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CLIR Issues Number 28

Number 28
July/August 2002


A Matter of Public Good
by Deanna B. Marcum

Perspectives on Digital Preservation
by Abby Smith

David Seaman to Head Digital Library Federation

Digital Libraries Seek Interoperability
by Jerry George

Merging Library and Technology Services in Liberal Arts Colleges: CIOs Meet
by Susan Perry

Who Says the Library Won’t Survive?
by Jerry George

CLIR and Cornell to Launch Web-Based Preservation Tutorials

A Matter of Public Good

by Deanna B. Marcum

SCHOLARSHIP AND TEACHING, distance education, and individual inquiry are enhanced by access to materials that are in the public domain. Teachers want to find exemplary materials to distribute to their students. Institutions of higher education want to provide their off-campus students the same access to instructional materials that students on campus enjoy. Libraries are eager to digitize their special collections to increase access to materials that would otherwise not be available to the public at large.

Meeting any of these educational objectives has become more difficult since the enactment of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, a law that extends by 20 years the length of time for which works are protected by copyright. Under this act, the term of protection for an author’s published work remains in effect for the life of the author plus 70 years (it was previously in effect for the life of the author plus 50 years). The law applies not only to work created since the act was approved, but to any work created on or after January 1, 1978.

CLIR has joined 14 other academic and professional organizations to file an amici curiae (friend of the court) brief asking the Supreme Court to rule that the extended term of protection for copyrighted works is unconstitutional.1

CLIR rarely takes a position on policy issues being debated in Washington, D.C. Because our different constituent communities are likely to hold diverse views on any given issue, our goal is to describe each issue as objectively as possible, highlighting particular communities’ needs and interests. In this case, many legal arguments can be recited, but CLIR’s views on the subject are based on the very mission of the organization: CLIR works to expand access to information, however recorded and preserved, as a public good.

Copyright law must balance economic interests with the interests of the public good. The Constitution recognizes the need to motivate and reward the expression of ideas by giving creators exclusive control over their work for a limited period. Over the years, the term of this protection has been increased, and the result has been that less goes into the public domain. At what point does “limited” become “indefinite”?

The legislation inhibits scholars, authors, and artists from creating and distributing new works that incorporate works whose copyright has not expired. This is particularly problematic now, because many scholars and others are using digital technology and multimedia techniques to create new works by incorporating material from works already in the public domain.

When the life of the author plus 70 years is the metric for information passing into the public domain, libraries have an inordinately difficult task of creating digital libraries of materials relevant to contemporary teaching and research. We know from our recent studies of user behavior that a great majority of students look for information on the Web, and if they do not find precisely what they are looking for, they will accept reasonable approximations. Librarians across the country are working to create Web-based learning resources for the members of their campus communities. These efforts are seriously impeded when librarians must secure individual permissions from all authors or their estates before they can make educational materials available.

In the case of the Copyright Term Extension Act, there is little doubt that the economic interests are being served at the expense of the public good. The entertainment companies that hold rights to famous music or cartoon characters are the primary beneficiaries of the legislation. We believe that scholars want to make their research findings accessible, and their ability to create knowledge by exchanging and assessing the products of scholarship should not be thwarted because media companies are interested in protecting their digital assets. Their interests and problems are real, but we should not create a situation in which scholarly works are held hostage.

1 A copy of the brief is available at

Perspectives on Digital Preservation

by by Abby Smith

IN THE SIX years since CLIR and the Research Libraries Group published Preserving Digital Information, there has been an unprecedented growth in digital information: Web content, electronic books and journals, digital media, online courseware, and a host of other resources. The very proliferation of this information makes it impossible to overlook the challenges inherent in preserving it.

