Number 51 • May/June 2006
Symposium Kicks Off Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration by Kathlin Smith
Libraries: Diffuse and In the Flow by Wendy Pradt Lougee
Symposium Kicks Off Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration
by Kathlin Smith
PRESERVATION, ACCESS, AND technology’s impact on scholarship were in the spotlight on April 7 at CLIR’s Fiftieth Anniversary Sponsors’ symposium. “Today, just as in 1956, libraries are operating in an environment of exploding information resources and technological change,” observed CLIR President Nancy Davenport, who moderated the event. The challenges and opportunities that libraries and scholars face in this environment were illustrated in three sessions focusing on the condition of our cultural heritage materials, proposed changes to legislation on the use of orphan works and discussions of fair use, and a demonstration of how new technologies are enabling scholars to use historical records in new ways.
Symposium attendees also had the occasion to meet three former presidents of CLIR and its predecessor organizations. Honored in tributes throughout the day, these individuals were Jim Haas (president of the Council on Library Resources 1978–1990), Patricia Battin (president of the Commission on Preservation and Access 1986–1994), and Deanna Marcum (president of CLR 1994–1997, and president of CLIR 1997–2003).
Heritage Health Index
Heritage Preservation President Larry Reger and Heritage Health Index Director Kristin Laise presented key findings of the Heritage Health Index, the first comprehensive survey of cultural heritage holdings in the United States. The survey, completed in 2005, included “every type of institution that holds collections in the public trust,” said Laise. It was sent to 15,000 institutions in the United States; the response rate was 24%. The survey authors made special attempts to obtain responses from 500 institutions—including state libraries, state archives, major museums, and academic and public libraries—identified as housing the largest and most significant U.S. collections; for that group, the response rate was 90%.
Of the 4.8 billion items for which U.S. institutions take preservation responsibility, books, bound volumes, and microfilm and microfiche are by far the most numerous. So it is not surprising that libraries hold about 63% of all items represented in the survey.
The survey revealed that improper storage facilities pose one of the greatest hazards to collections. Forty-six percent of libraries store their collections in areas too small to keep them safely and appropriately, and 69% reported damage to their collections because of improper storage.
Proper control of the environment—temperature, relative humidity, and light—is the most urgent preservation need at both public and academic libraries. More than one-quarter of academic libraries have no environmental controls for their collections.
About three-quarters of the responding libraries and archives have no emergency plan and no staff trained to carry out such a plan should disaster strike. This puts 2.6 billion items at risk.
Digital materials are at especially high risk. Only 31% of institutions include care of digital collections in their conservation/preservation mission or program. When asked about the condition of their digital holdings, libraries reported that half were in unknown condition and the other half were not in need of urgent care. No holdings were reported to be in urgent need of care. “Is that because there is not an awareness of urgent need?” asked Laise. “Over and over, we wondered whether [expression of] greater need had to do with greater awareness to diagnose that need.”
The survey confirmed what many librarians know all too well: preservation is understaffed and lacks stable funding. Eighty percent of institutions have no paid staff dedicated to collections care, and 70% of survey respondents said that they need more training and expertise for staff caring for their collections. Slightly more than 40% of archives and libraries reported that they have no funds allocated for conservation or preservation in their annual budgets.
“When the survey is done again . . . we would like to find that the conditions have improved,” said Reger. “But no one organization can solve the issues we face. If priorities are established, if solid action plans are developed to demonstrate what can be accomplished, and if we work cooperatively, I believe that the resources can be found to support our work.”
Register of Copyright Marybeth Peters discussed the Copyright Office’s recent recommendations to Congress on the orphan works problem and the status of Section 108 (fair use) discussions.
The number of orphan works—those whose owners cannot be identified or located—has grown in recent decades, largely because of changes in copyright law, Peters said. These changes include dropping the requirement that works bear a copyright notice (which removes any clue as to the owner); making copyright automatic (many works are thus not registered); lengthening copyright terms (owners of older works are harder to locate); making copyright renewal automatic (before this development, only about 15% of works registered in any year were renewed); and restoring copyright to many foreign works that have fallen into the public domain. Even works that are registered in the Copyright Office often have outdated information.
“I have said for years that we need to do something about the fact that you can’t find copyright owners,” said Peters. In January 2005, Congress authorized the Copyright Office to issue a call for public comment on the orphan works problem. The office received more than 850 responses, a strong indication of the number of difficulties that users face in seeking permissions to orphan works.
