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CLIR Issues Number 106

CLIR Issues
Number 106 • July/August 2015
ISSN 1944-7639 (online version)


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CLIR Appoints Michael F. Suarez Distinguished Presidential Fellow

suarez.jpgMichael F. Suarez, S.J., university professor of English and director of the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia (UVA), has been appointed CLIR Distinguished Presidential Fellow. At UVA, Suarez leads the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography and is also honorary curator of the university’s special collections. He has held research fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. In July, President Obama nominated him to the National Council on the Humanities, the advisory board for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

As a presidential fellow, Suarez will provide expert counsel and strategic advice for CLIR’s Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives program and its Postdoctoral Fellowship program. “These programs represent a pivotal translation of traditional print and analog resources of our cultural heritage to digital versions and instances,” notes CLIR President Chuck Henry. “Michael’s insight and acumen will be an essential contribution to this translation, a contribution that assists in developing sophisticated correlations between the original material and its virtual surrogate.”

“In practical terms, there is no access to data without metadata,” Suarez observed. “Over many years, CLIR’s Cataloging Hidden Collections project has made an enormous contribution to the community by ensuring that our cultural heritage in libraries, archives, and museums is more discoverable than ever. Now, the Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives program will make rare materials available to the public in innovative and exciting ways that will not only contribute to our understandings of the objects themselves, but also foster advances in digital capture, curation, delivery, and preservation. I am delighted to be working with Chuck Henry, his remarkable team, and the CLIR postdoctoral fellows, especially at this liminal moment in the creation of libraries and archives for the twenty-first century.”

Suarez is co-editor of The Oxford Companion to the Book (2010), a million-word reference work on the history of manuscripts, books, and born-digital materials from the invention of writing to the present day. He co-edited two books published in 2014: The Book: A Global History, with H. R. Woudhuysen, and a scholarly edition of The Dublin Notebook of Gerard Manley Hopkins, with L. J. Higgins. A Jesuit priest, Suarez is currently co-general editor of The Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins and editor-in-chief of Oxford Scholarly Editions Online.

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.

Workshop to Focus on Planning for Openlab

A workshop, planned for this winter, will bring together a group of humanities-oriented practitioners, funders, and public stakeholders to explore the viability of Openlab, a new concept envisioned to help galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAMs) use technology to achieve greater public impact.

Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the workshop is a collaborative effort between CLIR and the NEH, in partnership with the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), American Library Association (ALA), and the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). Additional support from the Digital Library Federation (DLF) and other organizations has also been secured. Digital strategist and CLIR Distinguished Presidential Fellow Michael Peter Edson will lead and facilitate the workshop.

The workshop will consider the tactics, goals, and underlying vision of the Openlab concept. An open and public unconference (a focused, practical convening in which the agenda is set by participants) and a session of short Ignite talks (energetic, 5-minute presentations designed to maximize the sharing of high-impact ideas) will be held in conjunction with the workshop.

Openlab is founded on the premise that GLAMs are critical institutions to science, culture, and the humanities and are vital stewards of materials used by researchers, teachers, students, and the broader American public. Technology has provided GLAMs with new ways to engage with audiences and increase the scale and impact of their work, but not all GLAMs are well equipped with the resources or expertise to fully leverage digital technologies. Openlab is envisioned as a public solutions lab and consultancy designed to address these challenges and drive change. Once established, Openlab would seek to accelerate the spread of digital technologies in GLAMs by positioning itself as a hub for the field, and a forceful advocate that supports institutions big and small.

Openlab has established a wiki to communicate its findings and strategies to organizations such as small museums and historic sites, enabling their capacity to use digital technology more effectively.

As plans progress, updates with more information about the workshop, unconference, and Ignite talks will be available at and via Twitter at @CLIRNews and @CLIRDLF.

pub166cover.jpgReport Explores Revitalization and Sustainability of Library Publishing

A recent report from CLIR, The Once and Future Publishing Library, explores the revitalization of library publishing and its possible future, and examines elements that influence the success and sustainability of library publishing initiatives.

Authors Ann Okerson, of the Center for Research Libraries, and Alex Holzman, of Alex Publishing Solutions, trace the history of library publishing and factors that have transformed the publishing landscape, including changes in technology and the publishing economy, a desire for open access, and the challenges of balancing institutional priorities. The authors describe several significant library-press collaborations forged over the past two decades. Although some remain robust, others have been discontinued for a variety of reasons, including the lack of a sustainable business plan.

The authors conducted a survey to better understand how current library publishing activities are supported financially. They found that more than 90% of respondents rely on a combination of the library budget, funds from the parent institution, and grants; only about 7% charge end users for any of their materials. Ninety-three percent of respondents reported that their parent institution does not require their publishing programs to break even. The authors note that “current library programs seem confident that they are funded sufficiently to maintain what they are doing” but they will require further funding to expand.

