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CLIR Issues Number 31

Number 31
January/February 2003


CLIR’s Direction for 2003
by Deanna B. Marcum

Cooperating to Build Collections in the Digital Era
by Abby Smith

Optimism and Caution Voiced at Digital Library Forum
by Jerry George

Richard Detweiler Joins CLIR as Distinguished Fellow

DAI Institute to Focus on New Visions for Access

Forthcoming Publications

CLIR’s Direction for 2003

by Deanna B. Marcum

The beginning of a new year brings a sense of optimism and excitement. We at CLIR are encouraged by the successes of the past months and look forward to taking on new challenges in 2003.

Understanding User Behavior

Just over a year ago, we set for ourselves the objective of considering library-related questions from the user’s perspective. How does the user locate and retrieve information? Do existing library tools facilitate this process, and does the user take advantage of these tools? What is the relationship between library-created tools and search engines? CLIR and the Digital Library Foundation (DLF), with advice from librarians who have been most concerned about the users’ perspectives, commissioned Outsell, Inc., to conduct a massive study of current users’ behaviors and perspectives. CLIR has just published the results of the study, which surveyed more than 3,200 students and faculty members from liberal arts colleges and universities across the country. We believe that the greatest value of the data set will be to support deep analysis of specific questions, and we are planning to commission several focused analyses.

Attracting Scholars to the Profession

In November, the CLIR Board decided to move ahead with plans to develop a program that will create an alternate entry path to the profession of librarianship. Our goal is to incorporate more academically trained professionals into the research library staff. The future academic library will require an aggregation of professions to be successful. Some librarians will come from schools of library and information science, some will come from computer science or information technology. Still others will come from the scholarly disciplines.

To reach these potential librarians, we propose to identify 10 to 20 research libraries that have an interest in and commitment to changing the profession and to collaborate with them to form a network of teaching libraries. Each of the libraries would be asked to identify a specialty it would offer—either a disciplinary specialty, such as African studies, or a functional specialty, such as digital preservation. The institution would then develop a curriculum for the interns who come to that program. CLIR would help each library develop its curriculum and internship experience.

CLIR would recruit to the program young scholars who have recently completed or are nearing the end of their Ph.D. programs and who believe that the challenges of helping create scholarly resources for the future may also be realized in an academic library. We expect to select 10 to 12 such individuals each year. Each scholar will complete a yearlong internship at one of the collaborating libraries, following the curriculum established by that library. At the end of the program, CLIR will help place the interns in professional positions in academic libraries across the country.

Detailed planning for the program will begin in January 2003. We expect to spend a year identifying the teaching libraries and recruiting the first class of interns and to launch the program in the summer or fall of 2004.

Scholarly Communication Institute

Plans are taking shape for a new Scholarly Communication Institute, developed in collaboration with Dartmouth College. The first session of the Institute will be held on the Dartmouth campus July 13Ð18, 2003. Although future sessions will be open to all applicants on a competitive basis, the 2003 Institute will be an invitational session for university administrators, scholars, and scholarly communication innovators, who will be asked to help us articulate the desirable futures for scholarly communication and create a curriculum that will be used for subsequent sessions. CLIR will publish and distribute a report of the first session.

Economics of Information

CLIR has identified two projects that will advance its agenda in the economics of information. In the first, a group of chief information officers (CIOs) from liberal arts colleges will collaborate with economic consultants to study how current work can be restructured in order to provide these colleges with the time and resources they need to take on the important tasks connected with the digital transformation. The CIOs of liberal arts colleges are uniquely positioned to understand the sometimes overlapping or duplicative tasks carried out by the libraries and information technology divisions on their campuses. The results of this project will offer guidance to other institutions that want to rethink the nature of their work at a time of budgetary constraints.

In the second project, CLIR will investigate the costs of acquiring, integrating into existing access systems, and maintaining electronic resources in libraries. Providing optimal access to licensed e-resources or to resources that are created on campuses frequently involves a considerable investment, even after the license fee is paid or the campus-built content is mounted. We will work with an economic analysis firm to study the economic impact of providing access to digital information and to develop business models that help support those activities.

CLIR has also entered into collaboration with the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University to study the sustainability of organizations and projects working on some aspect of cultural heritage. Since the emergence of the Internet, many arts and humanities groups, in particular, have become interested in developing resources and tools that will facilitate the creation of, access to, and use of digital cultural heritage materials. The financial resources to sustain such projects are, however, elusive. Consultant Diane Zorich has recently completed a study of the business models for 35 organizations or projects. A steering committee, working with Ms. Zorich, will examine the results of the study and develop recommendations for advancing the goals of these organizations during economically difficult times. We hope that this preliminary work will lead to the design and implementation of a project in this area.

Redefining Preservation in the Twenty-first Century

As the information landscape has changed, so, too, has the context in which libraries make decisions about what to keep for future scholarly use, in what form to make it available, how to ensure that it remains fit for use, and who is responsible for maintaining it. Later this year, CLIR will host an invitational meeting that will bring together scholars, library directors, university administrators, publishers, and representatives from the legal and preservation communities to examine the assumptions that have informed preservation practice to date and to discuss the implications of the changed environment for new forms of cooperation.

The Library as a Space for Teaching and Learning

Most of CLIR’s projects are inspired by a single question: What is the role of the library when people no longer have to go there to obtain information? One important role is to provide a space for teaching and learning. The availability of new technologies to support learning, and a trend toward teaching that emphasizes hands-on, group assignments, are creating new demands for group study space, equipment, and services that the library is uniquely positioned to meet.

This year, CLIR will undertake at least two projects related to how institutions are planning for libraries that meet the changing needs of users. In late spring, CLIR will publish the results of a survey of the academic needs that motivate library renovation and new construction. The study, written by Scott Bennett, librarian emeritus of Yale University, will examine the interplay between traditional needs, such as shelving for collections, and emerging needs, such as space for collaborative learning.

Later this year, CLIR will publish a series of essays on the role and importance of library as place. Contributors will include librarians, an architect, and scholars. The authors will reflect on the needs and trends that influence library planning today.

CLIR will distribute to our sponsors the publications that emerge from these projects. As always, we encourage comments and suggestions from our sponsors and readers. We are privileged to work with many different communities, and we look forward to another productive year.

Cooperating to Build Collections in the Digital Era

by Abby Smith

Planning for the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP), recently completed by the Library of Congress in association with libraries, government agencies, content creators and distributors, computer scientists and engineers, and legal experts, has provided insight into the types of collaboration that will be needed to ensure long-term access to digital content. The process brought into focus the major challenges to and benefits of working together. For libraries, the lessons are clear: Libraries must collaborate in new ways to ensure that their patrons have access to high-quality, authentic, and reliable resources.

Collaboration has proven difficult with print collections and audiovisual materials because of the constraints imposed by the physical media themselves. Whereas libraries have successfully developed scalable cooperative models for shared resource description—such as cataloging standards that enable the creation of basic catalog records that can be used widely and be customized for local use—large-scale, sustainable collaboration for collection development and preservation has proved elusive.

At first glance, the NDIIPP plan appears to focus on preservation. It proposes extensive collaboration between content creators and preserving institutions as the core of a national infrastructure that will ensure persistence of digital heritage over time. Within this infrastructure, a few trusted third-party repositories would be responsible for preservation. Such repositories would include, but not be limited to, national libraries such as the Library of Congress, the National Library of Medicine, the National Agriculture Library, and national libraries abroad. They are also likely to include certified digital archives that arise within various sectors of the information communities, such as higher education.

Beyond Cooperative Cataloging: Interoperability

Realizing this vision for a preservation infrastructure will require a continued commitment from libraries and other collecting institutions to identify content of high value and to capture or create that content, describe and curate it, and ensure its delivery to users in an enhanced service environment.

The progress that library and archival communities have made in developing common means of describing materials for discovery and retrieval must continue and must extend to non-text formats and to all new genres and formats that emerge in the digital realm. Such progress has been possible because digital librarians and archivists have focused on developing and sharing best practices rather than working through the lengthy process of standards review.

Cooperative digital collection development in a national framework must address the wealth of content created outside the commercial realm of licensed third-party resources. It must focus on content that is born-digital on campuses and on the Web. NDIIPP commissioned surveys on digital preservation policies and priorities among members of the Association of Research Libraries and the Digital Library Federation. Results showed that across the board, libraries place highest priority on capturing, curating, and preserving locally created materials. This must continue to be of highest priority, for if institutions do not take responsibility for homegrown digital collections, no one will. At the same time, these materials cannot become shared or “sharable” resources unless they are described in commonly accepted ways and made interoperable—for example, by creating metadata that are accessible to Open Archives Initiative harvesters. Interoperability is the sine qua non of deep resource sharing and, ultimately, of a sustainable, scalable strategy for preservation.

Beyond Local Collections: Carving Up the Web

The other area of shared collection development that emerged as crucial in the NDIIPP process is agreement on how to collect the abundance of good-quality resources available exclusively through the Web. This is a thorny issue, in part for technical reasons (e.g., the ability of crawlers to access only the publicly accessible Web, which Peter Lyman has estimated to be no more than a scant 0.2 percent of Web resources). Moreover, even focusing on those sites that are available for harvesting is a major challenge. Given the sheer scale of what is available and desirable to collect, redundancy of capture and curation should be reduced. How do libraries begin to carve up the Web for collecting?

Two experiments, both funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, are exploring various aspects of this problem. One group of institutions—the Center for Research Libraries, Cornell and New York Universities, and the University of Texas at Austin—is developing a cooperative program to collect Web sites with political content. Each library focuses on areas that continue traditional institutional collection strengths. In another cooperative effort, the California Digital Library, Stanford University, and the San Diego Supercomputer Center are collecting and storing selected federal and state Web sites in order to start identifying what kinds of government information should be collected by a research library and what tools are needed to make that information most useful.

Crucial questions arise in both projects. For example, what is a Web site, and what are its parameters? What does it cost to capture a site in preservable form? What do librarians need to do to create persistent Web-based collections? How will these sites be shared? What rights issues demand attention in Web harvesting? How do we ensure such sites’ shared use for education? Answering these questions will require considerable experimentation and a willingness to invest resources in discovering the limits of our present systems and policies to cope with Web sites.

Significantly, these are precisely the questions surrounding selection and collection development that were highlighted in the NDIIPP planning process. Participants from all sectors of the information landscape, from commercial content creators to copyright specialists, agreed that libraries—academic libraries in particular—are uniquely positioned to engage these issues. In the national digital preservation infrastructure, libraries will need to agree on the special areas of collecting for which they will take curatorial and preservation responsibilities. Not every library can or must become a digital repository. Preservation responsibility is likely to mean that libraries will place collections in trusted third-party repositories; at the same time, each library will identify, collect, and curate materials and will serve as the central point of reference for collection access.

CLIR looks forward to working with libraries to define the meaningful and sustainable collection development of digital content and to determine how to build a sustainable infrastructure to support digital collections.

Optimism and Caution Voiced at Digital Library Forum

by Jerry George

Participants in the November 2002 Digital Library Federation (DLF) Forum in Seattle found themselves transported between poles of optimism and caution, as one speaker announced a development that will extend the ubiquity of electronic information while another warned against the risks of “information overload.”

At the opening general session of the forum, Bill Hill of Microsoft Research declared that “printed information is out of date.” Electronic distribution is more efficient. It costs less. Digital products can easily be searched, reproduced, and archived in small space. “You don’t have to clear-cut forests to communicate,” he said. Computerized devices are getting smaller, lighter, faster, and cheaper. They are making libraries of digitized books available at any time, anywhere, in any language. And now a solution to one of the remaining obstacles to digital information—the fact that people do not like to read extensive texts on computer monitors—is at hand. Microsoft, he announced, is launching the TabletPC, the first personal computer designed as a reading surface. Optimized serial pattern recognition and clear type technologies, Hill noted, are making it possible to “create a great reading experience on screen.” “Tomorrow, it’s all digital,” he concluded.

Is that an absolute good? Another speaker called on participants to consider the “dark edge” of information technology. David Levy of the University of Washington’s Information School argued that society already is “bogged down in more information than we can deal with.” Information overload, along with the rushing, busyness, and fragmentation of our lives, may be putting life “out of balance.” Because it may reduce our ability to focus on what is most important, this overabundance of information may even be “morally dangerous.” He asked: “What if we begin to think about digital library work from the perspective of the need for silence and sanctuary and balance?” As “a symbol of organization and order,” he said, the library can help maintain the balance our society needs.

Between these alternately exciting and sobering thoughts, the 129 participants in the forum, which the DLF organizes semiannually, heard from many other speakers about the latest in digital library development, including efforts to deal with a widespread concern—the adoption and development by faculty members of electronic courseware and class Web sites that rarely incorporate the digital resources built and licensed at considerable expense by their own campus libraries.

Denise Troll Covey of Carnegie Mellon University reported on studies that document difficulties experienced by users in getting access to library resources from remote sites. The difficulties, she noted, seem “exacerbated by the gap between the way commercial vendors restrict access to library resources and the way users access those resources.” Oya Rieger of Cornell University described efforts to ensure the incorporation of digital library resources and services into virtual learning environments. The discovery that only 12 percent of Web sites studied at Cornell contained any mention of its library led to creation of a Unified Service Working Group through which campus librarians, information technologists, and specialists in media services and continuing education collaborate to provide faculty with a range of course-support services, all conveniently available through “one-stop shopping.” Rieger recommended that librarians “take the library to the students,” recognize the strategic importance of Web sites, partner with academic technologists to develop “integration strategies,” participate when institutions choose systems, and help faculty select resources and develop tools.

Other presenters described progress on numerous projects, including librarians’ efforts to capture and broaden access to digital resources created by teachers and scholars, and even to help them create such resources; testing by several institutions of the use of the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting for building specialized search services that can draw on collection information from multiple libraries; completion of the planning phase of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, led by the Library of Congress; and work with the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS), the Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS), and the Shibboleth authentication-mechanism initiative. More extensive coverage of forum subjects is available through

David Seaman, the DLF’s new director, opened the forum by expressing his desire to improve communication within the DLF, to involve more of the junior staff members of DLF institutions, and to preserve the organization’s ability to meet needs quickly. At the forum’s conclusion, he praised the liveliness of its informal as well as formal discussions and challenged participants “to promote DLF activities within your organizations and share the information and insights the forum has given you.”

Richard Detweiler Joins CLIR as Distinguished Fellow


Richard Detweiler, president of Hartwick College, has been named a CLIR-DLF Distinguished Fellow. During his fellowship, which will extend from January to May 2003, Mr. Detweiler will develop a project entitled Context and Content. The aim of the project is to promote thinking about how the liberal arts educational experience can have greater impact and be more effective, and how it can be sustained and grown in a contemporary context. To this end, he will confer extensively with leading thinkers and organizations in academe, liberal arts education, pedagogy, and technology, and he will write an essay on how technology is changing liberal arts colleges.

Mr. Detweiler asserts that the digital age poses a serious threat to the traditional liberal arts college, a place where personal interaction among scholar-teachers and learner-peers is central to the educational experience. The educator at the liberal arts college believes that learning comes from a context that creates direct intellectual, personal, and social interaction among teachers and learners. This context makes the content of education meaningful and creates the thinking person—the goal of a liberal education.

Can liberal education be re-imagined in ways that maintain or strengthen the context of learning while capitalizing on educational tools such as information technology and community-based learning to provide the content of education? Mr. Detweiler will pursue this question in the coming months. CLIR, interested in the connection between a liberal arts education and the resources necessary to support it, expects to publish Mr. Detweiler’s essay in late summer or fall 2003.

DAI Institute to Focus on New Visions for Access

CLIR and the University of California will present the second Documentation Abstracts, Inc. (DAI) Institute for Information Science April 21-22 in San Francisco.

This year’s Institute will focus on visions of the library that emphasize deep resource sharing, collaboration, and the effective and innovative uses of technologies. Speakers from the United States, Denmark, and Australia will discuss emerging roles for the library as a civic institution, the challenges of serving multicultural communities in the United States and abroad, and new models for stewardship.

A full agenda and registration information will be available on CLIR’s Web site,, in early February.

Forthcoming Publications

Copyright Issues Relevant to the Creation of a Digital Archive: A Preliminary Assessment, by June M. Besek, Columbia Law School. This report describes copyright rights and exceptions, and highlights issues that may arise in creating a nonprofit digital archive. (January)

Biblored: Colombia’s Innovative Library Network, by Maria Cristina Caballero, Harvard University. Colombia’s Biblored was honored with the 2002 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Access to Learning Award, which CLIR administers. This case study outlines how Biblored was created, funded, designed, and implemented. (February)

Preserving New Forms of Digital Scholarship, by Abby Smith, CLIR. This report describes the scope of problems that arise in preserving Web-based scholarly resources. It focuses on born-digital primary sources that faculty and graduate students are creating that are not “published” but are worthy of persistent access into the future. (February)

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

Deanna B. Marcum

Susan Perry
Director of Programs

David Seaman
Director, Digital Library Federation

Abby Smith
Director of Programs

Kathlin Smith
Editor and Director of Communications

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