Number 45 • May/June 2005
Preparing for Universal Access by Kathlin Smith
DLF Aquifer: Tapping New Sources for Scholarship by Katherine Kott
Building Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities by Abby Smith
LIBRARIES, PUBLISHERS, AND scholars stand to benefit greatly from the massive digitizing project announced by Google last fall, but the scale of the project foregrounds persistent issues in the digital library environment, from copyright, to resource discovery, to training of information professionals. Seven panelists addressed the implications of the growing body of online content for libraries, publishing, and research at CLIR’s sixth annual Sponsors’ Symposium, “Transforming Libraries,” held April 18 in Washington, D.C.
“The Google announcement was much like a Rorschach test for the library community,” observed CLIR Program Director Abby Smith as she introduced the day’s first panel. From the symposium’s presentations and discussions emerged several visions about the identity and future not only of the library community but also of universities, publishers, and scholarly communication.
Michigan’s Partnership with Google
What drove the University of Michigan’s decision to let Google digitize 7.8 million volumes in its collection? Provost Paul Courant spoke first to the university’s mission. “Our purpose is to extend the realm of ideas in the broad service of society,” he said.
But running a university, and sustaining excellence, has become more expensive. Meanwhile, new technologies have changed how we conduct scholarship. “The coming generation won’t read what’s not online,” he noted. The agreement with Google will provide the university an electronic copy of each volume digitized.
The project deals head-on with the grand challenge to digital access—copyright—by including many works not in the public domain. “The questions [about digitizing copyrighted material] have changed from whether to when, and from how to what effect,” Courant said. This is an important development. “The current IP [intellectual property] framework is inimical to scholarship. Many people have become more concerned with protecting IP than conveying what they know. Access will drive progress on IP and the orphaned-work problem. We must create general demand to make change,” he emphasized.
Despite the rich collections that will become available online, Courant does not see a diminishing role for libraries or librarians. The distinction between information and knowledge becomes more important in this environment, he said. “Librarians will become, at all scales, more like editors and teachers, guiding people through enormous collections, helping them turn information into meaning.”
New Opportunities for Publishers and Libraries
“In the future, information will all be available in digital form—it will not cost too much, will be used by more people, and will be enriched through better display, context, and integration,” said Stephen Rhind-Tutt, chief executive officer of Alexander Street Press. The Google deal, he said, promises to deliver to end users 30 times the content currently delivered by EEBO [Early English Books Online], ECO [Eighteenth Century Online], Evans, Shaw-Shoemaker, and similar initiatives, and it will do so at no charge. The question is not whether “a colossal amount of information will become available . . . but how we are going to react.”
The promise of vast new digital content presents “enormous opportunities for librarians and publishers” to revive traditional library and editorial values in the areas of commissioning, editing, selecting, and ensuring quality, Rhind-Tutt asserted. It also offers opportunities for developing tools that help users make the most of what is available on the Web, enabling them to find answers to previously unanswerable questions.
An example of such a tool is semantic indexing, which identifies concepts and organizes them by semantic entity to enable far more powerful searches than those based on keyword. Alexander Street Press has used this principle in developing North American Theatre Online, a collection of reference works indexed by such concepts as author, theater, and production company. Using this resource, for example, a scholar could obtain extensive information in response to a request for “all scenes performed in South Africa discussing AIDS from 1980 to 1990.”
Linking is another means by which publishers and libraries can add value. Rhind-Tutt cited the example of Alexander Street Press’s Oral History Online, an index of oral history materials freely available on the Web. Open linkages are growing in popularity, and if the public is to derive full benefit from the Web, they are essential. Nonetheless, Rhind-Tutt fears that some sites may not use permanent URLs so that their content is unavailable to other vendors. Will Yahoo be able to index Google’s materials? “The public won’t get the potential value if one railroad can’t use another’s tracks,” he cautioned.
Rhind-Tutt believes that libraries and publishers will look increasingly similar as their roles converge in the digital environment and as specific disciplines require interfaces tailored to the needs of their respective communities. “Publishing, technology, and librarianship will combine to be a new form of publishing,” he concluded.
Meeting Traditional Demands in a New Environment
What challenges do provosts see in meeting the demands of faculty and students in the digital information environment? Two provosts—one from a research university and the other from a liberal arts college—shared their perspectives.
Meeting the growing demand for digital content—in particular, data sets and serials—is expensive and has caused budgets for information resources to increase more rapidly than overall university budgets have, said David Shulenburger, provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of Kansas. This situation, he said, is unsustainable.
