recipient. The award will be presented at the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) meeting in Glasgow in August 2002.
Applications for this year’s award must be postmarked by April 15.
Information about the award and application forms can be found at https://www.clir.org/fellowships/gates/gates.html.
Gloria Primm Brown
Senior Program Officer
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Curator, Africana Library
Library of African Studies
Carol A. Erickson
International Library Programs Manager
Libraries and Public Access to Information
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Barbara J. Ford
Assistant Commissioner, Central Library Services
Chicago Public Library
City Librarian, Los Angeles Public Library
Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport
Council of Europe
Robert D. Stueart
Professor and Dean Emeritus, Simmons College
The National Library of Latvia/
Latvijas Nacionala Biblioteka (LNB)
Director, Shanghai Library
AT ITS LAST meeting in November 2001, the CLIR Board bid a reluctant farewell to Billy Frye and Elaine Sloan, who completed their terms of service. Billy Frye, chancellor of Emory University, joined the CLIR Board after having served for several years on the board of directors of the Commission on Preservation and Access (CPA). Billy’s passion for libraries has been an inspiration to CLIR, and his insights into the challenges and opportunities facing the library profession have been indispensable. We are honored to carry on his legacy with the Frye Leadership Institute, which has already made a profound difference in the professional lives of more than 100 people.
Elaine Sloan has held joint responsibility for libraries and computing at Columbia University. She has also been library director at a variety of public and private research universities. Like Billy, she is a former member of the CPA board of directors. With her strong connections in both the library association and the scholarly worlds, and her commitment to preservation issues, Elaine has been an invaluable source of wisdom for the CLIR Board.
CLIR is pleased to welcome four new members to the Board.
Norman Fainstein, scholar of urban studies and president of Connecticut College
Michael Ann Holly, director of research and academic programs at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Herman Pabbruwe, senior advisor to Wolters Kluwer New York and Amsterdam, and president of Book-Ties, a strategic consultancy company in Washington, D.C.
James F. Williams, II, dean of libraries at the University of Colorado at Boulder
We look forward to working with these new Board members.
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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.