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CLIR Issues Number 99

CLIR Issues
Number 99 • May/June 2014
ISSN 1944-7639 (online version)


How do We Ensure Digitized Collections Remain Discoverable?
Twenty-Six Awarded CLIR/DLF Postdoctoral Fellowships
CLIR Receives Mellon Grant for Postdoctoral Fellowships in Data Curation
for Visual Studies

Michael Edson Named CLIR Distinguished Presidential Fellow
Announcing DLF Forum Cross-Pollinator Fellowships for Museum Practitioners
Join us for Code4lib Unconference and Coding Workshop
Apply Now for iFellows Doctoral Fellowship Program

We invite you to check out our weekly blog series, “Re: Thinking,” which features perspectives from a variety of contributors on topics relating to the emerging digital environment, research, and higher education. In the latest, “Opening Open Repositories,” Jon Dunn, director and interim assistant dean for library technologies at Indiana University Bloomington, posts on the recently concluded Open Repositories 2014 conference in Helsinki.

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.

Follow us on Twitter @CLIRNews, @CLIRHC, @CLIRDLF

How do We Ensure Digitized Collections Remain Discoverable?

By Christa Williford

Back in April, CLIR announced the beginning of a research and consultation process related to the digitization of unique cultural heritage materials. This ongoing process, undertaken in partnership with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is designed to inform decision-making about a possible successor to the Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program. The potential new initiative would continue CLIR’s agenda of promoting smart, efficient, and collaborative approaches to creating access to collections of high significance to scholars, but would go further, ensuring that newly accessible scholarly content becomes fully integrated with the online research environment through digitization.

Our seven years of experience in working with cataloging grant recipients have given us opportunities to learn from those who have undertaken related digitization projects that were funded independently or through other means. For some time, we have had a wealth of relevant expertise available to us through CLIR’s Digital Library Federation program and its annual Forum, and through many of CLIR’s own publications. These have helped us become attuned to the practical, technical, and legal complexities necessarily attendant upon any major digital library initiative.

Responses to our initial announcement from both constituents and outside experts have been enthusiastic, and they have deepened our appreciation of the wide range of issues and approaches to the work of digitization that must be considered if a program is to address the variety of formats, conditions, legal statuses, and institutional contexts of the never-before-digitized content that might fall within its purview. Forging productive working partnerships (both commercial and non-commercial) can be critical to making projects cost-effective, yet these partnerships can take many different shapes. Professionals may order the steps of cataloging, digitization, and the production of metadata in different ways within their workflow designs, depending upon circumstances.

One of the biggest barriers to the success of large digitization efforts is long-term sustainability, a problem with several dimensions. Ingesting digital content into secure, trusted repositories may address the problem initially, but many activities are required over time in order to maintain the quality, authenticity, and even readability of digital file formats, and these services come at a cost. Striking the right balance between the expense of preserving a digital copy and the expense of conserving the analog original from which it is derived (if re-digitization in the future is a realistic prospect) isn’t always a straightforward exercise. What may be a reasonable strategy in one case (the digitization of a securely housed rare book) may not be sufficient for another (the digitization of a fragile reel of film).

While acknowledging the complex challenges of digital preservation, it is also important to recognize that keeping digital content intact and available is not the same as keeping it discoverable. Both must be addressed for a large-scale digitization initiative to be effective. In a recent blog post, Research Libraries UK (RLUK) Director David Prosser cited a statistic brought to light by a study of more than 200 digital collections: almost half of the items in these collections did not appear within the first page of results displayed by Google upon a search for the item’s title. Even if CLIR does manage to launch an initiative that makes important collections available to scholars through digitization, if we cannot help to improve upon this statistic, we run the risk of making an enormous investment in digitizing collections that will not ultimately benefit a large proportion of potential users.

It is timely for us that last year’s Spotlight on the Digital co-design project (which included the aforementioned study) has produced a helpful guide for enhancing the discoverability of digital collections. This, and a great deal of other current research related to digitization and digital preservation, has been enormously helpful to our planning a potential future for the Hidden Collections program. Keeping up with developments in best practices for using digitization equipment, metadata production, rights management, storage, aggregation, and, of course, discoverability will all remain important for us as we move forward. We will update our constituents on our progress through the summer as we continue to think about how CLIR could contribute to the better integration of digitized cultural heritage within the emerging global digital research environment. And as ever, we welcome your comments at

Twenty-Six Awarded CLIR/DLF Postdoctoral Fellowships

CLIR/DLF has named twelve recipients of CLIR/DLF Postdoctoral Fellowships in Academic Libraries, nine recipients of CLIR/DLF Postdoctoral Fellowships in Data Curation for the Sciences and Social Sciences, and five recipients of CLIR/DLF Postdoctoral Fellowships in Data Curation for Early Modern Studies.