Much progress has been made since the Task Force on Digital Archiving issued its report in 1996. Digital conversion standards and best practices have evolved, as have important initiatives in metadata and data exchange protocols, and even technologies for moving digital information from one hardware and software system to another. Nonetheless, the development of a preservation infrastructure for digital information has moved slowly. This spring, therefore, the time seemed right to revisit the Task Force report. With a grant from Documentation Abstracts, Inc., CLIR convened an international symposium, “The State of Digital Preservation: An International Perspective,” to document progress and to learn about promising work in this area from individuals who are extensively involved in it. The meeting was held in Washington, D.C., on April 24­25.

Keynote speaker Kenneth Thibodeau, director of the Electronic Records Archives Program at the National Archives and Records Administration, gave an overview of current technological approaches to preserving digital objects and indicated some of the greatest challenges we will face in the near future. He spoke at length about developing Persistent Object Preservation (POP), the technology that the National Archives is using to preserve such records as the 38 million e-mails of the Clinton presidency. In contrast to such technologies as migration or “digital archaeology,” POP is prospective: it focuses on documenting enough about a digital file to make it possible to reproduce it in the future.

Among the most important developments in digital preservation since 1996, in Thibodeau’s opinion, is that both the National Archives and the Library of Congress (LC) have been successful in alerting Congress to the possible catastrophic loss of current information. Consequently, both agencies have obtained mandates and funding from Congress to address the digital preservation problem.

Laura Campbell, director of the National Digital Library Program at LC described the Library’s plans to build a digital preservation infrastructure for the nation. After consulting with creators, producers, distributors, and users of digital information, as well as with librarians, archivists, and technologists, LC has confirmed wide support for a national effort to ensure that creative output that exists digitally will be available for future generations. LC has begun to explore its role in the network of libraries and repositories that will be responsible for managing the long-term access to these information assets. The Library has also begun to articulate a research agenda that will address the salient technological barriers to persistence.

Margaret Hedstrom, associate professor in the School of Information and Library Studies at the University of Michigan and the leader of LC’s effort to define a research agenda, discussed the progress of federally funded preservation initiatives. Executives from two enterprises active in the creation and management of digital assets, one not-for-profit and one commercial, described digital preservation challenges from the point of view of service providers and creators. Meg Bellinger, vice president of digital and preservation resources at OCLC, talked of the library and information services that OCLC is developing. Many of these services are a natural outgrowth of the core services that OCLC has provided to members for decades, from scanning to metadata creation. Wendy Aylsworth, vice president for technology at Warner Brothers, described the stunning growth in the number of digital assets this company manages. She noted that for Warner Brothers, preserving these assets makes good business sense since the company often reuses them in new commercial products.

These presentations indicated that the demand for digital preservation will spawn new services that libraries can use. They also made clear that the commercial sector and libraries must find solutions to the same types of preservation problems if they want to remain viable over time. The respective roles of commercial and library service providers in solving preservation problems were far less clear six years ago.

Two international speakers provided insights into how national libraries are marshalling their resources and thinking strategically to advance preservation in their libraries. Titia van der Werf, researcher at the National Library of the Netherlands, reported on that institution’s program to preserve electronic publications. She urged the audience to learn by doing. Librarians and archivists often feel overwhelmed by the scope of the task of preserving digital information, but such a reaction, she said, is a natural by-product of working in a cultural memory institution, where the challenges of preservation become evident well before they are apparent to the general public. Caution may be appropriate, but inaction caused by a fear of making mistakes is not. Colin Webb, director of the preservation services branch of the National Library of Australia, recounted his experience trying to collaborate with technologists who do not understand the need for preservation. He noted that progress comes more easily when there is a free exchange of information about failed efforts as well as successful ones.

Donald Waters, program officer at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and coauthor of Preserving Digital Information, expanded on themes articulated in that report, one of which was the importance of developing sustainable economic models to support the long-term health of trusted digital repositories. The Mellon Foundation currently funds two approaches to e-journal archiving, one that focuses on acquiring presentation files of journals (that is, what one sees on the screen), and another that focuses on source files, which come directly from the publisher. Both approaches have differing costs and risks; the work supported by Mellon is designed to yield information that will advise libraries and publishers on which approach may best suit their needs. Waters also touched on the need for trust among partners in the digital landscape, another theme in the 1996 report. Trust is among the most elusive, yet most ineluctable, cornerstones of the preservation infrastructure now being created.

