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CLIR Issues Number 49

CLIR Issues

Number 49 • January/February 2006


A Forum for the Future Student by Amy Harbur

DLF Seeks Comments on Metadata Object Description Schema by Katherine Kott

Ann Okerson Joins CLIR

Charles Henry Joins CLIR Board

CLIR Forms Advisory Committee for Scholarly Communication

Old Recordings at Risk: What Can Libraries Do?

Apply Now for Postdoctoral Fellowship in Scholarly Information Resources

A Forum for the Future Student

by Amy Harbur

Editor’s note: in 2004, Patricia Wand, university librarian at American University (AU), invited CLIR to cosponsor and shape a symposium that would start the process of rethinking the delivery of library and information support on the AU campus. The event, “Symposium 2010,” was held March 14-15, 2005. American University has just issued a final report on the symposium, titled The Academic Library in 2010: A Vision, available at In the following article, former CLIR staff member and symposium attendee Amy Harbur captures highlights of the event.

HOW WILL UNIVERSITY students prefer to learn in 2010, and what will the library of 2010 need to be to meet students’ learning requirements? These questions were the springboard for discussions at American University Library’s “Symposium 2010.” Hosted by Patricia Wand, university librarian at American University, and cosponsored by CLIR, the meeting brought together 14 experts from the fields of higher education, publishing, and information technology.

A panel of five student video gamers opened the symposium with presentations revealing their experiences with and thoughts on video gaming and its impact on their own learning styles. The presentations provided insight into the mindset of the “Net generation” students currently entering our universities. When these students arrive on campus, the presentations revealed, they are already comfortable working in a structured, interactive, digital environment. Video games such as SimCity, which combine a basic story line and a set of rules with the freedom to build an almost-infinite number of variations, have had a strong effect on learning styles. Today’s students are engaged, not passive, learners. Lisa Pickoff-White, a student at AU, observed, “I think most people learn more . . . when involved in doing something or teaching someone else.” She described a history class in which the students were able to visit a museum with a virtual comprehensive model of Rome. “Learning older architecture, where I was able to see where everything was, helped me understand the politics of the era,” she explained.

Today’s students are seeking to learn visually as well as through traditional text-and-lecture models. Joan Lippincott, associate executive director for the Coalition for Networked Information, suggested, “There’s a difference between formal learning in classrooms and informal learning, which can take place anywhere on campus. . . . Many students are satisfied with lectures from talented professors, but outside the classroom they look for something different. One role the library can fulfill is to serve as a venue for informal learning.” Wand concurred, saying, “The library needs to be integral both formally and informally, but it can be particularly powerful in the informal mode. We know [that] people, depending on their discipline, do research in a laboratory, on a street corner, or within the social environment of a game. The library needs to be involved in creating the kind of access that allows access to information in any of those environments.”

Faculty members have their own ideas about the roles that university libraries should play. Said Naomi Baron, professor of language and foreign studies at American University, “A little more than a century ago, every college had a course all seniors took on moral philosophy taught by the president. It was a way of bringing closure and integration. The thing most missing from most universities today is that sense of coherence.” Can the library, she asked, serve “socially, [as an] intellectual coherence-generating mechanism . . . an intellectual ombudsman?” Baron made a thought-provoking suggestion: Why not invite faculty members who are respected by their peers to work in the library part-time? They could use their experiences in these positions to reach out to their colleagues with a deeper knowledge of what the library has to offer, she noted.

The group discussed the need to market the library—to students, faculty, administrators, and donors. Participants suggested showcasing premier digital projects, such as the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts, or the e-journals offered by a library through its Web site, on screens in the entryways and throughout the library building. Wand noted that American University had considered purchasing plasma television screens for this purpose, but is now looking into even more-extensive visual-messaging systems.

