National Survey Documents Effects of Internet Use on Libraries
by Daniel Greenstein and Leigh Watson Healy
New Professionals for Old Jobs?
by Deanna B. Marcum
The Cost of Providing Access
by Abby Smith
EIGHTY PERCENT OF the students and faculty members who responded to a recent national survey stated that the Internet has changed the way in which they use campus libraries. More than one-third of the respondents overalland half of those in fields such as business and engineeringnow use the library less than they did just two years ago.
These are among the preliminary findings of the survey of more than 3,200 students and faculty members at universities and liberal arts colleges conducted by the Digital Library Federation (DLF) and the research firm Outsell, Inc. The main purpose of the inquiry was to learn how the Internet is affecting the work of students and scholars and what consequences Internet use will have on campus libraries. CLIR will publish full results of the study, entitled Dimensions and Use of the Scholarly Information Environment, this summer.
A preliminary analysis of findings indicates that respondents’ patterns of information use and their perceptions of libraries are not monolithic. Information needs vary depending on whether a user is a researcher, teacher, or student; they also vary on the basis of general academic field. Faculty and students in business and law view and use information differently than do those in the arts and humanities; the needs of engineers and physical scientists differ from those of both these groups. Patterns of use and perceptions also vary by type of institution: faculty and students at liberal arts colleges perceive of and use information differently than do their counterparts at universities.
Where Scholarly Work Is Done
The survey data provide insight into the workplaces of faculty and students: where they are (office, home, library), how they are equipped (network connections and hardware), and what portion of respondents’ working time is spent where. Of the time that graduate and undergraduate students devote to looking for information used in research and coursework, one-third is spent in campus libraries. When searching for and using information for research and teaching, faculty members, by contrast, spend only about 10 percent of their time in the library. Three-quarters of the time that professors, particularly those at universities, put into seeking information for teaching and research is spent in their offices. Of the time that undergraduates devote to finding and using information for coursework, about half is spent in their residences.
The data raise significant questions about how universities and colleges should allocate equipment and space both in the library and elsewhere on campus. For example, students and scholars alike rarely use network connections in computer labs, science labs, and classrooms for research, teaching, or learning. Does that argue for fewer connections in these locations? Are faculty members and students working so much outside the library because the information they need is readily available to them remotely? Or are they adjusting their information needs to suit their preferences for working environments?
It seems clear that libraries must be able to deliver effective services online, reaching faculty in their offices and everyone in their residences.
Much of the survey data deal with how respondents locate and obtain (or acquire access to) different kinds of information, such as books, print journals, e-journals, abstracts, and indexes. Search strategies differ depending on whether one is looking for resources for research, teaching, or learning. When searching for a hard-copy book as part of a research project, for example, 83 percent of faculty members and graduate students go online. Nearly half (47 percent) use printed sources (respondents could give more than one answer). Only 23 percent seek personal assistance to locate the book. The pattern for undergraduates looking for books or other materials used in a course is considerably different: fewer (72 percent) go on-line, and more (35 percent) seek personal assistance. Twenty-nine percent use printed sources to locate the material.
Information-seeking behavior also differs by kind of institution. For researchers at liberal arts colleges, online resource discovery is more important than it is for researchers at public and private universities, at least when searching for hard-copy books. This may reflect the fact that many college libraries’ collections are oriented toward teaching. Researchers at these institutions are dependent on outside libraries’ collections, which are most easily searched online. Personal assistance, conversely, is more important to researchers at private universities than it is to those at liberal arts colleges. This may demonstrate that research-collection strengths at private universities are matched by the level of reference services they offer.
The information-seeking behavior of students is the opposite of that for researchers. Personal assistance in locating hard-copy books is more important for students at liberal arts colleges than it is for their counterparts at universities.
Provision of Course Materials
The survey questionnaire requested information about how teachers distribute and students access readings and other materials for courses. A preliminary analysis indicates that teachers overwhelmingly prefer to distribute materials physically rather than online. Three-quarters of all teachers make course materials such as syllabi available to students through handouts; half also use course Web pages. When all electronic formats (e-mail, course Web pages, e-reserves) are considered together, nearly two-thirds of all teachers said they make at least some course materials available online. Fully 100 percent, however, provide such materials in physical form.
Some variation exists depending on type of institution and academic discipline. Teachers at liberal arts colleges prefer physical handouts more than their counterparts at universities do. Nearly four-fifths of physical scientists and engineers, compared with less than half of arts and humanities teachers, use the network as a means of distributing course materials. Libraries play only a small role in distributing the administrative information associated with courses.
