Number 91 • January/February 2013
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. Recent blogs have included “A Sound Connection to our Past,” by Alan Gevinson, coauthor of the Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Plan (Feb. 14); and “How Much do We Need to Know?“, by CLIR President Chuck Henry (Feb. 7).
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A web of interlocking issues currently threatens the long-term survival of our sound-recording history, from a lack of storage capacity and preservation expertise to rapidly changing technology and disparate copyright laws governing historical recordings. Major areas of the nation’s recorded-sound heritage have already been destroyed or remain inaccessible to the public. A new report copublished by CLIR and the Library of Congress, The Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Plan, presents a blueprint for tackling these issues. The report spells out 32 short- and long-term recommendations involving both the public and private sectors and covering infrastructure, preservation, access, education, and policy strategies.
The plan is the cumulative result of more than a decade of work by the Library of Congress and its National Recording Preservation Board, which comprises representatives from professional organizations of composers, musicians, musicologists, librarians, archivists, and the recording industry.
Experts estimate that more than half of the titles recorded on cylinder records—the dominant format used by the U.S. recording industry during its first 23 years—have not survived. The archive of one of radio’s leading networks is lost. A fire at the storage facility of a principal record company ruined an unknown number of master recordings of both owned and leased materials. The whereabouts of a wire recording made by crew members of the Enola Gay as the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima are unknown. Many key recordings made by George Gershwin no longer survive. Recordings by Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and other top recording artists have been lost. Personal collections belonging to recording artists were destroyed in Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.
Many rights holders have not permitted researchers or the general public to listen to the recordings they legally control outside the limited scope of facilities maintained by legitimate research institutions. One survey of reissues of historical U.S. recordings created between 1890 and 1964 determined, “On average, rights owners have made available 14 percent of the historic recordings that they control from the various eras.” A gospel-music historian estimated that only a few of the thousands of gospel recordings that have been produced are now available commercially.
There is currently no efficient way for researchers or the general public to discover what sound recordings exist and where they can be found. Few historical recordings can be made available online legally because of aspects of the U.S. copyright law.
Technology of the twenty-first century provides enormous potential for addressing information-sharing, coordination, preservation, and access challenges that were previously insurmountable. However, the digital environment has created significant technical, organizational, and funding challenges for those institutions responsible for preserving recorded-sound history for future generations.
Among the recommendations:
- Create a publicly accessible national directory of institutional, corporate, and private recorded-sound collections and an authoritative national discography that describes the production of recordings and the location of preservation copies in public institutions;
- Develop a coordinated national collections policy for sound recordings, including a strategy to collect, catalog, and preserve locally produced recordings, radio broadcast content, and neglected and emerging audio formats and genres;
- Establish university-based degree programs in audio archiving and preservation and continuing education programs for practicing audio engineers, archivists, curators, and librarians;
- Construct environmentally controlled storage facilities to provide optimal conditions for long-term preservation;
- Establish an Audio-Preservation Resource Directory website to house a basic audio-preservation handbook, collections appraisal guidelines, metadata standards, and other resources and best practices;
- Establish best practices for creating and preserving born-digital audio files;
- Apply federal copyright law to sound recordings created before February 15, 1972;
- Develop a basic licensing agreement to enable on-demand secure streaming by libraries and archives of out-of-print recordings;
- Organize an advisory committee of industry executives and heads of archives to address recorded sound preservation and access issues that require public-private cooperation for resolution.
The recommendations were developed by task forces that included experts from public and private institutions across the country in the fields of law, audio preservation, library/archive management, business, digital technology, and cultural history. The plan recommends that the board take responsibility for moving the recommendations forward.
The Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Plan follows several accomplishments, including five landmark studies from 2005-2009 on issues affecting sound-recording preservation and access, and the 2010 publication of The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States: A National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age. Both the preservation plan and the 2010 report are available as free downloads; print copies can be purchased by following the instructions on the main publication page.
Read report coauthor Alan Gevinson’s blog, “A Sound Connection to our Past.“
Jennifer Rian is Innovative Services Librarian in the merged Library and Information Services (LIS) at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Last November, she attended the CLIR Intermediate Workshop on Participatory Design at Washington University in St. Louis. She spoke with CLIR Issues about her position and the impact of her work in a liberal arts setting.
CI: You have an unusual title for a librarian. Why was your position created and what are your areas of responsibility?
My position was created by Chris Barth (former executive director of Library and Information Services) as an opportunity for a fresh library school graduate to explore new ideas that would advance local initiatives and push the library profession in new directions. I had just graduated from Florida State University’s (FSU) School of Library and Information Studies and what instantly attracted me was the boldness of the opportunity—the chance to explore change, experiment, and essentially design my own job. It was advertised as a three-year position to give the person enough time to effect change while institutionalizing a fresh perspective.
Generally speaking, my responsibilities are to design, assist, and coordinate initiatives that advance an innovative program of library and technology services in a liberal arts setting. Practically speaking, my areas of focus are allowed to change and evolve with my interests and the needs of the organization and have ranged from social media and space design to marketing and training or instruction initiatives. I am also responsible for initiating conversations and taking action related to maintaining a culture of innovation within the organization.
CI: Given your unstructured job description, how did you know where to start?
My first semester at Luther was actually quite structured. Each week I focused on a different topic, such as circulation, reference services, technology help, and other areas. I met with a point person from each area and focused on listening, exploring, researching, and noting observations. During this process, I kept an eye out for opportunities to collaborate and innovate. I also attended meetings with different teams inside LIS, such as software development, that librarians do not normally attend. My title would always pique people’s curiosity, and they would ask, “what does innovative services mean?” In the beginning I used to joke that it meant I shoot fireworks out of my hands; that usually produced a laugh, broke the ice, and served as an entry point to deeper conversation about the role of libraries in higher education. Those conversations and relationships have been invaluable in creating my work plan.
One of my biggest discoveries is the importance of perception when it comes to libraries. People assume what a library is, so they do not contemplate what a library could be. It is my job to prod them to think about the possibilities. Much of my work involves perceptions and how you change and expand them through experiments, discussions, displays, workshops, and other kinds of activities. I seek to get people excited about what they can achieve through the power of the library by thinking about it as a growing organism rather than a static building. I’d love it if more people would think of libraries as platforms for knowledge creation and community building, not just repositories of information. Libraries are places where you contribute, not just consume.
CI: How do you define innovation in the context of a liberal arts setting?
Often, innovation is a buzzword for things that are high tech, totally disconnected from and disruptive to existing traditions. In the liberal arts, where we focus on educating the whole person, I think we draw on a much deeper definition of innovation. It means embracing a spirit of flexibility, reinvention, and imagination in all that we do to prepare people to work and live in a world that is constantly changing. I am a prime example. I graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and initially started teaching high school English before becoming a museum educator and then launching myself into librarianship. If you are innovative in a liberal arts setting, you use tradition as a launching pad to recycle and repurpose—to go back and draw on your foundation to create something new.
I also see innovation as specific to individual communities; what is innovative in one place might be passé elsewhere. For example, at FSU’s Goldstein Library I would regularly see people using smart phones or tablets to access library resources, but at Luther that is not the case, although it’s changing. So, our recent push to encourage our community to explore e-reading via tablets and other mobile devices is something innovative for us. At the end of the day, however, I believe innovation is more about a way of thinking than it is about things.
CI: What kinds of initiatives have you undertaken to promote innovation in the library?
My work is divided into two kinds of initiatives—those for the public that directly change or impact the experience students, staff, and faculty have in working with the library; and those for the staff that focus on promoting a working culture of innovation.
In an effort to increase opportunities for two-way communication with students, we started a library graffiti board located near the vending machine/cafe space. It’s a large two-sided white board with one side featuring an open ended prompt such as, “someday I will. . .” or “the greatest thing is. . .”; the other uses more focused questions related to current library initiatives such as, “What do you think of group study space in the library?” or “How can we help you prepare better for finals?” Students respond using post-its or white board markers. This conversational space has led to certain changes in the library. For example, one student wanted standing desks, and we were able to respond quickly by repurposing existing furniture and alerting the student through the board. I think this type of communication fosters a sense of ownership and participation in the library.
With the faculty, we’re increasing opportunities to address information literacy as part of the curriculum through the librarians’ liaison role with their department. Recently I was meeting with economics and business department faculty when they raised the problem of how to address students’ proficiency with Excel. I offered to research how other schools were addressing this issue, which ultimately led to adding a tab of specific Excel resources to the department LibGuide. Then, going one step further, I am combining those resources with personal Excel experts from across campus to develop an Excel learning community hosted by the library to begin later this spring.