In January 2006, the Copyright Office submitted to Congress a report outlining the problem and recommending solutions. The report proposes that any user must first conduct a “reasonable search” for the copyright owner—such as checking copyright records or rights associations such as ASCAP or BMI. If a user conducts such a search and finds nothing, he or she may use a work if both the author and owner are attributed, to the extent that the user is certain of this information.
If an owner later comes forward, the user would have to pay the owner “reasonable compensation.” Nonprofit institutions that use orphan materials on the Web would have a choice: they could remove the item with no liability or agree on a reasonable compensation with the owner. The owner would have no right to statutory damages or attorneys’ fees. The recommendations include limiting the use of injunctions.
Reactions to the recommendations have been positive. However, one important group—photographers, illustrators, and graphic artists—is opposed. These artists note that their works often do not carry attribution and that it is difficult to search images to determine ownership. “This class of works is the biggest problem in orphan works and should not be excluded from the legislation,” said Peters. She expects that a bill on the orphan works problem will be introduced into the House soon, and legislation could be enacted this year.
Peters also addressed Section 108 of the Copyright Act, which covers fair use. This section gives nonprofit libraries whose collections are open to the public the right to copy and distribute published works for use by other libraries and patrons. The advent of digital technology has raised a host of questions relating to the limitations and exceptions applicable to libraries and archives. In 2005, the Library of Congress and Copyright Office began to study and document how Section 108 should be revised. The ensuing discussions and public comment have underscored the complexity of the problem.1 “There is no way all the issues will be resolved,” said Peters. Nonetheless, discussions continue, and another public roundtable will be held in September. “The goal is to wrap up by the end of October and figure out what legislative changes to recommend to the Librarian [of Congress] for consideration in 2008,” said Peters.
Greater Philadelphia Geohistory Network
Bob Kieft, librarian of Haverford College, introduced the Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network (GPGN), an innovative project that uses GIS technology as a basis for connecting history to place. The project is a remarkable collaboration among members of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL), a confederation of 29 institutions comprising archives (including the City of Philadelphia Department of Records), public and private academic libraries, historical and scholarly societies, and museums.
The aim of the project is to make historical documents that are held by multiple institutions accessible and searchable by time and place. Such documents include, for example, photographs, land-use records, maps, census data, and architectural drawings. The prototype Pocket Culture Browser (www.pocketculture.org) is one example of how this will be achieved. The browser is designed for use with a pocket PC or other handheld device. If a user types in “11th and Chestnut,” for example, he or she will be able to choose from a list of historic markers, a photo of a contemporary mural, or old photographs of streetscapes from the city archives.
According to Kieft, the idea for GPGN grew from “a desire to increase the utility of the research collections, extend their reach to new audiences, and open them to discovery through the Web.” A one-year planning grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation allowed PACSCL to identify partners outside the consortium, create a community of interest, scan and georeference atlases, and gather material for a demonstration project that focuses on one specific city block.
The project was built on the foundation laid by two previous efforts. The first was the Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Project, whose goal was to digitize a critical mass of graphic and textual information. The second was the city’s investment in creating a digitized, highly accurate map of Philadelphia for infrastructure and taxation purposes.
Philadelphia Records Commissioner Joan Decker described the process of scanning some 5,000 parcel maps, georeferencing them using aerial photography, establishing control points, and matching edges to create highly accurate digital maps annotated with addresses. The city now uses these maps for everything from trash-truck routing to locating water pipes. The maps also contain historic data in underlying layers that allow one to trace subdivisions and consolidations of property lines over time, identify deed holders, and find the names of former occupants of a given address. “Viewing this data is like looking through layers of an onion,” said Decker. The department is digitizing microfilmed birth, death, and naturalization information from the 1860s to 1910 and it will add this information to the database.
Robert Cheetham, chief executive officer of Avencia Inc., spoke about the applications his firm has developed for the city’s Records Department. Avencia has developed a Parcel Explorer, the Pocket Culture Browser, and a Web-based geographic photo explorer (www.phillyhistory.org). The Parcel Explorer will integrate contemporary property information with historic map collections from the city archives and the Free Library of Philadelphia. Avencia is continuing to develop the prototype Pocket Culture Browser, which will become even more accessible with the expansion of Philadelphia’s pioneering WIFI initiative. Finally, PhillyHistory.org serves as a demonstration for how the GPGN will enable geographic searching of library and archival materials.
Kieft emphasized the challenges inherent in collaborating with a group of institutions having such diverse histories, missions, and members, but noted that the partnerships has gone remarkably well. The project has now set its sights on further developing the technology infrastructure, incorporating more data, and increasing training, communications, and networking. More information about the GPGN is available at http://www.philageohistory.org/.
1 A background paper and all the comments are available online in a document entitled “Information for March 2006 Public Roundtable and Request for Written Comment” at http://www.loc.gov/section108/.
Editor’s note: The following article is the second in a series that examines the idea of “place as library,” one of CLIR’s four thematic areas of focus. The first article in this series, “Defining Place and a Sense of Community though Collaboration,” appeared in CLIR Issues 50.
Libraries: Diffuse and In the Flow
by Wendy Pradt Lougee
IN 2002, CLIR published Diffuse Libraries: Emergent Roles for the Research Library in the Digital Age, a report that explores developments that are creating new roles for libraries. The report, which I wrote for CLIR, suggests that two forces in particular—the growth of distributed technologies and the development of “open” models for collaborative work—will enable the library to become more involved at all stages, and in all contexts, of knowledge creation, dissemination, and use, rather than to be defined solely by its collections or the services that support them.
The distributed technologies and open models described in the report are now ubiquitous and taken for granted. Libraries have embraced opportunities for collaboration and have exploited new technologies for serving their communities. Libraries are deeply engaged in digital library development. “Open” paradigms permeate the landscape, evidenced in everything from open-source (nonproprietary) software to open-access publications and repositories. These forces have had a profound impact on the library and the entire academic enterprise. They have catalyzed change in scholarly communication and given rise to an evolutionary shift from publication as a product to publication as a process that reflects a continuum of activities. New genres of publication are emerging, and libraries are being challenged to manage, support, and contribute to this process.
The emergence of more social technologies (the so-called Web 2.0 trends) has prompted yet another wave of innovation and opportunity. Popular services such as MySpace, Flickr, and deli.icio.us offer promising models of component-based services that provide opportunities for community engagement. To function effectively in this context, libraries should, suggests Lorcan Dempsey of OCLC, focus on services that save time, that are targeted and engaging, and that are sensitive to the user’s workflow.1 As he puts it, libraries need to get “in the flow” of the user.
The Minnesota Response
In the past four years, the University of Minnesota Libraries have increased their investment in programs that stretch traditional roles. In collaboration with campus partners, we have pursued new venues, both physical and virtual, to support teaching, learning, and research. As a result, our libraries have become diffuse in the academy—that is, more deeply and broadly engaged in the creation and dissemination of knowledge. Our current plans further advance these efforts and take advantage of social and component-based tools to infuse the library “into the flow” of the user.
Here are a few examples of initiatives and emerging developments at Minnesota:
- Mobile librarians offer services in new physical contexts on campus and off, and use online tools for scheduling and interacting with their target communities.
- To improve the undergraduate learning experience and better serve this large constituency, a libraries team undertook a comprehensive assessment of “millennial-generation” needs and preferences. The process informed and gave birth to the Undergraduate Virtual Library, an online resource that provides core content and services as well as embedded tools to help students learn inquiry skills. One such tool is the Assignment Calculator, an immensely popular service that guides users through the research and writing process—and sends them e-mail reminders along the way! A demo is available at http://www.lib.umn.edu/undergrad/external/.
- Our libraries are working with academic units on the St. Paul campus to create the SMART Learning Commons (SMART LC). This holistic, integrated suite of customized learning-support services has a physical base within the library and a coalition of program staff. The SMART LC offers face-to-face peer-learning consultants, course-specific workshops, writing support, and programs to teach information and technology literacy. The current focus is science and math curricula, but discussions are under way to adapt the model to serve different disciplinary clusters in centers throughout the Twin Cities campus. Partners in the SMART LC effort include several colleges, the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence, the Center for Teaching and Learning Services, the Online Writing Center, Disability Services, and University Counseling and Consulting Services.
- We have launched the University Digital Conservancy. This program identifies digital information assets associated with the institution, its faculty, and its scholarly partners that should be preserved for long-term access. In addition to providing an infrastructure for digital archiving, the conservancy will offer campus consulting and educational programs to ensure best practices for content creation and management.
- Our Digital Library Development Lab has moved in more “social” directions, implementing the university’s blog service (UThink) used for individual expression, teaching applications, and new forms of publishing (e.g., Into the Blogosphere, a peer-reviewed, peer-edited monograph). A research partnership with the university’s computer science faculty is developing recommender systems for use with digital libraries. These models present relevant information items to a user by connecting his or her preferences with those of a community.