For course readings, the picture is different. College teachers use more means than do their university counterparts to make readings and other learning materials available. They also place much greater emphasis on the library as a source for these materials. Variation is also apparent, though less pronounced, by discipline: in this area, the kind of higher-education institution makes a greater difference than does subject.
Trust of Internet Resources
The survey provides evidence that for online resources, faculty and students give high priority to speed and ease of access, information quality, and search functionality. They assign low priority to display options and user-support services. Library-supplied information is universally trusted and used. With Internet resources, three-quarters of the respondents agreed with the following statements: “The Internet contains information that I use and cite,” “The Internet contains high-quality information,” and “The Internet contains information from credible sources.” Only about half, by contrast, agreed with the assertion that “the Internet contains information that I use and trust.” Undergraduates and users at liberal arts colleges generally put greater faith in and make greater use of Internet resources than do persons who use university libraries. Arts and humanities users and social scientists trust Internet resources less than do their counterparts in other disciplines.
The preliminary data reveal that faculty and students are comfortable with both print and electronic information, with little or no variation by discipline, institution type, or kind of user. Most students and faculty feel that printed books and journals will continue to be important to them in five years. At the same time, they agreed that the amount of academically relevant Internet information is growing and that this may further reduce their use of physical libraries.
For more information about the study and its results, see http://www.diglib.org/use.htm.
THE INSTITUTE OF Museum and Library Services (IMLS) recently announced that with encouragement from former librarian and now First Lady Laura Bush, President George W. Bush has added $10 million to his budget proposal for the IMLS 2003 appropriation. This money has been earmarked for a program that will address the critical need of recruiting and training the next generation of librarians.
This is wonderful news for the profession. It will help us address the anticipated shortage of librarians. At the same time, we should use this opportunity not only to consider replacements for librarians who soon will retire but also to think more broadly about how the library will change and about the implications of those changes for staffing.
Workforce Shortages Forecast
IMLS has been impressed, no doubt, by recent demographic studies of the profession. In a press release announcing the program, it cited the most telling statistics: 40 percent of U.S. library directors expect to retire in nine years or less; 57 percent of professional librarians in 1998 were more than 45 years old. Mary Jo Lynch’s recent article in American Libraries broke down the expected retirement ages of the nearly 90,000 degree-holding librarians and found that 18,500 of those now working will reach typical retirement age between 2010 and 2014. A 1995 report by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) highlighted the especially severe circumstances for its member libraries, noting that “the percentage of the population of ARL librarians aged 45 and over is almost 75 percent higher than the percentage of those the same age employed in comparable professions.” Given these trends and projections, it is appropriate that the IMLS program will concentrate on recruitment.
Changed Work Environment
The profession itself, however, must address a second human resources challenge. We need to think about what it means to be a librarian in the twenty-first century. What is the nature of the work in a networked world? What form will libraries take? What kinds of physical collections are needed when so many users gain access from remote, decentralized sources? What organizational structure makes sense in the new environment? What kinds of staff expertise will be needed when we move from providing information services to facilitating learning? What kind of leadership is required for a library that customizes learning resources rather than acquires collections?
Reconceptualizing the Library and Librarians’ Roles
In an ideal world, we would proceed methodically to develop a strategy for the future, answering these questions before recruiting large numbers of new students. But such a deliberate course of action is not practical. We must proceed with a massive recruitment effort, especially since federal support will now be available for this purpose. At the same time, libraries must be transformed. Hiring new professionals for the old jobs will not be sufficient. We must reconceptualize the library itself.
The current era of ambiguity is not unlike the period in the early part of the twentieth century, when library education was moved from the libraries themselves to university classrooms. The American Library Association engaged in impassioned debates about the proper form of library education and where it should take place. Today, as schools of information and library science adjust their curricula to prepare their students for more diverse careers, librarians are forced to reconsider the educational requirements for those who will join their ranks. A new recruit’s acculturation into librarianship may take place only in the organization. Are libraries prepared to support this process?
More than ever, libraries must consider what education and training will be offered to their staffs. To ensure that we have staff capable of meeting the needs of the library of the future, we need to look to organizational development specialists for help in designing organizational structures that are appropriate for the virtual-information world. In addition, we need to find effective means of providing continuing education for librarians with or without library and information science degrees so that their skills can be renewed as technology changes and organizations evolve. Old ideas about who is a legitimate librarian will have to change. The skills needed to be effective in the new environment are likely to be found in an aggregation of professional talent.