And what of service? Scott Bennett, university librarian emeritus of Yale University, contended, “The problem with the ways we’ve designed libraries to date is that we’ve designed them around self-referential ideas of service.” He asked participants to consider the classic reference desk: “It’s really a picture of a castle on a hill,” he said. “It’s a picture of the way in which a profession asserts authority and control over a territory.” John Richardson, director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at American University, suggested that a library should seek to be not a castle but a commons—a place in the university where learners can be creators of knowledge and not merely passive recipients.

The university library, all agreed, will continue to be an integral part of the university community. Indeed, it is perhaps the integral part. Said Bennett, “I think the library is the only place where the university is the UNIversity, as opposed to the MULTIversity. [In a] multiversity . . . everyone’s off doing their thing, and that’s great, and it should happen, but the library should be the university. It is the source of knowledge, where you have one university.”

Postscript from Nancy Davenport: Recent events in Pat’s life have put this project “on pause.” She is leaving AU to be the dean of libraries at Zayed University in Dubai. Zayed University was founded in 1998 by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, president of United Arab Emirates. It offers Western-style education, professional training, and academic degrees to Emirate women. We wish Pat the very best in her new position.

DLF Seeks Comments on Metadata Object Description Schema

by Katherine Kott

THE DIGITAL LIBRARY Federation (DLF), through the DLF Aquifer initiative, has developed guidelines for implementing MODS (metadata object description schema) for cultural heritage- and humanities-based scholarly resources. MODS is a descriptive metadata format designed to support the location, identification, and use of resources. Although based on MARC, MODS is encoded in xml and is therefore more readily usable in a Web environment. It is also simpler than MARC and richer than other metadata formats commonly used for digital resources, such as Dublin Core. This richness enables more-robust end user service development for improved access, sorting, and browsing across collections.

The DLF MODS Guidelines for Cultural Heritage Materials are available at ImpGuidelines_ver4.pdf. Comments on the guidelines are encouraged and should be submitted to DLF-MODS-GUIDELINES-COMMENTS-L@LISTSERV.INDIANA.EDU through January 20, 2006.

The DLF Aquifer Metadata Working Group, which developed the MODS guidelines, was charged with recommending metadata policies and best practices to the Aquifer Implementation Group, which sets policy for the DLF Aquifer Initiative. Sarah Shreeves of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, led the working group. Other members were John Chapman, University of Minnesota; Bill Landis, California Digital Library; Elizabeth Milewicz, Emory University; David Reynolds, Johns Hopkins University; Jenn Riley, Indiana University; and Gary Shawver, New York University.

In support of the DLF Aquifer’s primary goal to aggregate high-quality digital content from a variety of sources in a variety of formats, the Metadata Working Group built its recommendations on the DLF/NSDL (National Science Digital Library) OAI Best Practices for Sharable Metadata ( These best practices provided the theoretical framework for the Metadata Working Group’s proposal.

The DLF Aquifer initiative will put the DLF MODS Guidelines for Cultural Heritage Materials to a practical test as DLF member libraries expose metadata compliant with the guidelines. Several levels of compliance are likely to be defined as DLF Aquifer metadata harvesting is implemented. More-stringent levels of conformance will enable more-robust service development. For example, the guidelines require the use of at least one date element and recommend certain date elements “intended to record different events important in the life of a resource.” A data provider’s ability to meet the specific recommendations for date formatting will influence the level at which the temporal context for a given collection can be made when the collection’s metadata are combined with metadata from other collections.

University of Michigan Digital Library Production Service is hosting metadata harvesting for DLF Aquifer. DLF Aquifer participants will demonstrate results of metadata harvesting using the DLF MODS Guidelines for Cultural Heritage Materials at the DLF Spring Forum in Austin, Texas, April 10–12, 2006.

Libraries and cultural heritage organizations that are creating digital collections will find helpful advice in the DLF MODS Guidelines for Cultural Heritage Materials. For those digital collections that were created before clear guidelines and best practices were available, DLF Aquifer plans to develop metadata-remediation-and-enhancement capabilities.

