CLIR Issues Number 90
Number 90 • November/December 2012
ISSN 1944-7639 (online version)
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. In the Dec. 20 blog, “A Genuine Logjam,” Chuck Henry considers what we can learn from Frederick Weyerhaeuser in building a new digital environment for higher education.
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Twenty-two institutions have been selected to receive 2012 Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives awards:
Alabama Folklife Association
Sacred, Secular, and Sewn with Soul: Discovering Alabama’s Folk Culture
American Museum of Natural History
Expeditionary Field Work at the American Museum of Natural History
Brooklyn Historical Society
City, Borough, Neighborhood, Home: Mapping Brooklyn’s Twentieth-Century Urban Identity
Uncovering the American Folksong Revival: Coffeehouse Culture and The Caffè Lena Collection
College of Charleston
The William A. Rosenthall Judaica Collection
Documenting Advocacy: Human Rights Collections in the Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research Columbia University
American View Books
David C. Driskell Center, University of Maryland
David C. Driskell Archive Project
Detroit Public Library Friends Foundation
Coleman A. Young Mayoral Papers
Jewish Theological Seminary
Jewish Ethnomusicology from the East: The Archives of Johanna Spector
Johns Hopkins University
The Roland Park Company Archives and the Martin L. Millspaugh Archives
Kentucky Historical Society
The Churchill Weavers Collection—40,000 Textiles Uncovered
Martha’s Vineyard Museum
Martha’s Vineyard Archives Project
Montana Historical Society
Lee Metcalf Photograph and Film Collections
Museum of the City of New York
Discovering the Future: The New York World’s Fairs Collections of 1939 and 1964 at the Museum of the City of New York and the Queens Museum of Art
ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives of USC
Out West: The LGBTQ Community Archive Cataloging Project
Open Knowledge Commons
Private Practices, Public Health: Privacy-Aware Processing to Maximize Access to Health Collections
San Diego Air & Space Museum
Increasing Access to Our Aerospace Heritage
Stanford University Archives
Documenting Climate Change: The Papers of Stephen H. Schneider
UC Santa Barbara Library
Foreign and Ethnic 78s in the UC Santa Barbara Sound Archives
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Oral History Cataloging Project
University of Pennsylvania
Uncovering Philadelphia’s Past: A Regional Solution to Revealing Hidden Collections
More detail on this year’s funded projects can be found at: https://www.clir.org/hiddencollections/awards/for-2012.
CLIR will issue a request for proposals for the next Hidden Collections funding cycle in early January 2013.
Created in 2008 and supported by ongoing funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives awards program supports the identification and cataloging of special collections and archives of high scholarly value that are difficult or impossible to locate. Award recipients create Web-accessible records according to standards that enable the federation of their local cataloging entries into larger groups of related records, enabling the broadest possible exposure to the scholarly community.
A registry of hidden collections and archives, based on information supplied by applicants, is available at https://www.clir.org/hiddencollections/registry.
The 2012 DLF Forum, held November 2–6 in Denver, Colorado, engaged more than 235 participants in topics ranging from the future of publishing to service models for digital scholarship, and encompassed numerous pre and post meetings. This year’s Forum was the most interactive to date. In addition to creating a Twitter hashtag (#dlfforum) and archive, staff asked speakers to share their presentations via SlideShare and provided the opportunity for collaborative notetaking using an open GoogleDoc for each session.
Kathleen Fitzpatrick opened with the keynote, “Planned Obsolescence Publishing Technology and the Future of the Academy.” Ms. Fitzpatrick is director of scholarly communication at the Modern Language Association and professor of media studies (on leave) at Pomona College. She is also a newly appointed CLIR Board member.
“DLF and CLIR will be thinking about how we can sustain the good conversations that started at the 2012 Forum in a way that carries our whole community forward until we meet again in Austin, Texas, in 2013,” said DLF Program Director Rachel Frick. To this end, over the coming months, DLF will release videos of brief interviews with speakers and attendees conducted during the Forum, in a series called “Voices from the 2012 DLF Forum.” In the first of these videos, Trevor Muñoz shares his thoughts on the role of librarians in digital humanities. Muñoz is assistant dean for digital humanities research at University of Maryland Libraries and associate director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities.
View photo slides from the Forum >
By Charles Henry and Stephen Nichols
Reprinted from CLIR Annual Report 2011-2012
Reflecting on the past year, we can see clearly that CLIR is continuing to build vigorously upon its mission: forging strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments. In doing so, CLIR has formed collaborative partnerships with libraries, cultural institutions, and associations of higher learning to train an emerging profession in service to advanced research (postdoctoral fellows in data curation), to create a registry that ties together scores of institutions and hundreds of valuable rare and special collections that otherwise would remain out of sight and inaccessible (hidden collections), and to mentor a growing cohort of future leaders (through the Frye Leadership Institute, now the Leading Change Institute).