As for promoting innovation with LIS staff, one of my favorite initiatives was a two-day workshop I co-led last summer with LIS Executive Director Paul Mattson. We conducted a personality inventory using the True Colors system, held big picture discussions using the World Cafe format (a type of discussion used for hosting large group dialogue), and also discussed Seth Godin’s provocative Poke the Box text. The whole idea was to encourage staff to experiment, try new things, and embrace the idea that it is “okay” to fail.
CI: What kinds of assessments or measures do you use to evaluate how innovative and effective your projects are?
It really depends on the project because I use different methods, although they usually all center on the idea of measuring community engagement, interest, and impact. Methods range from straight attendance/participation numbers to more qualitative online or in-person feedback.
Since many library services and resources are accessed online, I turn to social media to gauge community feedback to initiatives. For example, I monitor Twitter on a regular basis, conducting advanced searches for the terms Preus Library, library, lib, tech, and LIS tweeted from a radius of 15 miles of Decorah. I respond when appropriate and capture screenshots of relevant tweets to add to an ongoing Google presentation file entitled “LIS Social Media Reputation.” I also regularly solicit feedback, interaction, and conversation from the broader campus community using contest-like postings on the library’s Facebook page.
Speaking of social media, another part of my job is educating the community about the possibilities, beyond marketing, of social media in higher education. For example, I hold training sessions and personal consultations with faculty on how to use networks like Google+ to enhance their teaching. I also conduct research instruction sessions on how to use Twitter as part of competitive intelligence. Most recently, I’ve been talking with faculty and staff about online reputation management and data privacy. These conversations have led to the creation of several workshops that will be held this spring.
CI: What will happen to you and your position at the end of your three years?
Change abounds in higher education, and Luther is no exception. Since I was hired, Luther has a new LIS executive director whose enthusiasm for innovation continues to shape this position. This summer the college will hire a new president. Through all of this, it is clear to me that Luther has an ongoing commitment to address creatively the issue of innovation in libraries. I would expect this position to continue to grow and evolve with the changing needs of the college. At the end of my time here, I hope to have left a solid foundation for the next person to continue experimenting. In terms of specifics, I believe it’s still too early to tell.
As far as I’m concerned, I could conceivably continue as part of the library team here at Luther, or I might find myself in another library, academic or otherwise, or perhaps I will be championing the skills of librarianship in a non-library setting like a chamber of commerce or other community development organization.
I could not have imagined a better position for my first professional librarian gig upon graduating from library school. Working as part of a merged organization has definitely broadened my worldview of librarianship. My colleagues here have also been truly generous, enabling me to build skills and confidence that will serve me well in my next steps.
The following individuals have been selected for participation in the 2013 Leading Change Institute. The Institute, sponsored by CLIR and EDUCAUSE, will be held June 2-7, 2013, in Washington, DC.
Andrew Ashton, Brown University Library
Joanne Berg, University of Wisconsin-Madison
James Bradley, Tulane University
Donna Braquet, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Beau Case, University of Michigan Library
Christopher Comerford, Northwestern University
Donovan DeJong, Augustana College (SD)
Elizabeth Dupuis, University of California, Berkeley
Kimberly Eke, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Michael Erickson, Emporia State University
Alan Ferrenberg, Miami University
Ryan Frazier, Harvard University
Hannah Frost, Stanford University
Kenton Good, University of Alberta Libraries
John Grover, University of Maine System
David Heffner, Lycoming College
Jason Hoerr, Albright College
Stephen Hussman, Central Washington University
Jon Jablonski, University of California Santa Barbara
Hweida Kammourié-Charara, Lebanese American University
Martha Kyrillidou, Association of Research Libraries
Tracie Lewis, North Carolina A&T State University
Jane Livingston, Yale University
Heather McCullough, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
John Meier, Pennsylvania State University
Karissa Miller, Ringling College of Art and Design
Kelly Miller, University of California, Los Angeles
Shawn Miller, Duke University
Helen Norris, California State University, Sacramento
Sherri Parker, Harrison College
Barbara Pralle, Johns Hopkins University
Debora Robertson, Briar Cliff University
John Rohleder, Century College
Diane Skorina, Ursinus College
Joy Taylor, George Mason University
Melissa Vetter, Washington University in St. Louis
Todd Watson, Southwestern University
David Weil, Ithaca College
Andrew White, Bates College
Gary White, University of Maryland
Canadian Institutions Now Eligible to Partner on Hidden Collections Projects
This year, Canadian institutions will be eligible to participate as partners in U.S.-led collaborative projects applying for Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program awards.