Ann Okerson Joins CLIR

Okerson photoYALE UNIVERSITY ASSOCIATE Librarian Ann Okerson has joined CLIR’s Washington office as program director. The appointment began in January and will extend through mid-April 2006. She will work with CLIR’s newly formed scholarly communication advisory committee to develop a program agenda in that area. She will work in a similar way with CLIR’s advisory committee for preservation and stewardship, which is now being formed.

Ms. Okerson has extensive experience in academic libraries and library management as well as in the commercial sector. She served as a senior program officer at the Association of Research Libraries, where she was director of the Office of Scientific and Academic Publishing. Upon arriving at Yale in 1996, she organized the Northeast Research Libraries (NERL) consortium. In 1997, she and the Yale Library staff mounted the LIBLICENSE project, which developed an online educational resource about library licensing of electronic content.

Charles Henry Joins CLIR Board

Henry photo AT ITS NOVEMBER 2005 meeting, the CLIR Board elected Charles Henry, vice provost and university librarian at Rice University, its newest member. Mr. Henry will serve as the Digital Library Federation (DLF) representative to CLIR’s Board.

When DLF incorporated in May 2005, it established a Board of Trustees, comprising a representative from each DLF member institution. To ensure continued coordination between DLF and CLIR, it was agreed that DLF would appoint a Trustee to serve on CLIR’s Board, and CLIR’s president would serve as a DLF Trustee and ex officio on the Trustee Executive Committee.

At Rice, Mr. Henry is responsible for the administration, strategy, policy making, and fundraising for the libraries, the Digital Library Initiative, and Electronic Resource Center. He is also an adjunct professor in the School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science.

CLIR Forms Advisory Committee for Scholarly Communication

CLIR HAS FORMED an advisory committee for scholarly communication—the first of four committees that are being established to guide CLIR’s work in its main agenda areas: place as library, scholarly communication, preservation and stewardship, and leadership.

The scholarly communication advisory committee will be coordinated by Ann Okerson, associate university librarian at Yale University.

The group will hold its first meeting January 11 to begin formulating a research agenda that builds on CLIR’s work to date in scholarly communication. Members of the scholarly communication advisory committee members are as follows:

Martha Brogan, independent consultant and author, A Kaleidoscope of Digital American Literature
Laura DeBonis, director for print library partnerships, Google
Ray English, director of libraries, Oberlin College
Laura N. Gasaway, director of the Law Library and professor of law, University of North Carolina
Georgia Harper, section manager, intellectual property, Office of the General Counsel, University of Texas
Charles Henry, vice provost and university librarian, Rice University
Steve Nichols, James M. Beall Professor of French and Humanities, and chair, Department of Romance Languages, Johns Hopkins University
Roger Schonfeld, coordinator of research, Ithaka
Katherine Skinner, scholarly communications analyst, Emory University
Will Thomas, John and Catherine Angle Professor in the Humanities, University of Nebraska
Gordon Tibbitts, president, Blackwell Publishing
Diane Walker, deputy university librarian for user services, University of Virginia
Gene Wiemers, vice president for information and library services and librarian, Bates College

Old Recordings at Risk: What Can Libraries Do?

A NEW REPORT from CLIR and the Library of Congress addresses what libraries and archives are legally empowered to do to preserve and make accessible for research their holdings of pre-1972 commercial recordings, the large aural legacy that is not protected by federal copyright. The report, Copyright Issues Relevant to Digital Preservation and Dissemination of Pre-1972 Commercial Sound Recordings by Libraries and Archives, was written by June Besek, executive director of the Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts at Columbia Law School. It is available at

Apply Now for Postdoctoral Fellowship in Scholarly Information Resources

CLIR IS NOW accepting applications for Postdoctoral Fellowships in Scholarly Information Resources 2006. Now in its third year, the program offers fellowships to individuals who have earned their Ph.D. degrees in disciplines in the humanities within the past five years (or who will earn them before starting the program) and who believe that there are opportunities to develop meaningful linkages between disciplinary scholarship, libraries, archives, and evolving digital tools.

For information and application forms, visit Applications and all accompanying materials must be postmarked by February 24, 2006.

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