Fellowships are awarded to individuals who recently received a Ph.D. degree in the humanities, social sciences, or sciences. Eighteen fellows from the previous cohort, including six Postdoctoral Fellows in Data Curation for the Sciences and Social Sciences and five Postdoctoral Fellows in Data Curation for Medieval Studies, are spending a second year at their host institutions.

The CLIR/DLF Postdoctoral Fellowships in Data Curation for Early Modern Studies, launched this year with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, provide recent PhDs with professional development, education, and training opportunities in data curation for Early Modern Studies. Through this program, CLIR/DLF seeks to raise awareness and build capacity for sound data management practice throughout the academy.

All Postdoctoral Fellows will begin their program at an orientation seminar at Bryn Mawr College from July 27 to August 5, 2014. The seminar will introduce fellows to issues facing twenty-first-century libraries and provide an opportunity for fellows to meet others in their cohort who can share experiences and information. Portions of the seminar are devoted to discussing data curation and management.

CLIR administers the fellowship program in collaboration with academic institutions as a means of recruiting talent into the library profession. Information on the fellowships is available at


Laura Aydelotte
PhD English, University of Chicago
Host: University of Pennsylvania
Jessica Otis
PhD History, University of Virginia
Host: Carnegie Mellon University
Michael Bales
PhD Biomedical Informatics,
Columbia University
Host: Weill Cornell Medical College
Philip Palmer
PhD English, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Host: University of California, Los Angeles
Meaghan Brown
PhD English Literature, Florida State University
Host: Folger Shakespeare Library
Alicia Peaker
PhD English Literature with Certificate in Women’s Studies,
Northeastern University
Host: Middlebury College
Morgan Daniels
PhD Philosophy in Information,
University of Michigan
Host: Vanderbilt University
Sarah Pickle
PhD Comparative Literature, Cornell University
Host: Pennsylvania State University
Rachel Deblinger
PhD History,
University of California, Los Angeles
Host: University of California, Santa Cruz
Andrew Rechnitz
PhD English, The University of Texas at Austin
Host: Southwestern University
Anne Donlon
PhD English, The City University of New York
Host: Emory University
Christopher Sawula
PhD History, Emory University
Host: University of Alabama
Annie Johnson
PhD History, University of Southern California
Host: Lehigh University
Meredith Beck Sayre
PhD History of Science,
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Host: Indiana University
Emily McGinn
PhD Comparative Literature, University of Oregon
Host: Lafayette College
Emily Sherwood
PhD English, The City University of New York
Host: Bucknell University
Monica Mercado
PhD History, University of Chicago
Host: Bryn Mawr College
Stephanie Simms
PhD Archaeology, Boston University
Host: University of California, Los Angeles
Alice Motes
PhD Sociology, University of California, Irvine
Host: University of Minnesota
Plato Smith
PhD Library and Information Studies,
Florida State University
Host: University of New Mexico
Rikk Mulligan
PhD American Studies, Michigan State University
Host: Association of Research Libraries
Todd Suomela
PhD Communication and Information,
University of Tennessee
Host: University of Alberta
Tim Norris
PhD Environmental Studies,
University of California at Santa Cruz
Host: University of Miami
Yun Tai
PhD Sociology, Emory University
Host: University of Virginia
Charlotte Nunes
PhD English, The University of Texas at Austin
Host: Southwestern University
Ana Van Gulick
PhD Psychology, Vanderbilt University
Host: Carnegie Mellon University

CLIR Receives Mellon Grant for Postdoctoral Fellowships in Data Curation for Visual Studies

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded CLIR $916,000 to support a program of Postdoctoral Fellowships in Data Curation for Visual Studies. The program will fund a cohort of five fellows for two years at five institutions of higher learning, starting in September 2015.

As a field, visual studies calls attention to the material, cultural, and historical contexts of all images, the relationship of the visual object to the viewer, and the act of seeing from a historical and cultural perspective. Scholars in this field analyze and interpret static images, as well as film and video resources, including oral histories, performance art, and mass media.

The job of expert digital curators in this field will be to ensure that scholars can reliably use and refer to these visually based primary sources, from the most ancient that have been digitized to the most contemporary and complex objects that originate in digital form.

These fellowships are designed to help build the professional capacity needed for sustainable data management practice in visual studies. Fellows will be scholarly practitioners who understand not only the nature and processes of the disciplines broadly defined as the humanities, but also how research data are organized, transmitted, manipulated, reused, and maintained with integrity.

“We are delighted at the prospects of developing a professional cohort for data curation in visual studies,” said CLIR President Chuck Henry. “This generous grant widens and deepens our disciplinary focus in service to the humanities, giving our fellows opportunity to explore the role data plays in the methodologies of contemporary visual studies research and in its expression as scholarly communication. The cohort is expected also to routinely publish research and recommendations based on their immersive experience for the wider community of practitioners.”