CLIR will publish the proceedings of the seminar this summer. Future seminars in this series will address emerging trends in digital librarianship, the economics of information, and resources for scholarship.

David Seaman to Head Digital Library Federation


DAVID SEAMAN HAS been named director of the Digital Library Federation (DLF), effective July 25, 2002. Since 1992, Mr. Seaman has been director of the Electronic Text Center at the University of Virginia Library. The center’s mission is to create an online archive of standards-based texts and images in the humanities and to build and support user communities adept at the creation and use of online resources.

Mr. Seaman will work from the Washington, D.C., offices of CLIR, which is the administrative home of the DLF. CLIR President Deanna Marcum said, “David Seaman’s work at the University of Virginia’s Electronic Text Center has connected the library and the scholarly community in an exemplary way. We are delighted that he will bring that experience to the Digital Library Federation.”

Mr. Seaman holds a master’s degree in medieval studies from the University of Connecticut and a bachelor’s degree in English studies from the University of East Anglia. He has completed course work for a Ph.D. degree in English from the University of Virginia.

Mr. Seaman succeeds Daniel Greenstein, who directed the DLF for two-and-a-half years before accepting the position of university librarian and director of the California Digital Library.

Digital Libraries Seek Interoperability

THE DIGITAL LIBRARY Federation (DLF) focused its semiannual forum, held in Chicago in May, on what may well be the next great challenge to digital library development—achieving interoperability.

“The goal of interoperability,” as expressed by authors of an article cited at the forum, “is to build coherent services for users from components that are technically different and managed by different organizations.”1 For library administrators, “it’s all about agreements and organizations;” . . . for computer scientists, “it’s all about interfaces,” said forum participant John Helly of the San Diego Super Computer Center.

The focus on interoperability seemed appropriate to forum planners because digital libraries, already providing access to growing quantities of online information, also have laid the groundwork for interoperability through such developments as METS (Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard) schema and OAIS (Open Archival Information System), a technical framework for developing Internet portal services.

But before the forum’s end, the 122 participants also heard that interoperability may require fundamental conceptual change. For example, former DLF Director Daniel Greenstein declared, “It’s time to stop thinking of our digital libraries as separate entities.” Bradley Wheeler, an associate dean at Indiana University, called for “unbundling library services” so they may readily be drawn upon through portals that provide students with personalized services that are accessible on portable devices rather than stationary PCs. Robin Murray, chief executive officer of Fretwell-Downing Informatics, asserted that implementing interoperability will require closing a chasm between “innovators,” who dream of “revolutionary improvements,” and “pragmatists,” who seek “incremental improvements with tangible business benefits.”

In the opening address, entitled “Next-Generation Interoperability,” Murray gave an overview of the prospects for three kinds of interoperability: (1) “intraprocess integration,” which means aligning systems so that users can search across databases rather than consult each database separately; (2) “interinstitutional cooperation,” which means developing mechanisms for the sharing of resources among institutions; and (3) “interprocess integration,” which means connecting institutional systems of different kinds, such as systems for administration, library resources, and learning delivery.

Interinstitutional cooperation is under development in several projects described at the forum. For example, David Ruddy described how Cornell University is working with the University of Michigan and the Göttingen Library in Germany to enable their systems to interoperate so that users may have access to the collection of mathematics monographs at each of these three universities. Aaron Choate described how the University of Texas at Austin is developing a standards-based framework for sharing many of its digital resources “with the world community.” Peter Brantley described work on Shibboleth, a program for digital authentication and authorization that will support interinstitutional sharing of resources that are subject to access restrictions.

Speakers dealt with a range of interoperability questions. For example, could it be possible for scholars to make a single search of a collection that contains multiple kinds of material with multiple kinds of metadata? Perry Willett of Indiana University described work to make that possible for users of recordings, manuscripts, and correspondence in the Hoagy Carmichael collection. Can digital libraries and instructional technology programs interact for the benefit of teachers and students? MacKenzie Smith of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) described how its projects in instructional technology—the OpenCourseWare and Open Knowledge Initiative projects—are collaborating with the MIT Libraries’ DSpace repository to extend the reach of digital libraries into the classroom. Can knowledge communities communicate with each other? Can institutions integrate library collections, scientific data, and historical archives for users searching for material of all these kinds on a particular subject? Dawn Talbot of the University of California, San Diego, talked about an effort to integrate materials on oceanography in a project that has brought a librarian aboard a research vessel—a project she described as involving “onboard data processing,” and boasting “the first floating digital library conference.”

Speakers also identified serious inhibitions to interoperability. Will libraries in effect be giving up their “branded” collections for seamless searching? Who pays for centralization? Which institution collects the use statistics? John Price Wilkin of the University of Michigan expressed concern about the lack of a “strong understanding of user needs.” Efforts to achieve such understanding were described at the forum in reports of work on reference tools by OCLC and the Library of Congress, on Penn State’s Visual Image User Study, and on a survey of electronic-information users conducted by Outsell, a research firm, for the DLF.

The forum ended, as it began, with praise for Daniel Greenstein, who left his position as director of the DLF on May 1 to become university librarian and director of the California Digital Library. Winston Tabb of the Library of Congress and a member of the DLF Steering Committee, praised Greenstein for “a job superbly and memorably done.” CLIR President Deanna Marcum concluded the forum with “deep appreciation” for Greenstein’s accomplishments. She also thanked Dale Flecker of Harvard for his willingness to coordinate DLF initiatives until a new director can take charge, discussed planning for the DLF’s future, and encouraged directors of member libraries to become more closely involved in the DLF.

1 Arms, William Y., et al. 2002. A Spectrum of Interoperability. D-Lib Magazine 8(2). Available at

Merging Library and Technology Services in Liberal Arts Colleges: CIOs Meet

by Susan Perry THE NUMBER OF merged information services units on the campuses of liberal arts colleges is growing. Several of these units have been in existence long enough, and have been successful enough, to make a convincing case that this method of providing information and computing services is likely to endure. To better understand how merged library and computing organizations are developing, and to give their directors an opportunity to discuss their concerns and share ideas, CLIR convened a meeting of these directors on May 13. Participants came from institutions that are CLIR sponsors or are members of The Andrew W. Mellon National Institute for Teaching and Liberal Education.

The discussion highlighted many interesting differences and commonalities among the new information services units. For example, the motivations for merging the units varied considerably. Some mergers were sparked by a crisis in the library or the computing side of the information resources house. A second reason for the mergers was to save money. Most of the directors, however, believed that the best reason for merging was to provide more integrated information services.

The merged units offer a variety of services. Many cover all library, computing, and media services. Some include writing centers and slide libraries. Others have a more limited scope of responsibility for library and academic computing services.

Directors of the new units come from a variety of backgrounds: librarianship, computing, media services, and teaching. Their titles likewise vary and include such designations as chief information officer, college librarian, director of library and information services, and vice president or assistant vice president for information services.

While backgrounds, responsibilities, and titles vary, the individuals who hold these positions have several things in common. Foremost are the challenges they face in straddling the worlds of library services and computing services. They search for new words to describe their organizations and new ways to describe the work and titles of their staff. They all know that they are breaking new ground.

Much of the discussion during the meeting focused on new organizational relationships, new planning models, and on the need for new kinds of staffing, new kinds of staff training, and differently conceived functions.

Emerging Organizational Relationships

The position of the merged units within these institutions varies as widely as do the directors’ responsibilities. Some directors report to the president; others report to the chief academic officer.