Meanwhile, storing digital scholarship that faculty produce will require that institutions invest in digital repositories (a cost that can be reduced by collaborating with other institutions). Such archives may include work never intended for publication or early drafts of published work. Shulenburger predicts that authors will increasingly cite from the archived source, rather than the primary source, because archived material is free and easily available. Thus, published work will cite more material that has less-than-full authority behind it.
“To alter the forces that lead to this vision of the future, we must accept two notions—first, that scholarship is a public good; second, that refereeing must be preserved,” Shulenburger said.
Shulenburger suggested how funding agencies could help mitigate the problem. They should specify that exclusive copyright be given to scholarly journals for six months after publication. Scholarly journal publishers must then deposit the article as published into the funder’s publicly accessible archive. Among the benefits of implementing this model are that journals and refereeing would survive, journal price increases would be mitigated, universities could focus on repositories of unpublished material, truly public archives would emerge, and libraries would remain essential parts of the scholarly communication process.
The Special Demands at Liberal Arts Colleges
The needs of faculty and students in a liberal arts college differ from those of faculty and students in research libraries, said Susanne Woods, provost and professor of English at Wheaton College. “Although research takes place at liberal arts institutions, . . . the primary mission of our college is undergraduate teaching.” She noted three ways in which Wheaton College views information resource policy differently than would a research library.
First, liberal arts colleges must emphasize resources for teaching and student research; supporting faculty research is secondary.
Second, liberal arts colleges alone can’t afford to license some of the most valuable digital resources, so they develop local consortia and regional collaborations. Standardization is important, too. “We can neither afford, nor would we want to have, homegrown, idiosyncratic materials.”
Finally, teaching and learning through personal interaction is a hallmark of the liberal arts college. “We may therefore look at electronic resources differently than larger institutions with a student body more heterogeneous in terms of age or educational background.” She added, “For us, the advantage of a courseware system such as Blackboard or Web CT is not that it helps us teach more and various students at an acceptable level, but that it helps us teach a relatively few students at a higher level of intensity.”
Liberal arts colleges’ smaller size and their emphasis on personal contact make them “especially nimble in exploring the effectiveness of new technologies, such as GIS [geographic information systems], TEI [text-encoding initiative], or the Google library, for teaching and learning.”
Meeting the Demand for Library Leaders
What leadership will be needed to navigate libraries through the new challenges? A national study funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and directed by José-Marie Griffiths, dean of the School of Library and Information Sciences at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, will provide some answers to this question.
Griffiths described this effort, called the National Study on the Future of Librarians in the Workforce, noting that it will characterize the current workforce, positions available, skills needed, and the capacity of schools of information to meet the demand. The study will also develop approaches for updating education, provide new information about other information professionals doing similar functions, explore the importance of libraries in the future, and make recommendations for ongoing data collection and workforce monitoring. The study comprises 10 separate surveys, the first of which will be undertaken later this year. (More information about the survey is available at http://www.libraryworkforce.org/tiki-index.php.)
Elliott Shore, chief information officer at Bryn Mawr College, described CLIR’s Postdoctoral Fellowship in Scholarly Information Resources, an initiative to bring new expertise and perspective into the library. Shore is principal faculty for the program, which awards one- to two-year fellowships to recent Ph.D.s to work in academic libraries. The program awarded 11 fellowships in 2004, its first year. Three of these fellows have decided to pursue MLS degrees as a result of their experiences.
Shore shared the podium with Megan Norcia, a CLIR postdoctoral fellow at Lehigh University, who discussed what she and other fellows had gained from the program. “The experience was eye-opening as to how universities and budgets operate,” she said. She added that serving as a scholar-librarian, or “hybrarian,” has been especially rewarding. She has worked on digital projects, information-literacy initiatives, and techno-pedagogy workshops. A highlight has been working with faculty and students to increase use of the Lehigh University Special Collections and to make them more interactive.
The symposium concluded with small-group discussions about what is needed to provide content and access services in the digital environment. Full versions of speakers’ text and PowerPoint presentations are available at https://www.clir.org/activities/registration/apr05spon_symp.html.
WHAT WILL ALLOW libraries to meet users’ growing demand for digital content from the libraries’ own collections and beyond? What will enable libraries to provide tools and services to help scholars tap digital content in ways that support teaching, learning, and research? DLF Aquifer will do both. Enabling vast pools of distributed digital content to be used as a single resource, DLF Aquifer will also provide the means for libraries to channel the content in helpful ways.