This program complements the CLIR/DLF Postdoctoral Fellowships in Data Curation for Early Modern Studies and the Postdoctoral Fellowships in Data Curation for Medieval Studies, also funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; and the CLIR/DLF Postdoctoral Fellowships in Data Curation for the Sciences and Social Sciences, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Later this summer, CLIR will begin accepting proposals from institutions interested in hosting visual studies fellows. CLIR will post fellowship openings in October at The application deadline will be December 2014, and awards will be announced in June 2015.

Michael Edson Named CLIR Distinguished Presidential Fellow

Photo: Lars Lundqvist, CC-BY

CLIR has appointed Michael Edson CLIR Distinguished Presidential Fellow.

Edson is a strategist and thought leader at the forefront of digital transformation in the cultural sector. He has worked on numerous award-winning projects and has been involved in practically every aspect of technology and new media in museums including the development of the Smithsonian’s groundbreaking Web and New Media Strategy; the Smithsonian’s first blog, Eye Level; and the first alternative reality game to take place in a museum, Ghosts of a Chance. Michael serves on the Open Knowledge Foundation’s OpenGLAM advisory board and he was a member of the National Endowment for the Arts “Art Works” task force, which mapped the relationship between the arts and the quality of life in American communities. Michael is an O’Reilly Foo Camp veteran, and was named a “Tech Titan: person to watch” by Washingtonian magazine.

As a Presidential Fellow, Edson will work with CLIR on strategic and practical aspects of migrating the Cataloging Hidden Collections program to an international competition for the digitization of our cultural record.

“Mike’s distinguished record of thoughtful, innovative approaches to digital technology that promotes access to and understanding of our cultural heritage is remarkable,” said CLIR President Chuck Henry. “His essays and blogs are lucid and insightful, and we are delighted that he will bring his formidable talents to assist us in evolving what we hope to be a transformational digitization project for the public good.“

“CLIR has a powerful vision for the preeminent value of open content and open inquiry in a healthy democracy,” said Edson. “I am excited to be part of CLIR’s exceptional community, and I’m thrilled to be helping them bring their vision to fruition on a global scale.”

CLIR awards Distinguished Presidential Fellowships to individuals who have achieved a high level of professional distinction in their fields and are working in areas of interest to CLIR and the Digital Library Federation. Fellows may be appointed for one or two years.

crosspollinatorlogo.pngAnnouncing DLF Forum Cross-Pollinator Fellowships for Museum Practitioners

Attention museum and archives staff! The Digital Library Federation (DLF) is offering new DLF Forum Cross-Pollinator Fellowships for practitioners from museums and archives who would not otherwise be funded to attend the 2014 DLF Forum in Atlanta, October 27-29.

The goal of the new cross-pollinator fellowships is to facilitate cross-community conversations between the library, museum, and archival communities regarding digital collections and services.

Four awards of up to $1,250 each will be made to offset costs for travel, board, and lodging expenses of attending the DLF Forum. Additionally, the fellows will each receive a complimentary full registration to the Forum ($475 value). Fellowship recipients will be required to write a blog post, after the Forum, about their experience; this blog post will be published by DLF.

Applicants must be a staff member of a museum or archives who has not previously attended a Forum and would not otherwise be funded to attend the 2014 DLF Forum.

These fellowships are generously supported by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

To view the announcement and for application instructions, visit:

Join us for Code4lib Unconference and Coding Workshop

Connect with fellow code-interested cultural heritage professionals at two side-by-side events: a DC-area code4lib unconference and an introduction to programming workshop. The two events are intended to provide an inclusive, welcoming environment, supported by the DLF Code of Conduct. The schedule includes opportunities for the attendees in each track to meet each other, including a plenary opening session, shared lightning talks, Day 2 afternoon unconference events, and combined coffee/lunch/snack breaks.

August 11-12, 2014
Gelman Library, George Washington University
Washington, DC

Unconference: $10
Workshop: $50 ($25 for students or those in-between jobs)

For more information and to register, visit

These events are sponsored by the Digital Library Federation and the George Washington University Libraries.

Apply Now for iFellows Doctoral Fellowship Program

ifellowspitt.jpgThe University of Pittsburgh is accepting applications for its iFellows Doctoral Fellowship Program. The program will provide $50,000 two-year fellowships to iSchool PhD students to pursue independent research that supports the goals of the Coherence at Scale program. Coherence at Scale is a broad-based program aimed at coordinating and aggregating national-scale digital projects in order to promote the development of new technology environments to support advanced scholarship across disciplines.

Relevant research might include theoretical investigations of models of scalable infrastructure; distributed open repository design, linkage, and integration; scholarly workflow representation, capture, and reporting; or any of a number of other projects described at

Applicants must be enrolled at an iSchool member institution and must have completed (or will complete by December 31, 2014) all coursework required to develop their dissertation proposal.

The deadline for preproposals is July 31, 2014. For more information, including the call for proposals, with a link to the application and guidelines for submission, visit

Funding for the iFellows program is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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