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Report Examines Challenges of “New-Model Scholarship”

CLIR Press Release:



For Immediate Release: April 25, 2003

Contact: Abby Smith 202-939-4758

Report Examines Challenges of “New-Model Scholarship”

WASHINGTON, D.C.—A new report from the Council on Library and Information Resources examines the challenges of ensuring long-term access to a growing class of digital scholarship that can best be described as complex, experimental, dynamic, software-intensive, and multimedia.

The report, entitled New-Model Scholarship: How Will It Survive?, focuses on new forms of scholarship that fall somewhere short of “published” but are worthy of access in the future. These include the variety of Web sites and other desktop digital objects that are being created on campus.

Libraries and special collecting institutions must determine what of this new scholarship has long-term value for teaching and research. They must define the parameters of objects that are open-ended and changing, decide what must be done to make a complex digital object ready to place in a repository, and determine how to support digital preservation over time. Librarians must work closely with creators to identify attributes of the resources that warrant preserving.

The report’s author, Abby Smith, director of programs at CLIR, notes that several models of stewardship are emerging. She divides them roughly into two organizational types: enterprise-based models, which take some responsibility for keeping information resources created by an institution or a discipline that are used by a specific community; and community-based models, which offer third-party preservation services to digital creators.

The author urges funders that support building digital resources to require the deposit of data into trustworthy digital archives. In addition, universities and other research institutions that support the creation of digital scholarship and are its primary consumers must think seriously about what is at stake. “To continue investing heavily in creating digital information assets without shoring up their long-term accessibility is like building castles on sand,” Smith notes. In this, librarians, archivists, and digital scholars have an important role to play, concludes the author, for they “are well positioned to raise awareness of this impending crisis of information loss and to articulate the new roles and responsibilities to be assumed by each member of the research community that has an interest in the future of scholarship.”

New-Model Scholarship: How Will It Survive? is available on CLIR’s Web site at Print copies can be ordered through the Web site.

The Council on Library and Information Resources is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the management of information for research, teaching, and learning. CLIR works to expand access to information, however recorded and preserved, as a public good.

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