As an organization that relies on its sponsors for financial support, we are always aware of the issue of “return on investment.” What do our hundreds of sponsors receive from CLIR that is especially valuable, unique, and integral to their advancement? CLIR’s research reports and array of communication types (e.g., routine publications, blogs, colloquiums, online connections, and posting spaces) are among the most respected and cited of their kind. The reincorporation of the Digital Library Federation has stimulated a cadre of technical experts to work more closely together on a variety of projects and issues. CLIR also lends its talented staff to important projects on behalf of our sponsors, such as the Digital Public Library of America and the Digital Preservation Network, particularly when those projects hold considerable promise for our successful evolution in a digital era.
In addition, CLIR raises grant funds that are redirected to our sponsors and partnering communities. Over the last seven years, CLIR has allocated $70,000 for our Zipf fellows; $2,000,000 for dissertation fellowships; $1,500,000 for the Early English Book Project; more than $800,000 for postdoctoral fellowships; $158,000 for participatory design workshops; approximately $626,000 for the Communities of Knowledge project; and more than $10,000,000 in grants for our Hidden Collections program. This Council believes strongly in reinvesting assets to enhance our sponsors’ ability to innovate, to help make their resources available to a wider public, and to foster new discovery.
During this past year, CLIR has initiated a variety of new projects designed and managed by our staff. They have focused on topics of immense complexity and urgency, with potentially transformative results. The expansion of our postdoctoral fellows program into data curation is one of these. Anvil Academic Publishing is another. Anvil is a partnership of universities and colleges that will guide the migration from printed books and journals to fully digital objects of expression. These new forms of scholarship—which are often richly layered works that can include not only the product of the research, but also extensive data (e.g., text, image, sound), algorithms, visualization tools, and linkages to other relevant research—will not “fit” into a printed page. Anvil will explore ways to capture and sustain the complex environment in which these discoveries are made and promulgated. Anvil’s business model is also indicative of CLIR’s mission. Relatively modest subscriptions from collaborating institutions are pooled with significant grant money to leverage their contributions. Whereas even large institutions cannot afford the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to migrate to a digital publishing platform, Anvil and its partners can accomplish that migration in an efficient and cost effective way with a smaller investment from each.
Finally, much of this year has been devoted to developing CLIR’s Committee on Coherence at Scale. The committee, composed of presidents, provosts, and leaders in library and technology spheres, will work to correlate and bring coherence to the many very large-scale digital projects in the United States. Its goals are ambitious: to develop methods, guidelines, and recommendations that would allow academic leaders to instantiate sustainable communities of practice that would in concert produce a new, more logical, and more rational system of higher education. The committee can assist in reconceptualizing the traditional model of competing, stand-alone institutions into a coherent system of higher education that preserves the identity and independence of universities and colleges, but brings together many of the functions and support services that undergird scholarship and teaching. Such a system would contribute to a well-wrought and sustainable communal good.
Working at the nexus of higher education administration, librarianship, information technology, and scholarly communication, CLIR is uniquely positioned to accomplish these tasks. And, as always, this work will be conducted explicitly on your behalf.
By Korey Jackson
Anvil Academic’s Built Upon initiative has one straightforward goal in mind: the production of scholarship and educational resources that take advantage of and showcase what can be done using existing digital archives and collections. But there’s also a larger opportunity within the Built Upon framework for scholarship that productively interrogates what the “digital turn” means to humanistic data practices and interpretations.
Historian Ben Schmidt writes in a recent post that “[d]igitization makes the most traditional forms of humanistic scholarship more necessary, not less. But the differences mean that we need to reinvent, not reaffirm, the way that historians do history.” In other words, digital archives open up opportunities not only for new readings of history, but also for new readings of how history is (and should be) done.
Built Upon is premised on the idea that the activities captured under the umbrella of “digitization” themselves deserve a fuller historicization, a more complete (and more thoroughly humanist) re-contextualizing. The digital database has often been treated more like an exotic scholarly vacation spot than an intellectual home—a nice place to visit, but strange enough, and challenging enough to our sense of expertise, that the tent pegs rarely stay put long enough to produce deeply engaged output about the form that data take. Much of this sense of strangeness, and the reluctance of many scholars to engage with digital materials at the level of their digitization, comes from the need for good, social, and intellectual histories about the processes of digitization. Rather than letting the term simply stand in for a set of detached, seemingly alchemical conjurations (MySQL, XML, TEI, AMP, API…) Built Upon offers space for unpacking these processes and getting at the basic humanness behind them.
Digitization—a noun derived from a verb (digitize) derived from an adjective (digital) derived from yet another noun (digit) derived from a metaphor (the human finger)—is a term deceptively neat in its erasure of the deeply complex process of transforming media into packet-sized information ultimately accessible through digital interfaces. Digitization means creating new landscapes of data, metadata, and media. It also means instituting practices of material and linguistic conversion that are, well, institutional: practices set in motion by people, performed by people, according to standards and using languages created by people, ostensibly for the benefit of other people. If any humanistic practice is worthy of full socio-historical analysis, digitization and the strange culmination of technical and administrative will power behind it certainly is.