- In an ambitious planning effort funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we have recently completed a large-scale investigation of research behaviors of faculty and graduate students in the humanities and social sciences. The yearlong process of community engagement and study explored the full spectrum of research resources used by these individuals. The assessment is already informing service improvements and new outreach initiatives. A significant thrust for the future will involve the design of coherent online environments (i.e., relevant resources brought together to serve particular communities) that can be integrated within the researcher’s workflow. The project has laid significant groundwork for digital development by identifying primitives—i.e., common behaviors across disciplines—and the nuances that distinguish disciplinary communities. Project goals include both developing an extensible model for assessment and using the assessment data in developing new services. We are currently analyzing the behavioral data to design virtual research environments that offer a suite of customizable (and increasingly social) tools, targeted content, and services for personal information management. The project will build on our earlier investments in component technologies and campus partnerships. More information about this work is available at http://www.lib.umn.edu/about/mellon/index.phtml.
The Future: Extraordinary Information Experiences
The University of Minnesota Libraries’ vision statement refers to our aspiration to provide “intellectual leadership and extraordinary information experiences toward the advancement of knowledge.” Increasingly, the strategies we use to achieve that goal are diffuse and collaborative; reflect engagement with the processes of research, learning, and teaching; and infuse the library in the flow of our users’ academic lives.
1 Dempsey, Lorcan. (2006). The (Digital) Library Environment: Ten Years After. Ariadne 46. Available at http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue46/dempsey/.
CLIR Appoints Committee to Advise on Place as Library
CLIR HAS FORMED an advisory committee on place as library, the third of four committees that are being established to guide CLIR’s agenda. Advisory committees on preservation and scholarly communication have already met, and a fourth advisory committee is being formed on leadership. The following individuals serve on the advisory committee on place as library, which will meet May 22.
Joseph Branin, University Librarian
Ohio State University
Alan Cattier, Director of Academic Technologies
Scottie Cochrane, Director of Libraries
Ginnie Cooper, Executive Director
Brooklyn Public Library
Sam Demas, College Librarian
Joseph Gordon, Deputy Dean
Rolf Hapel, Director
Aarhus Public Libraries
Deborah Jacobs, Director
Seattle Public Library
Robert Johnson, Chief Information Officer
Wendy Lougee, University Librarian
University of Minnesota
Robert S. Martin, Lillian Bradshaw Endowed Chair in Library Science
Texas Women’s University, and CLIR Distinguished Fellow
Diana Oblinger, Vice President
Victoria Salmon, Academic Director, Higher Education Program
George Mason University
William Walker, University Librarian
University of Miami
2006 Mellon Dissertation Fellows Named
ELEVEN GRADUATE STUDENTS have been selected to receive awards this year under the Mellon Fellowship Program for Dissertation Research in the Humanities in Original Sources, which CLIR administers.
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 materials 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 Chicago
History of Culture
Dissertation title: “Private Modernities: Beirut Homes on the Eve of Nationalism”
University of Michigan
History: Modern Britain
Dissertation title: “Public Dancing and the People’s War in Britain, 1939–1945”
Hieu V. Ho
History: US Diplomatic History/Vietnamese History
Dissertation title: “Village Histories: Social and Political Change in Rural Central Vietnam”
University of Washington
Political Science (Comparative Policies, Public Law)
Dissertation title: “The Making of Islamic Law: Local Elites and Colonial Authority in Malaya”
University of Minnesota
Dissertation title: “Toward the Meaning of Marinid Madrasa: Study of Documentary Sources”
University of Chicago
History: 19th Century American
Dissertation title: “The Ways of Providence: Risk and Freedom in America, 1830–1910”
Dissertation title: “That Old Mill: A History of Country Music in New England, 1925–present”
Jose Emmanuel Raymundo
African American Studies and American Studies
Dissertation title: “From the Symptoms to the Lesions: Leprosy, Democratic Citizenship and Nation Building in the Philippines”
History: Modern South Asia
Dissertation title: “The Scenic Obsecenities of Sa’adat Hasan Manto: Urdu Literary and Popular Cultures 1870–1955”
East Asian Languages and Cultures
Dissertation title: “Places and Objects: Interpreting Women’s Space in Fujian and Jiangxi during the Song Dynasty (960–1279)”
University of Chicago
Cinema and Media Studies/Cinema Studies
Dissertation title: “The Intermedial Aesthetics of Applied Color Technologies in Silent Cinema”
CLIR Names 2006 Rovelstad Scholarship Recipient
Rebecca Leigh Miller Banner, a doctoral candidate in the School of Library and Information Management at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas, was named the fourth recipient of the Rovelstad Scholarship in International Librarianship. She has an M.L.S. from Emporia State and is currently working on her dissertation, “The Diffusion of Professional Knowledge in Intercultural Exchanges: The American-Bulgarian Library Exchange Case Study.” 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 Seoul, Korea, in August.