“In an increasingly global networked environment, national border restrictions make less intellectual sense to researchers,” said CLIR Program Officer Christa Williford. “With this change in our program, we hope to encourage increased international coordination and collaboration in setting cataloging and processing priorities, managing workflows, applying standards, and ultimately expanding access to scholars and students.”
For 2013, Canadian institutions will be allowed to participate in the Hidden Collections program as supporting partners in collaborations with U.S. institutions holding related collections. The Hidden Collections program requires its U.S. applicants to be either a college or university institution or registered as a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit organization. Any eligible U.S. applicant may receive and manage grant funds for a collaborative effort involving a similar Canadian institution or institutions. All partners in the collaboration must make a substantial contribution to the joint project.
In partnership with the University of British Columbia and the University of Ottawa, CLIR held a webinar on this new program development for Canadian research libraries February 19. The webinar presentation is available at http://councilonlibraryandinformationresources.adobeconnect.com/p5y54h8u1ep/.
The final Content & Scope Workshop for the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) will take place in Washington, DC on Thursday, February 28, 2013. Chaired by DLF Program Director Rachel Frick and DPLA Director of Content Emily Gore, the workshop aims to articulate the political, technological, and procedural advances that can be achieved by creating, collecting, and/or aggregating collections on a national scale and to identify these collection classes and related “big wins.”
To allow for maximum community input, we offer two options for remote participation:
1. Adobe Connect: http://councilonlibraryandinformationresources.adobeconnect.com/dplacs/
The Adobe Connect synch session will begin at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time. Simply click the link above, enter your name in the “Guest” box, and you will be in the session. You may have to install a quick, free, Adobe Connect browser plug-in if you have never used Adobe Connect before. You will not need to download or purchase any software.
In the Adobe Connect session, you will be able to use the chat box to ask questions and comment. We will be monitoring the chat box throughout the workshop to incorporate remote participation into the discussion. Through screen share you will also be able to view any documents we are discussing. Because we expect a high volume of participation, we will not be enabling microphones.
The Adobe Connect session can accommodate 100 participants, on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are unable to enter the session, you may participate through our second remote participation option:
2. Conference Line:
Dial-in number: 1-888-757-2790
Beginning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday, February 28, you will be able to dial in and enter the passcode to listen to the workshop proceedings. We will not be able to hear remote participants on the conference line; however, if you would like to contribute questions or comments, simply email Workstream Coordinator Jena Winberry (jwinberry [at] clir [dot] org), and she will incorporate your feedback into the discussion. We will email links to any shared documents through the Content & Scope listserv prior to the meeting for reference.
Remote participation information and an agenda can be found at http://dp.la/february-28-2013-content-scope-workshop/.
The application period for the Digging into Data Challenge, Round Three, is now open.
The Digging into Data Challenge has funded a wide variety of projects that explore how computationally intensive research methods can be used to ask new questions about and gain new insights into our world. To encourage innovative research from across the globe, Digging into Data is sponsored by ten international research funding organizations that are working together to focus the attention of the social sciences, humanities, library, archival, information, computer, mathematical, and statistical science communities on large-scale data analysis and its potential applications. The research funders represent Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The Digging into Data Challenge aims to address how “big data” changes the research landscape for the humanities and social sciences. Now that we have massive databases of materials available for research in the humanities and the social sciences, what new, computationally based research methods might we apply? As the world becomes increasingly digital, new techniques will be needed to search, analyze, and understand these materials. Digging into Data challenges the research community to help create the new research infrastructure for twenty-first-century scholarship.
Applicants will form international teams from at least two of the participating countries. Winning teams will receive grants from two or more of the funding agencies and, two years later, will be invited to show off their work at a special conference sponsored by the ten funders.
The deadline for final applications is May 15, 2013. For more information, visit http://www.diggingintodata.org/.