The archives and collections that form Anvil’s Built Upon partners all include large amounts of digitized data. Some also include feature-rich modes of accessing and visualizing this data. And they all share the common trait of having been developed with the express purpose of being used, of being read, and of housing materials in such a way as to facilitate further reading and engagement. They are, in other words, archives of cultural artifacts and cultural artifacts themselves. As such, they deserve to be both used and read. They deserve the explorations and analyses of trained eyes.
This is what we mean when we write that Built Upon is designed “to encourage authors to investigate and invigorate pre-existing digital tools and collections in developing their own scholarly arguments or pedagogical projects.” We want the Built Upon series to be “an incubator and an accelerator of humanities innovation” precisely by creating new understandings of data-as-object and the digital database/archive/collection as the cultural and infrastructural space that data inhabits.
But in order for these kinds of new understandings to achieve their fullest (and most useful) expression, humanist and librarian scholars will need to combine research, analytical, and communicative forces. Built Upon requires not just open data, but equally open conversations between the librarians, technologists, and humanists who have helped to instigate and administer the digitization, archiving, and interfacing of critical humanities materials. Good scholarship in this context can’t (or shouldn’t) stop at a commitment to treating data responsibly; it must also inquire into the cultural and institutional forces that give rise to the data environment as it now exists. The discourse that comes of these interdisciplinary, cross-divisional conversations—what we might call critical data studies1—will need the full participation of both scholar librarians and scholars of librarianship.
1 For more on the broader context of cultural studies and information/data scholarship, see: Siva Vaidhyanathan. “Afterword: Critical Information Studies.” Cultural Studies 20, no. 2-3 (March 2006), 292-315. DOI: 10.1080/09502380500521091
In a new collaboration, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and Europeana have launched a virtual exhibition, Leaving Europe: A new life in America. The exhibition tells the story of European emigration to the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries. Jointly curated by the two digital libraries, the exhibition uses photographs, manuscripts, broadsheets, paintings, letters, audio, government documents and other unique materials to chart people’s journeys across the European continent and their settlement in the United States. The digital items displayed are from U.S. and European libraries, museums and archives and the accompanying narrative has been commissioned specially for the exhibition from U.S. and European experts.
CLIR welcomes new Board members Kurt De Belder, of the University of Leiden; Kathleen Fitzpatrick, of the Modern Language Association; and Michael A. Keller, of Stanford University. The new members were elected by the CLIR Board at its November meeting, and their terms will begin in April 2013.
Mr. De Belder is university librarian and director of the Leiden University Libraries and Leiden University Press in the Netherlands. His main area of expertise is scholarly communication, digital libraries, e-publishing, and e-learning. He has held positions at New York University, the University of California at Berkeley, and Stanford University, as well as at the University of Amsterdam and Leiden University. He is a member of the executive board of LIBER, the Association of European Research Libraries.
Ms. Fitzpatrick is director of Scholarly Communication at the Modern Language Association, and is on leave from a position as professor of Media Studies at Pomona College in Claremont, California. She is the author of Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy (NYU Press, 2011); and The Anxiety of Obsolescence: The American Novel in the Age of Television, (Vanderbilt University Press, 2006). She is co-founder of the digital scholarly network MediaCommons. Ms. Fitzpatrick was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Digital Library Federation (DLF) Forum.
Mr. Keller is the Ida M. Green University Librarian at Stanford University, founder and publisher of HighWire Press, and publisher of Stanford University Press. He is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Keller is primarily focused on the support of research, teaching, and learning; effective deployment of information technology hand-in-hand with materials; and the evolution and growth of scholarly communication.
The Board also elected a slate of new officers, as follows: Chair–Herman Pabbruwe (Brill); Vice-Chair–David Rumsey (Cartography Associates and David Rumsey Map Collection); Secretary–Karin Wittenborg (University of Virginia); Treasurer–David Gift (Michigan State University).
University of Oklahoma Libraries
Last Chance to Apply for Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
Deadline is December 31, 2012, 5 pm EST
The CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowship Program offers recent Ph.D. graduates the chance to help develop research tools, resources, and services while exploring new career opportunities. Fellows work on projects that forge and strengthen connections among library collections, educational technologies, and current research. Host institutions benefit from fellows’ field-specific expertise by gaining insights into their collections’ potential uses and users, research practices and scholarly information behaviors, and current teaching and learning methods within particular disciplines.
CLIR offers three types of postdoctoral fellowships:
- CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowships in Academic Libraries:
- CLIR/DLF Postdoctoral Fellowships in Data Curation for the Sciences and Social Sciences:
- CLIR/DLF Postdoctoral Fellowships in Data Curation for Medieval Studies:
Each has slightly different requirements, relating to eligible fields of study, funding, and terms of appointment.
A list of all currently advertised positions is available at:
Information for applicants is available at: