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CLIR Issues Number 89

CLIR Issues
Number 89 • September/October 2012
ISSN 1944-7639 (online version)


DPLA: Looking Forward, Interview with Emily Gore

Bringing Users into the Picture: Lessons from Projects in Participatory Design in Academic Libraries

Fit For Purpose Recommends Methods for Business Planning in Research Libraries

CLIR and Vanderbilt Form Committee to Examine National-Scale Digital Projects in Higher Education

New Website Offers Resources on History of Women’s Education

CLIR Seeking Hosts for 2013 Postdoctoral Fellowships in Academic Libraries for Humanists, Social Scientists, and Scientists

Apply Now for Postdoctoral Fellowships in Academic Libraries, 2013

Other Program Application Deadlines

2013 Mellon Fellowships for Dissertation Research in Original Sources
Leading Change Institute
Rovelstad Scholarship in International Librarianship

We invite you to check out our blog series, “Re: Thinking.” The weekly blog features perspectives from a variety of contributors on topics relating to the emerging digital environment, research, and higher education.

CLIR Issues is produced in electronic format only. To receive the newsletter electronically, please sign up at Content is not copyrighted and can be freely distributed.

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DPLA: Looking Forward, Interview with Emily Gore

Shortly after the DPLA Midwest Plenary in October,* DPLA Director for Content Emily Gore spoke with CLIR Issues about the DPLA, its April 2013 launch, and what’s next.

How do DPLA efforts build on past digital library work?

The whole idea of the DPLA is to take advantage of existing infrastructure to expose content that is already out there. We’ve designed the Digital Hub Pilot Program—where we have both service hubs and content hubs—to take advantage of that infrastructure.

In the Digital Hub Pilot Program there are seven service hubs: six are statewide collaborations and one is a regional collaborative digital library that includes three states. These collaborations have digitized material from throughout their states and regions—a number of them have been doing this for years. Many of these partners have been sponsored by LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) funding, through IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services), and by other grants. These collaborations have involved all kinds of cultural heritage institutions in digitizing, in describing the materials via metadata, and in making material available on a statewide basis.  We are working with these states and regions and the content that they already have aggregated. The DPLA itself is not creating any new content.

In addition to the service hubs we have content hubs, which are large content holders. We already have commitments from Harvard University, the National Archives, and the Smithsonian. We’ll soon announce several other large content holders that will be working with us on this initial pilot project. Bringing all of that metadata together into an aggregation is the initial goal for the April release for these service hubs and content hubs.

Will the DPLA hold any digitized items, or just metadata?

At this point the goal is to aggregate metadata to create a national digital library. There has been talk of the fact that there are some institutions that might not be capable of having their own repository and we might not be able to hook them up with service or content hubs to expose their content. If that happens, then there may be a role for the DPLA or for a DPLA partner to hold content. If the need arises, we’ll try to work with others to determine how to address it. But at this point, the DPLA does not plan to do that.

Can you say more about what the service hubs and content hubs will do, and how they will work together?

Service hubs will offer help with new digitization and metadata creation to partners throughout their state—these could include small public libraries, big archives, historical societies, you name it. Once it’s created it will be in one place so DPLA can harvest metadata from these institutions in one spot. The goal is to continue to sustain and be an on-ramp for DPLA. The service hubs will also do some community-based programming. Each hub will have a plan where in most states it will work with local public libraries to engage the community in the efforts of the DPLA. An example might be inviting the public to bring in Civil War photos or doing interviews to get a local story. There may be seminars or panels around specific topics; the goal is to generate local interest.**

As for the content hubs, we’re going to take the content they already have—there is no requirement for new digitization—and we’ll work with them if they need to massage their metadata to make it play well with others. So there will be some interaction on metadata working together with content and services. Otherwise, the service hubs have a set of services they offer that the content hubs are not required to offer.

The content and service hubs have somewhat different sets of goals, so they are working with each other as peers. They are already learning a lot about governance structures, and how each of them relates to the other partners in their states.

I want to mention that we’ll be doing some exhibits. Europeana (our sister project) has laid a lot of groundwork. They have created focused exhibitions using the Omeka platform and we will be doing the same as part of the content hubs pilot project. Service hubs will be working to curate these exhibits on topics such as the Great Depression and the CCC, the civil rights movement and activism in the U.S., prohibition, Native Americans, the National Park Service. Each of the seven hubs is going to take on a topic for exhibition. We’ll have curated exhibits as well as access to all the metadata you can find. It will show examples of what can be found through DPLA or through portals of DPLA. The first exhibit to be released is a joint curated exhibit with Europeana on immigration.

It sounds as if DPLA is being built on a scale and level of collaboration that has not been seen in any previous project. Is that correct?

I would venture to say that’s correct. There have been many large collaborative library projects in the country, but I would say this is the first time so many stakeholders with this amount of diverse content are coming together. And this is just the starting point—the pilot, the proof of concept of both a technical infrastructure and a sampling of content from the content and service hubs. There are many more states with statewide digital libraries, and others ready to add their content as well. All initial grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Knight, and IMLS are for two years so we’ll continue to add to the infrastructure after April.

What have you found to be the key challenges to collaboration in this project?

In my opinion, the metadata is always the biggest challenge. If you asked the service hub leaders, I think all of them would agree because you can set standards but it doesn’t mean people will follow standards in exactly the same way. When you bring all the content together and people have done things in different ways your search results are affected.

On a larger level, I’d say that in any project of this scale there are skeptics and naysayers, though they are in the minority. We are asked why we are trying to do this when there’s Google. I hope that DPLA will be about more than just content. It is also about creating a community where we learn from each other and share our knowledge and resources about how we get things done. We are working together to improve infrastructure and create a model on-ramp for other institutions in the country to be able to add their content to DPLA. I hope we can demonstrate that there is value in the product we are putting out in that the DPLA is not only a portal but also an open API.

The goal of having all this metadata aggregated in one place and having an open API is to enable people to do with the content as they wish. The metadata will be CC Zero—totally free, open, and reusable. People can mash it up or create their own version. A small historical society or an academic library or a public library can take the content that they’re most interested in, brand it in a way they want to brand it, and build tools on top of it. For example, a historical society might want to build map access to see what is in their general area in the DPLA.

We’re having an Appfest Hackathon in November in Chattanooga, where developers will work with content and create tools and services on top of the API. I hope then that people will see the DPLA can be anything they want it to be. The DPLA is not just about having this wealth of content, which is wonderful. It’s about what we can create with that content and the creation of community around that content.

What’s next for DPLA, after the April 2013 launch?

DPLA has filed paperwork to become a 501(c)(3), and we hope that in the next few months it will gain its nonprofit status. We will be hiring an executive director to run the new organization. So the big thing in terms of governance is the transition to an independent organization. The people at the Berkman Center, and members of the DPLA secretariat and initial steering committee, have laid the groundwork.  Part of the mission and vision is to create this independent organization and to hire staff and move the organization forward. The people at Berkman will go back to work on other projects but remain involved in the board and committees in other ways. I’m looking toward to being the first employee of the new independent organization and helping to build a small core staff.

On the content side of things we will continue to work on the digital hubs pilot for the next two years. At the same time we will be developing strategies and infrastructure to enable other types of hubs or content aggregators to contribute content to the DPLA. Obviously DPLA can’t have one-to-one relationships with everyone in the country that has digital content—that would be very laborious and hard to maintain with a very small staff. So the goal is to build aggregators, working off of the service and content hub model, and expand participation.

How can broader community become engaged with the DPLA?

There are lots of opportunities for participation. There is a broad discussion listserv and there are specific listservs representing each of the six workstreams in DPLA: audience and participation, content and scope, financial and business models, governance, legal issues, and technical aspects. The workstreams also have open meetings, typically around plenaries, but they’ve also held a number of workshops. There will be an audience and participation workshop coming up in December that Dan Cohen will host in the DC area, the November Appfest Hackathon aimed at technical folks, and more. The metadata schema—first draft—has been released and we are seeking feedback from the community. I think the DPLA has done a fairly good job of engaging the community and creating ways for it to remain involved.

* Watch Emily Gore’s presentation on the Digital Hubs Pilot Program at DPLA Midwest 2012

** Watch presentations by Mary Molinaro, University of Kentucky Libraries, and John Butler, University of Minnesota Libraries, on work of those DPLA service hubs.

Bringing Users into the Picture: Lessons from Projects in Participatory Design in Academic Libraries


What do students and faculty most want from the library, and how would they redesign library space, if they could? Those questions guided 12 teams of library and IT professionals in research projects that they presented at a seminar on participatory design in academic libraries last May. The projects are reported in a new volume, Participatory Design in Academic Libraries: Methods, Findings, and Implementations.

Sponsored by CLIR and hosted by the University of Maryland, the seminar was led by Nancy Fried Foster, director of anthropological research at the University of Rochester’s River Campus Libraries. For the past six years, Foster has led CLIR’s Workshops in Participatory Design, which have been attended by more than 250 staff members from CLIR sponsoring institutions.

Foster defines participatory design as “an approach to building spaces, services, and tools where the people who will use those things participate centrally in coming up with concepts and then designing the actual products.” The seminar was the result of workshop participants’ desire to share their experiences in conducting user research and participatory design projects.

The project reports, adapted from seminar presentations, provide candid accounts of the methods, findings, successes, and challenges faced by teams working at diverse institutions, from small liberal arts colleges to large research universities. Projects ranged from enlisting students to film and provide commentary on study spaces, to inviting them to draw suggested library improvements, to soliciting their views of the ideal library using PhotoBooth during a library-sponsored pizza/outreach event.

“The papers report on user research and participatory design projects that excite, delight, frustrate, enlighten, and sometimes make us wince in recognition,” writes Foster, in her introduction. “It is our hope that reading this volume will encourage more people to consider the advantages of including a wide range of ‘experts’ in designing and developing spaces, services, and technologies so that we may all do our library-based work to better effect.”

The report is available in pdf format only at

Fit For Purpose Recommends Methods for Business Planning in Research Libraries

Libraries developing digital scholarship services should adopt structured, disciplined approaches to planning for their success, according to a new report, Fit for Purpose:  Developing Business Cases for New Services in Research Libraries. Sponsored by CLIR and its DLF program, Fit for Purpose presents a set of recommendations that libraries can adopt when developing any new service. The report attends closely to entrepreneurial activities such as library-based publishing and data stewardship because of the uncertainty and complexity of those services.

“Today’s networked environment has changed scholarship and challenges our perceptions of what is a ‘library’ service,” said DLF Director Rachel Frick. “This report can help libraries identify, start, and scale successful new services that are within their capacity and best fit their communities’ needs. The DLF program supports this research effort, as ‘digital libraries’ are not a single service silo, but a mode of service that cuts across all aspects of today’s research libraries.”

Fit for Purpose provides a decision-making toolbox created from elements of social entrepreneurship and project management that are consistent with research library environments and values. It addresses organizational readiness and risk tolerance, business case development, piloting new services, and monitoring sustainability through the business planning lifecycle. The team is also conducting several case studies to explore how libraries have conducted business planning to support their new ventures. These will be published at a future date, followed by a concluding report that reassesses the initial recommendations.

The report was developed by a team that includes Mike Furlough, of Penn State University; Ted Fons, of OCLC; Elizabeth Kirk, of Dartmouth College; Michele Reid, of North Dakota State University; and Carol Hunter, of the University of North Carolina. Judy Luther, president of Informed Strategies, serves as an advisor to the project.

“Rigor and risk are not antithetical,” notes Kirk. “We wanted to provide a structure that would help librarians and administrators more easily step through the elements of robust planning. The process can be tailored to the scale and scope of activity the library is discussing.” While the principles outlined in the report could be applied to many different types of library services, the research and case studies focus on publishing and data curation programs because libraries often frame these activities as “experiments” that they hope will lead to sustainable programs. “Experimentation is exhilarating and necessary. But we don’t provide good service if we haven’t thought through how we will move from experiments on ongoing support for the researchers we work with,” said Furlough.

Fit for Purpose is published by MediaCommons Press using the CommentPress platform. Readers are encouraged to engage in a dialogue with the authors and their colleagues about the recommendations and their related experiences. The report can be read at

CLIR and Vanderbilt Form Committee to Examine National-Scale Digital Projects in Higher Education

In early October, CLIR and Vanderbilt University established a committee to examine emerging national-scale digital projects and their potential to help transform higher education in terms of scholarly productivity, teaching, cost-efficiency, and sustainability.