The federal appropriation for recruiting and training librarians is well timed; but unless libraries address questions of roles, organizational structure, education, and training, we risk producing new professionals for old jobs. These problems warrant our immediate attention.
CLIR is committed to working on these issues. We welcome suggestions for program initiatives that will help institutions define the library of the future and set standards for the profession.
WITH THE SUPPORT of a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, CLIR will join with Dartmouth College Library to develop a Scholarly Communication Institute. The first session will be held in summer 2003.
The institute will bring together pioneers and innovators in scholarly communication for a one-week residential experience during which they will discuss institutional and discipline-based strategies for advancing innovation in scholarly communication. The annual sessions will foster this cadre of leaders as mentors to the next generation of individuals who will work at the forefront of the transformation of scholarly communication in a digital environment.
The institute will be held on the Dartmouth campus in Hanover, New Hampshire. Participation in each session will be limited to 20 individuals from the scholarly, library, publishing, and technology communities. Potential attendees must be nominated by their own institutions or by peers from other institutions. The nominator must submit evidence of the pioneering qualities of the nominee’s work.
Application information will appear on CLIR’s Web site in July.
IN MID-MAY, Digital Library Federation Director Daniel Greenstein will leave the DLF to become librarian of the California Digital Library. He has served as director of the DLF since December 1999. A successor has not yet been named.
In June, Director of Programs Anne Kenney will leave the CLIR staff to devote full time to her new position as associate university librarian at Cornell University.
“Dan and Anne have contributed enormously to CLIR, and we are very sorry to see them leave us. We are happy that both have been recognized for their talent, and we wish them much success,” said CLIR President Deanna B. Marcum.
A FORTHCOMING STUDY from the Digital Library Federation (DLF) and CLIR documents how DLF’s member research libraries are focusing their digital library programs. The report covers such topics as how and under what circumstances these programs were initiated, the influences that shaped their development, their organization and funding, and the difficulties they have encountered.
The report, entitled The Digital Library: A Biography, is based on information gathered in a survey questionnaire administered to 23 DLF members and on in-depth interviews at Harvard University, Indiana University, the University of Michigan, New York University, the University of Virginia, and the California Digital Library. In addition to illustrating the vastly different characters of digital libraries, the report provides a view of the challenges that lie ahead for them.
Key Attributes Identified
Authors Daniel Greenstein and Suzanne Thorin identify key attributes that have shaped the character of the programs they observed. Among these attributes is a program’s orientation toward the production of digital content. Fewer than half of the DLF member libraries invest primarily in digital reformatting programs. The rest focus on the development of infrastructure capable of managing digital assets or on the provision of reference and other innovative end-user services.
Differences in organization and leadership also influence a digital library’s character. While all of the programs surveyed were located in the library, about half resided wholly within separate digital library departments or units. The other half comprised loosely coordinated digital library activities that took place across the librarythat is, in different library departments or units. In most cases, the digital library programs have been shaped by the library’s collecting mission; however, in some instances, the programs have been shaped primarily by the university teaching and research missions.
A library’s relationship with surrounding academic departments and information services, such as academic computing or information technology, is also important. This is evident in the quality of collaboration between the library and these surrounding departments, as illustrated, for example, by the extent to which strategic planning in one department includes representatives from another department and takes account of other departments’ planning activities. The smaller digital libraries tended to have closer relationships with other departments than did larger libraries, but there were notable exceptions.
Life Stages of Digital Libraries
Among the attributes noted, maturity is perhaps the most important. For this reason, the report’s three main sections examine the “juvenile,” “adolescent,” and “adult” digital library and describe the qualities of each stage of development.
Juvenile libraries are portrayed as experimental, opportunistic organizations that are set apart from traditional library services. They operate in a protected environment with soft money. They are known for being competitive and for their quest for “killer applications,” whether in data and metadata formats, network protocols, or systems and system architectures.
The adolescent digital library, having acquired core competencies, focuses on integrating digital materials into the library’s collections and on developing and supportingwith core fundingthe requisite policies, technical capabilities, and professional skills to sustain its services. As the adolescent digital library becomes more sophisticated, it becomes less interested in killer applications and more interested in practicality and economy; however, it does not abandon experimentation. Compared with the juvenile library, it has greater freedom in the selection of service components, and it can manage and respond to change with greater ease. The extent to which adolescent libraries are able to continue developing depends almost entirely on their ability to transcend their historic organizational independence and insularity. As the integration of new technologies begins to transform the library and to create new opportunities, the adolescent library realizes it must engage users and reassess their interests and needs. For the juvenile library, this is not a major concern.
The adult digital library exists only in theory at present and must therefore be characterized on the basis of current trends. It will no longer be organizationally or functionally distinct from the library, and financial resources to maintain it will likely come from numerous budget lines rather than one.
Challenges for Digital Libraries
These developments will bring new challenges. As the academic library develops into a service organization that supports access to scholarly information in all formats, both on- and off-campus, it will require a sophisticated technical infrastructure. Nowhere does the library manage the sum total of that infrastructure; it relies on local campus networks that it does not build or manage. This recalls the pre-networked world—one in which discrete information service functions were built upon and maintained through distinctive technical platforms. Today, these discrete functions have moved into a networked environment where they are much more difficult to distinguish than they formerly were, in part because they rely on the same infrastructure. This creates new types of competition among departments that can impede the provision of services in an environment in which no single organization is able to assert a legitimate claim to that service. Digital archiving provides a good example. Who will take responsibility for the long-term maintenance of such diverse information as student records databases, data produced as a by-product of research, or online course materials?
While the biography of the digital library remains unfinished, the authors provide valuable perspectives on the challenges in store. In meeting these challenges, each digital library will bring its personality to bear, and, in the process, we will learn a great deal.
MARIA ROSE WILL examine antique pianos in French museum collections while studying archival sources about them. Drew Hopkins will study change in southeastern China by consulting both local residents and local government records. Daniel Neely will analyze Jamaican mento music by listening to archived recordings and making new ones.
These scholars are among the 11 recipients of the first round of Mellon Dissertation Fellowships for research in original sources in the humanities. CLIR awarded the fellowships in April. During their fellowships, all the recipients will use primary research resources of libraries, archives, and museums in creative ways.
A grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is enabling CLIR to award about 10 dissertation fellowships in each of three years, beginning this year. Each fellowship provides up to $20,000 to support dissertation research for a maximum of 12 months. CLIR received 128 eligible applications for the 2002 fellowship round.
The new program is designed to encourage graduate students in the humanities to use primary source materials, strengthen their ability to do so, and enable them to travel to the best sources for their projects. It will also give CLIR insight into problems and possibilities that scholars encounter in libraries, archives, and museums. The fellows begin their tenure by attending a workshop on understanding and working with primary source repositories and end it with reports on their experiences. Both events are sponsored by CLIR and held in Washington, D.C.
Originality and creativity in the use of primary resource resources were major criteria in the evaluation of applications. The fellows named above, for example, will combine different kinds of resources in search of new insights.
For a doctorate in musicology at New York University, Maria Rose will produce a dissertation on “L’Art de Bien Chanter and the Early French Piano Style, 17801820,” which will trace the piano’s development during that period. A pianist herself, Ms. Rose will examine instruments from the period in large collections in French and Belgian museums while also tracking down piano music, writings about methods, and performance reviews in French libraries.
For a doctorate in cultural anthropology at Columbia University, Drew Hopkins will write a dissertation on “Social History of Paper Production and Commerce in Western Fujian, China.” With in-country sponsorship from Xiamen University, he will analyze continuities and adaptations in China’s rural economic culture from 1843 to the present. Mr. Hopkins will use local government records, lineage genealogies, family ritual guides, and household account books to augment, clarify, and authenticate information from persons he will interview.
For a doctorate in ethnomusicology from New York University, Daniel Neely will combine personal interviews with field recording and archival research for a dissertation on “Mento Music and Jamaican National Identity.”
He will analyze changes in a kind of music that emerged from nineteenth-century plantations to become a popular genre among urban as well as rural musicians. He will use Jamaican libraries and archives for information on the music’s relationship to national identity struggles, discuss his findings with contemporary musicians with historical perspective, and record their performances. He will add his recordings to archives of previous performances that he will study.
Names, institutions, and areas of study of the other eight fellows are as follows: Sinan Antoon, Harvard University, Arabic literature; Brenda Foley, Brown University, interdisciplinary studies (history, theater, women’s studies); Christiane Gruber, University of Pennsylvania, art history; Angela Herren, City University of New York Graduate Center, pre-Columbian art history; Susan Pearson, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, United States history; Alisha Rankin, Harvard University, history of medicine; Natalie Rothman, University of Michigan, anthropology and history; and Paula Saunders, University of Texas at Austin, anthropology.