Directors whose positions place them at the senior staff level have had to learn to view the needs of the library and technology unit within the context of broader institutional needs. Many of these directors are working with the college’s board of trustees for the first time. They are learning that members of board technology committees often approach technology from a corporate perspective, and they often have to help board members understand technology as it is applied in an academic setting.

Some directors are convinced that merging information services and technology services will become the norm; others are not. All agreed that while organization charts appear to be fixed and grounded in the culture of the individual college, they do not tell the whole story. Furthermore, they agreed that it is important for their staff to work differently with one another to serve the information and technology needs on their campuses.

Defining a New Professional Identity

Many directors find that positions within their units are changing as needs change. This creates new challenges for recruiting staff. The directors have to develop new position descriptions and provide new training opportunities for the staff members who hold them. Many institutions are trying to combine traditional “reference” and instructional technology (or help desk services) into a single service or to create more closely aligned service units. A second concern is changing information delivery mechanisms and an increased demand for classroom and Web support. All staff members must be able to work as parts of cross-functional teams, to learn on the job, and to help others learn. The directors underscored the importance of working closely with the human resources staff in their institutions to ensure that they understand and can help guide the changes. All agreed that it is more important to focus on strong service values than on organizational structure, and that it is essential that the leader of the merged organization support and encourage change.

The directors agreed that no single training path or professional degree can ensure the success of a new staff member. While individuals with a library degree are still in demand, recruiters also seek candidates with a liberal arts education and strong computing skills or persons with Ph.D. degrees and an interest in applying information and technology in the academic environment. One member of the group suggested creating apprenticeship programs and technology certifications as a way of reworking library education.

Who Says the Library Won’t Survive?

by Jerry George

HOW WILL DIGITAL technologies affect the roles and responsibilities of academic and research libraries? To address the question, nine scholars, librarians, and technologists spoke at CLIR’s annual Sponsors’ Symposium on April 26. CLIR holds the symposium for representatives of institutions, primarily colleges and universities, that benefit from CLIR’s work and contribute financially to it. In appreciation, CLIR President Deanna Marcum explained, CLIR invited librarians at its 159 sponsoring institutions to “a day of thought-provoking discussion.”

Sponsors heard optimistic forecasts of the future of academic libraries. The academic and research libraries will become “the ultimate Internet café,” and continue as a “champion of the free flow of access,” an “information container” full of “virtual reality” experiences, and even a provider of rediscovered, highly useful “content packages” called books. And librarians’ roles as navigators of a growing body of material in many formats will be indispensable to students and scholars overwhelmed by information options.

The program began with an address by Bernard Frischer, professor of classics at the University of California at Los Angeles and director of the university’s Cultural Virtual Reality Laboratory. The laboratory, said Frischer, is a “real-time immersive theater” in which edge-blending projectors surround students and scholars with images that put them inside what they are studying—reconstructions of ancient Rome, of complex molecules, or of far-off galaxies. By 2012, Frischer believes, most research libraries in the United States will have such a theater, along with other information products made possible by digital technologies.

Frischer sees a bright future for research libraries for several reasons. For one thing, he said, “the book is not dying out.” There are more books today than ever, because print-on-demand technology makes them cheaper to produce and people “prefer printed books to books online.” Special-collections librarians will continue to preserve “precious documents” that scholars will still need to consult in their original forms.

Moreover, said Frischer, users of digital content need research libraries, even though they may not know it. Libraries meet user needs for information management and presentations using multiple log-ins and multiple screens that are not available in offices or homes. Libraries can be containers for all kinds of information. By providing spaces that foster community, libraries also can become “the ultimate Internet café” for their campuses. Someone needs to preserve high-quality digital products. Why not the research library?

Responding to Frischer’s remarks, Micheline Jedrey of Wellesley College said that she had detected an expanded appetite for experimentation and described efforts in the Wellesley Library to develop electronic information services, provide training for Internet resource use, and establish technologically supported learning spaces that bring people together. Alice Prochaska of Yale University, while cautioning about the necessity of cost trade-offs in library restructuring, also welcomed the advent of the mature integrated library, which will provide “seamless access to material in whatever form” and accommodate the social aspects of learning.