The group, called the Committee on Coherence at Scale for Higher Education, comprises college and university presidents and provosts, deans, university librarians, and association heads. The committee will provide the leadership necessary to ensure that these projects are designed and developed as elements of a larger and encompassing digital environment.

The committee will focus on research and analysis of the large projects and their correlation; initial costs, operating costs and business plans for sustainability; and benefits and transformational aspects. Examples of these projects include the Hathi Trust, the Digital Public Library of America, the Digital Preservation Network, and data curation centers. Results of the committee’s work will be publicized regularly.

Members of the Committee include:

—Edward Ayers, president and professor of history, University of Richmond

—Paul Courant, university librarian and dean of libraries, Arthur F. Thurnau professor, Harold T. Shapiro collegiate professor of public policy, professor of economics and of information, faculty associate in the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

—Connie Vinita Dowell, dean of libraries, Vanderbilt University

—Rachel Frick, director, Digital Library Federation, CLIR

—Chuck Henry, president, CLIR

—Geneva Henry, executive director, Center for Digital Scholarship, Rice University

—James Hilton, vice president and chief information officer, University of Virginia

—Michael Keller, university librarian and publisher of Stanford University Press, publisher of HighWire Press, director of academic information resources, Stanford University

—W. Joseph King, executive director, National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE)

—Rick Luce, dean, University Libraries, professor and Peggy V. Helmerich chair, associate vice president for research, University of Oklahoma

—Clifford Lynch, executive director, Coalition for Networked Information

—Richard McCarty, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, Vanderbilt University

—Diana Oblinger, president and CEO, EDUCAUSE

—Bernie Reilly, president, Center for Research Libraries

—Joan Hinde Stewart, president and professor of French, Hamilton College

—Elliott Shore, chief information officer, Constance A. Jones director of libraries, professor of history, Bryn Mawr College; incoming executive director of the Association of Research Libraries

—John C. Vaughn, executive vice president, Association of American Universities

—Gary Wihl, dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Hortense & Tobias Lewin distinguished professor in the humanities in Arts and Sciences, Washington University

The committee will hold its first meeting in January 2013.

New Website Offers Resources on History of Women’s Education

The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education at Bryn Mawr College has launched a new website offering a wealth of free, open-access resources to foster scholarship and dialogue on the history of women’s education. The center is directed by CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow Jennifer Redmond, whose fellowship at Bryn Mawr College is shared between Special Collections, Canaday Library, and the History Department.

The website features lesson plans, digitized primary sources, thematic exhibits on past Bryn Mawr alums, such as Margaret Bailey Speer, and current Bryn Mawr undergraduates’ work on the scrapbooks created by students in the early years of the college. The center is focusing on digitizing prominent or unique items in the College’s collections, which will be freely available for teaching, research, or general interest to users across the world.

The center will hold its first conference on “Women’s History in the Digital World” March 22-23, 2013.

The Center is funded by the Albert M. Greenfield Foundation in Philadelphia.

CLIR Seeking Hosts for 2013 Postdoctoral Fellowships in Academic Libraries for Humanists, Social Scientists, and Scientists

Could your institution benefit from the expertise of an accomplished scholar who can invigorate approaches to collection use and teaching, contribute field-specific knowledge, and provide insight into the future of scholarship?

If so, we invite you to consider hosting a 2013 Postdoctoral Fellow in Academic Libraries. CLIR is currently the seeking position descriptions from hosts for fellows in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. These fellowships are flexible and can be designed to best suit an institution’s individual needs. Learn more about hosting a fellow at

Apply Now for Postdoctoral Fellowships in Academic Libraries, 2013

CLIR is pleased to offer three types of Postdoctoral Fellowship Program opportunities in 2013:

Please check fellowship details, as each has slightly different requirements and funding arrangements. The application deadline is December 31, 2012.

More information for applicants is available at

Other Program Application Deadlines

2013 Mellon Fellowships for Dissertation Research in Original Sources (deadline Nov. 29)

Leading Change Institute (deadline December 3, 2012)

Rovelstad Scholarship in International Librarianship 2013 (deadline Jan. 23, 2013)

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