Application information for the 2003 Mellon Dissertation Fellowships will be available from CLIR by September 2002.
FUNDING FOR PRESERVATION of library materials will continue to be vulnerable until we talk about preservation as a core business expense for collecting institutions, a type of insurance policy for institutional assets, and a rational and surprisingly low-cost risk management strategy for libraries, archives, historical societies, and museums.
Preservation as a distinct activity within libraries developed later than did other core services such as reference and cataloging. Because of the particular model of funding for preservation reformatting of physically endangered collections that developed in the 1980s and 1990s, many preservation departments expanded on so-called soft money. One of the consequences of this historical accident is that preservation departments are more dependent on grant funds for core operations than are other functions, such as reference and cataloging services.
But why should preservation be more vulnerable than cataloging to contractions and expansions in philanthropy? How can libraries treat preservation as anything less than a mandatory health insurance policy for their core institutional assets? At a recent gathering sponsored by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, regional preservation organizations discussed the results of market surveys of preservation needs and funding they had undertaken with support from the foundation. These surveys revealed that current and potential users of preservation services value preservation services but do not see them as a necessary expenditure. Meeting participants concluded that moving many preservation services to a cost-recovery fee structure seemed untenable. The preservation centers report a lack of awareness of the need for preservation and a corresponding lack of support for preservation among those who allocate resources within institutions—especially institutions such as museums, which have a public-education mission.
It is common to blame the lack of support for preservation on the make-up of boards of directors or on institutional trustees, who often come from the for-profit sector. Some accuse these individuals of being unsympathetic to the needs or cultures of nonprofit institutions. It is, however, unlikely that they volunteered to serve institutions whose core missions they do not support and value. We might as well blame ourselves for failing to educate those people who are best positioned to make sound financial decisions. What good businessperson does not insure his or her company’s assets? And what is preservation but insurance against loss?
A board’s lack of awareness is typically a symptom of a deeper problem. Lack of awareness begins among library staff and management. In many cases, it can be traced to the educational institutions responsible for training librarians, archivists, or curators. In libraries, for example, leaders tend to emerge from the ranks of catalogers, reference specialists, and now technologists. Seldom, if ever, do they come from preservation. Consequently, today’s managers are themselves often unaware of the strategic role that preservation plays in collection management and cost containment.
One curious finding of the regional centers’ surveys was that institutional managers frequently become aware of preservation only when forced to deal with a disaster. It is human nature to be riveted by the needs of urgent mitigation and bored by those of measured prevention, as any family doctor knows well. But an equally curious fact is that while insurance policies may often be hard sells, the one group most aware of their value is senior managers in the private sector. If library managers continue to talk about cultural assets as things dependent for their survival on the kindness of strangers and philanthropists, then they will not be able to secure the resources needed to fulfill the custodial mission of libraries. Library managers do not need to convince business people that the costs of prevention beat the consequences of mitigation, but they do need to incorporate this rhetoric into their discourse.
Preservation needs to be calculated as one of the key costs of providing access. It needs to be viewed as an activity just as essential to access as is cataloging. The burden of funding preservation of digital information to which institutions provide access but do not own any rights is known to be a major economic challenge for digital archiving. However, there can be no doubt that for artifactual collections, good storage conditions, disaster preparedness, and other preventive measures to protect information assets owned by a library constitute investments that in any other business would be deemed essential.
MATHILDE AND HOWARD Rovelstad have contributed funds to CLIR to establish an annual fellowship program that will enable an American student of library and information science to attend the yearly meeting of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). The purpose of the award is to encourage students who have an interest in international librarianship and to enable them to begin participating in IFLA early in their careers.
Mathilde Rovelstad was a professor of library science at The Catholic University of America from 1960 to 1990. She taught courses in international librarianship. Howard Rovelstad was director of libraries at the University of Maryland from 1946 to 1970. Both were active members of IFLA throughout their careers. Now retired and living in Catonsville, Maryland, the Rovelstads are eager to encourage library science students to consider the international dimensions of their profession.
Fellowship candidates must be enrolled in an accredited school of library and information science. CLIR will establish the guidelines and a competitive process for the fellowship program. The first award will be made in 2003, allowing the new fellow to attend the IFLA meeting in Berlin in August 2003.
|Council on Library and Information Resources|
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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.
Anne R. Kenney
Deanna B. Marcum