The Digital Library Federation (DLF) founding charter, written in 1995, expressed the following vision: “The implementation of a distributed, open digital library . . . to bring together—from across the nation and beyond—digitized materials that will be made accessible to students, scholars, and citizens everywhere, and that document the building and dynamics of America’s heritage and cultures.” Charter members of the DLF imagined that a federation could accomplish much more than any single library could. These visionary librarians predicted that by leveraging their own resources through collaboration, their organizations would be able to offer scholars a wider range of services and collections than had been possible to date.
With this vision in mind, the Digital Library Federation initiated, sponsored, and participated in a variety of activities and thereby laid the foundation for a distributed, open digital library (DODL). Among these efforts are the Open Archives Initiative for metadata harvesting, the DLF Scholars’ Panel for advice on scholars’ needs, and the OCKHAM initiative for the development of technical and architectural models. In addition, the DLF holds a semiannual forum that has become an important conference for digital library developers.
The idea of a distributed, open digital library reemerged at the DLF Fall Forum in 2003. By the time that the 2004 DLF Spring Forum was convened, the temporary acronym DODL had been replaced by the new name, “Aquifer.” In recent months, DLF has been prepended to Aquifer to make the link to DLF clear and to distinguish this initiative from several commercial products whose name also includes the word aquifer. Catalogers, rejoice. Here you have the complete naming history for name-authority purposes!
DLF Aquifer will enable a variety of digital library components to interoperate smoothly by
- providing access, in context, to objects in repositories that preserve;
- knowing about the data in a variety of content-management and e-learning systems;
- interacting with repositories and personal content-management systems that store modified digital objects; and
- making sense of the output from mass-digitization projects such as Google’s recently announced partnership with libraries.
A testbed suite of tools and services, the DLF Aquifer will be contained within a flexible framework that can be integrated easily into a variety of library environments.
Twelve DLF member libraries are now participating in DLF Aquifer. These libraries have agreed to make in-kind contributions, such as hosting services, contributing significant staff resources, or both, to the project. The original “DODL 11″—California Digital Library, Emory University, Indiana University, Johns Hopkins University, Library of Congress, New York University, Stanford University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, and University of Virginia—was joined in March 2005 by the University of Tennessee to form the “DLF Aquifer dozen.” Library directors, as well as technical and administrative staff from these participating libraries, formed the Aquifer Prototype Group, which was responsible for moving the initiative forward.
In fall 2004, directors of the participant libraries decided to hire a director. Katherine Kott was appointed to that position in January 2005. Her first objectives were to bring the goals of the initiative into sharper focus, to create a draft business plan, and to propose an organizational transition with new processes designed to move the initiative along more quickly.
As the initiative moved closer to implementation, the Aquifer Prototype Group began to grow unwieldy. In February 2005, the group met for the last time. During that final session, members discussed and developed a draft business plan. That plan, which has now been completed, includes a new organizational structure designed to be nimbler and to better support the processes needed to implement DLF Aquifer.
The new structure consists of four working groups that will draft policies and plan projects over the next several months. With representation and leadership from participant libraries, each working group has a distinct focus: collections, metadata, technology, or services. Working group chairs also serve on the DLF Aquifer Implementation Group, the policy body for the initiative. The Aquifer director leads the DLF Aquifer Implementation Group, whose membership also includes three at-large members from participant libraries. The DLF executive director, as an ex officio member, completes the group and provides an important link to the DLF.
Building on the DLF initiatives just mentioned as well as on related projects such as the Institute of Museum and Library Services Digital Collections Registry, DLF Aquifer is entering the first of three implementation phases. In phase one, DLF Aquifer will expose existing digital collections through currently available tools and services. Phase two will focus on enhancing services by adding such functions as metadata enhancement, result-set visualization, and systems-interoperability support. In phase three, DLF Aquifer will enable “deep sharing,” or the ability to capture digital objects from other systems such as repositories, modify the objects, and redeposit them in e-learning spaces or personal collections, for example.
Thanks to the pioneering efforts of the Digital Library Federation, DLF Aquifer is ready to be filled with quality digital content and to begin piping that content through tools and services so that libraries may provide these rich collections, in context, to scholars.
Director of Libraries
Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County
Assistant Director for Special Collections, and Rare Book and Special Collections Division Chief
Library of Congress
Wendy Pradt Lougee
University of Minnesota
Central and Regional Library of Berlin
James M. Beall Professor of French and Humanities and Chair, Department of Romance Languages
The Johns Hopkins University
S. Georgia Nugent
President, Kenyon College
Deanna B. Marcum retired from the Board after serving CLIR as its former president and, since her appointment to the Library of Congress in 2003, as a Board member. The staff is indebted to her for her years of leadership and vision.
ALISON RAAB, WHO is enrolled in the master’s degree program at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been awarded the 2005 Rovelstad Scholarship. Raab holds an M.A. in Japanese history from the University of California, Davis, and lived and worked in Japan for six years. She also was a junior fellow for the Library of Congress in its Veterans’ History Project.
The scholarship provides travel funds for a student of library and information science to attend the annual meeting of the World Library and Information Congress. This year’s meeting will take place in Oslo, Norway, in August.
RICHARD SWART HAS been named the recipient of the 2005 A. R. Zipf Fellowship in Information Management. A Ph.D. student in business information systems and education at Utah State University (USU), Swart’s research areas include semantic integration, management and security of widely distributed and Web-services-enabled data stores, and handling threats from those seeking to disrupt or intercept information.
“The pressure to integrate applications across platforms is making data more accessible, while simultaneously exposing organizations to greater risks from insider sabotage, malicious attacks, and previously undiscovered vulnerabilities in applications,” says Swart. “Senior managers must adopt a proactive approach to security planning. The intelligent and secure management of information is key to our intellectual heritage and national security; information managers must be prepared to protect these vital resources.”
Swart holds a master’s degree in business information systems from USU. Currently, he is special assistant to the dean in the College of Business at Utah State University.
Named in honor of A. R. Zipf, a pioneer in information management systems, the $10,000 fellowship is awarded annually to a student who is enrolled in graduate school, in the early stages of study, and shows exceptional promise for leadership and technical achievement in information management. For more information and a list of previous recipients, visit https://www.clir.org/fellowships/zipf/zipf.html.
DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES HAVE changed profoundly the ways in which scholars in the humanities and social sciences do research, teach, and contribute to the growth of knowledge. Lexicographers use searching software to query the Making of America database to find early instances of words and to rewrite the history of American usage. High school teachers assign homework about the Depression and provide links to the Library of Congress’s American Memory site’s Farm Security Administration photo archives. These archives offer visual evidence of the effect of economic trauma on rural and urban citizens that students can incorporate into their essays.
The broader public, too, has benefited from information technologies and tools that make it easier to experience and interact with the accumulated riches of human creativity and actions. For example, visitors to a museum may select audio commentary from handheld devices as they walk through exhibit galleries of Bauhaus artists. These visitors may then go to a bank of computers that holds rich databases of these artists’ other works as well as virtual recreations of unbuilt architectural projects by Bauhaus studio students.
What New Potential?
E-mail, word processing, social and professional digital networks, online catalogs and search engines, iPods, wireless connectivity, and blogs offer new ways of learning about and interacting with our world and the people in it. What further potential do information technologies hold to widen access to and enable interaction with the world’s cultural heritage, and how can we imagine and build an infrastructure that will support that potential? Over the past year, the American Council of Learned Societies’ Commission on the Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences has been seeking answers to these questions.
The commission, comprising nine prominent individuals in higher education, held six public information-gathering sessions designed to tap into the experience and expertise of various communities with a stake in these domains. Leaders from the library and museum communities participated actively in each session. (Full documentation of these events may be found at http://www.acls.org./cyberinfrastructure/cyber_public_sessions.htm.)
Challenges Not Primarily Technological
The commission defines infrastructure as the people, policies, tools, technologies, and resources that provide access to the human record and that allow people to build on and contribute to that record. Cyberinfrastructure is a new iteration of these core elements, one that is both technology enabled and technology dependent.
Digital information technologies have become ubiquitous in both the public and the academic humanities. The commission’s chief finding is that we have now come to an inflection point at which technology has the potential to transform how we conduct research. More specifically, it allows us to ask new questions of old materials.
What factors hinder this transformation? The commission found that they are economic, legal, and organizational, rather than technological. They include
- policies (such as copyright and data-privacy laws) that inhibit or restrict access to key resources, both for research and for publication;
- lack of appropriate skills among scholars, teachers, students, and professionals in libraries, archives, and museums; and
- insufficient investments in infrastructure.
The commission is developing a suite of recommendations, aimed at key stakeholders in the humanities and social sciences, that will suggest strategies for overcoming these three barriers.
Educational and Cultural Organizations at the Heart of Infrastructure
As a key part of the existing infrastructure, libraries, archives, and museums are of special concern for the commission. Professionals in these organizations are frequently identified as leaders in using technology to increase access to information and cultural resources as well as to raise awareness of the policy issues that arise in the digital environment. Indeed, policy has become a key focus of the commission’s report. While the commission assumes that the humanities and social science domains are not the primary creators of technology, it acknowledges that they do play a crucial role in the “enabling infrastructure”—the policies, financial resources, and organizations that can facilitate access to and use of the many resources that make digital scholarship and learning possible. The higher education community, together with the creative and cultural sectors, are at the heart of infrastructure, both as consumers and creators.
Partnerships with the Private Sector
The announcement by five research libraries that they are partnering with Google to digitize significant portions of their book holdings underscores the potential for the humanities domains to extend far beyond higher education and to become more deeply embedded in creative and technology industries, among others. Partnerships between humanists and the private sector, both content creators and technology firms, are crucial for enabling information technologies to create, manage, and deliver ever-more-complex multimedia resources over the Web. We must work with commercial partners to ensure long-term access to creative works and to the products of cultural activities. Google’s announcement also reminds us that it takes a scale of capitalization not commonly found in the academy and in nonprofit organizations to achieve some of the fundamental goals that librarians, scholars, and the public have expressed, such as bringing vast quantities of new content to the desktop.
Need for Leadership, Investment
The commission’s recommendations will be directed to the major stakeholders in the humanities—higher education, commerce, and federal and private funders—and will focus on the leadership needed to effect transformation in each sector. Special areas of investment are needed not only to facilitate access to the cumulative record of culture through digital conversion but also to develop and support standards, create new models of stewardship for digital data, develop information policies that widen access to culture for educational purposes, teach digital literacy at all levels of education, and build technical skills in students and teachers alike.
The commission’s draft report, which will be circulated for public comment prior to publication, will frame the discussion on how the infrastructure should develop, who should benefit from that development, and who should provide leadership in these developments. It is scheduled for release this fall.
PROGRAM DIRECTOR Abby Smith will leave the CLIR staff on July 1, 2005, to pursue work as an independent consultant. Ms. Smith, who joined CLIR in 1997, has been a driving force in initiatives relating to preservation, resources for scholarship, and digital libraries. Her achievements include convening the Task Force on the Role of the Artifact and serving as coauthor and general editor of its report, directing CLIR’s second Scholarly Communication Institute, and managing key aspects of work for the Library of Congress’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). Ms. Smith has written many reports and articles and has presented widely in the United States and abroad.
Ms. Smith will continue to work in the areas of information technology, cultural heritage, and higher education. She will retain her role as senior editor of the American Council on Learned Societies’ Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for Humanities and Social Sciences and will continue work with NDIIPP as a consultant to CLIR.
We thank Ms. Smith for her many contributions to CLIR and to the library community, and we wish her every success in her new undertakings.
The fellowships are intended to help graduate students in the humanities and related social science fields pursue research wherever relevant sources are available; gain skill and creativity in using primary source material in libraries, archives, museums, and related repositories; and provide suggestions to CLIR about how such source materials can be made more accessible and useful.
The fellowships carry stipends of up to $20,000 each to support dissertation research for periods of up to 12 months.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dissertation Title: “Composing for the Red Screen: Sergei Prokofiev’s Film Scores”
Dissertation Title: “An Imperial Investment: British Child Emigration to Australia and Southern Rhodesia, 1900-1967”
Dissertation Title: “Of Moors and Men: The Construction of Masculinities on the Spanish-Moroccan Frontier, Ceuta 1640-1799”
Zeynep Celik bei Opitz
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dissertation Title: “Kinaesthetic Impulses: Space, Performance, and the Body in German Architecture, 1870-1918”
Art History/Architectural History
Dissertation Title: “Imaging Power: Royal Ideology for the Rise of Macedon”
Carolina Giraldo Botero
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Dissertation Title: “Excess in Baroque Lima and Santa Fe de Bogota: A History of Crime, Ecstasy, and Disease in the New World”
University of California, Berkeley
Dissertation Title: “Sculpture’s Frame: On the Photography of David Smith, 1931-1965”
Laura Anne Kalba
University of Southern California
Dissertation Title: “The Abstract in Everyday Life: The Production, Diffusion, and Reception of Color in Nineteenth Century Paris”
Dissertation Title: “Migration, Commemoration, and Sibe Identity”
Dissertation Title: “Architecture, Archaeology and Urbanism in ‘La Grande Roma’: The Via dell’Impero and the Palazzo del Littorio Competition”
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dissertation Title: “United in Divisions: National Identity in Bourbon Restoration France (1814-1830)”
Dassia N. Posner
Dissertation Title: “The Fantastical and the Grotesque: Hoffmanniana in Russian Silver-Age Theatre, 1905-1925”
Dissertation Title: “Toward an Archaeology of Apartheid: the Origins of Segregation in the Diamond Fields of Kimberley, South Africa”
Dissertation Title: “Remembering the Forgotten War: Orphans and Brides of the Korean War”