Steven Worona, director of policy and networking at EDUCAUSE, stated that students are arriving on campus with expectations of more technological support than colleges now provide, that computer chat rooms have an advantage over social space by allowing multiple conversations to go on simultaneously, and that eventually “there will be no limit to the amount of information you can carry on your belt.” Libraries must take all these considerations into account. At the same time, research librarians retain their roles as preservers of content, as intermediaries, or, in Gregory J. E. Rawlins’s1 words, as “mapmakers” for information seekers, as “filters” who identify quality information, and as “ferrets” who find information that search engines miss.

Worona added that libraries remain needed as champions of broad access to information. Many digital information products carry access restrictions, including, in one case that he cited, a prohibition on reading an e-book aloud. The increased use of licensed arrangements in lieu of purchase, which is protected by the copyright doctrine of first sale, is challenging libraries’ ability to provide intellectual access.

Responding to Worona’s presentation, Ann Wolpert of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology declared that it is easier to create services than it is to sustain them. Infrastructures must be built to support new services, copyright restrictions clash with how users want to operate, and unfunded mandates are developing, particularly over preservation responsibilities. “Nobody knows the costs of doing what it is suggested we do,” she said. Research libraries need “success metrics” and business plans. Nonetheless, librarians are moving as fast as their institutions and resources will allow. She reported a survey in which students responded, “Please buy more books. They package content in useful ways.”

Victoria Hanawalt of Reed College focused on staffing concerns. A high percentage of librarians are becoming eligible to retire, which means that new staff must be recruited and trained. The workforce shortage is reflected in the growing number of nonprofessional librarians now employed by libraries. A related concern is that training programs must be reexamined if they are to provide future staff with the blend of skills that will be needed in the future.

In the final panel of the day, “How We Get There From Here,” Thomas Leonard of the University of California, Berkeley, described ways to capitalize on space to promote social interactions. Sarah Thomas of Cornell University stressed the need for sharing resources, expertise, storage, collection management, access portals, and reference services. She called for partnerships among libraries and with computing centers, faculties, learned societies, publishers, and commercial entities. Elliott Shore of Bryn Mawr College added that faculty and librarians alike “need to reconsider their roles in the university for purposes of collaboration.”

The symposium concluded with small-group discussions of sponsors’ efforts and how CLIR might be of additional help in bringing about “the library of the future.”

  1. Rawlins, Gregory J. E. 1992. The New Publishing: Technology’s Impact on the Publishing Industry Over the Next Decade. Public-Access Computer Systems Review 3(8):5-63.

CLIR and Cornell to Launch Web-Based Preservation Tutorials

IN LATE JULY, CLIR and Cornell University will launch the first in a series of Web-based tutorials on preservation. John Dean and Anne Kenney of Cornell designed the initial tutorial for use in Southeast Asia, with the particular needs and challenges of that region in mind.

The tutorial has four main parts: Preservation Management and Planning, Preservation, Building Capacity, and Supporting the Effort. The narrative is illustrated by line drawings rather than photographs to avoid download delays. Much of the narrative presents new information of particular relevance to librarians and preservationists in tropical climates (e.g., passive climate control to avoid the need for air-conditioning and integrated pest management to avoid the need for chemical pesticides). The tutorial also includes a glossary and information on how to contact local vendors.

The Henry Luce Foundation provided funding for the tutorial, which will be available at

Council on Library and Information Resources
1755 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 939-4750
Fax: (202) 939-4765 · E-mail:
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.

Alice Bishop
Special Projects Associate

Gerald George
Special Projects Associate

Anne R. Kenney
Director of Programs

Deanna B. Marcum

Susan Perry
Director of Programs

Abby Smith
Director of Programs

Kathlin Smith
Editor and Director of Communications

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