The report concludes with a series of lessons learned about publishing initiatives in American academic libraries. They include the importance of leadership, the need to be part of the institutional mission and discourse, the importance of marketing, and the benefits of maintaining a long-term vision “without looking for next-quarter results.” Perhaps most importantly, the authors found no pattern showing which organizational structures are more effective than others in sustaining library publishing. They conclude that “work in library publishing is so diverse and innovative that success is much more a function of the quality of the initial idea and the energy and talent brought to bear on its realization than it is a matter of organizational structure.”

An extensive bibliography as well as detailed results of the library publishing survey are provided as appendixes to the report.

The report is available as a PDF download free of charge at

The report was supported with funding from the Goodall Family Charitable Foundation.

Five Questions with Oliver Bendorf

Earlier this month, the CLIR staff welcomed Oliver Bendorf as Digital Library Federation (DLF) program associate. Amidst preparations for the upcoming DLF Forum, he took time to answer a few questions from CLIR Issues Editor Kathlin Smith.

oliver.jpgYou have a background in English Literature and an MFA in Creative Writing. What made you decide to pursue an MLIS?

It began for me as a part-time job during the last semester of my MFA—it was at the main academic library at UW Madison. The humanities liaison librarian there was looking for someone who could work part-time on some projects—varied things. So I applied and started working there, and really quickly discovered that it was going to be so much more than a part-time job. The word that she [the liaison] used was “jobby” to describe her work (which was job hobby, for her level of interest in it) and that’s what it became for me, too. I discovered that librarianship could be a way to spend time with these things that I loved—specifically, working with the Little Magazine Collection there, which is one of the special collections at Wisconsin. It is full of literary magazines, art book objects, zines, and all the things that I love to read but would never be able to subscribe to on my own. So I got to check them in weekly, carry them from one shelf to another, and blog about them (at I loved that. And I realized the extent to which librarianship was involved in that. So that was kind of eye-opening for me, especially because the MFA doesn’t really lead to a career path. I was trying to figure out where I wanted to go, and I started thinking library school.

While working on your MLIS, you served as editor-at-large for dh+lib, and wrote a digital humanities research guide. What are a few of the ways you’ve experimented with digital methods in your own work?

One thing I did at Wisconsin was to participate in this day called the Humanities Hackathon, and that brought together people from a wide array of disciplines to learn R and hack around on our own projects but spend time together in this room collaborating. I can’t say I totally got the hang of R, but I could master exactly one command of it, and it was the command for recombination. I felt frustrated that I couldn’t totally figure out what I was supposed to be learning with R, so I decided to write a poem in it and then run this recombinatory command that was the one I knew how to do. It spat me out this cool riff on the poem I’d written, but in this scrambled order that I actually really liked and ended up publishing in a journal later and also illustrating. It felt like a failure, sort of, in the moment, but also seemed like exactly what the hackathon day was for, to hack my way into a happy accident.

I worked on a lot of projects during my MLIS that were thinking through the relationship between print and digital, which is something I’m really interested in. One of those projects was to experiment with alternatives to PowerPoint that were actually painted slides, so I hand painted a conference presentation that I gave, and called it PowerPaint and tried to see how far I could take that theory. It was fun to experiment with thinking about creative practice, like painting and drawing, as new kinds of scholarly communication and thinking about what the role for analog art might be with information visualization. I also taught a ‘zine workshop at the Wisconsin iSchool from the approach of ‘zines as instructional technologies.

What attracted you to apply to the DLF?

It seemed like a place that not only allows people to wear many hats, but encourages it. One thing was that my background and interests are a little all over the place, and it makes sense to me that there are threads, but those threads don’t neatly fall into a straightforward role like STEM librarian, or something like that. The interdisciplinarity that seems to be so valued here felt like it would be a good match, and DLF seemed like a place where I could make meaningful and varied contributions, and learn a lot, including from the small, brilliant staff.

You’re currently in the thick of preparations for the DLF Forum. How is that going, and what should people know about the Forum?

It’s very exciting. The sheer growth of it from last year is pretty amazing, and speaks to a deep interest and need. I’m really excited to be part of thinking about how to keep growing, while still keeping it community oriented. It will be the first Forum outside the US. For me, it will be a way to meet a lot of the DLF community and practitioners and who the people are who have a stake in DLF.

What do you look forward to working on after the Forum?

Next year’s Forum, of course! Having just moved from Wisconsin, I like that the DLF community will descend on Milwaukee in 2016.

One thing I’m really excited to work on, being fresh out of iSchool, is to learn more about ways the DLF might support that community (students who are in iSchools now), who are in that early stage of their professional development but who will go on to become the digital library workforce. I’m hoping to attend the iSchool Consortium conference in March, and to foster more connections between grad students and DLF. I also look forward to supporting a revision to the DLF website, helping to make more visible the depth and breadth of work the DLF is doing, not all of which is currently reflected on the website.

Probably I could say this any year and it would be true, but it feels like a prime time to have joined the CLIR/DLF team. I’m looking forward to bringing what I love about community building and creativity to the DLF mission!

DLF Welcomes Museum Members

—by Bethany Nowviskie

In 2014, with the generous support of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Digital Library Federation (DLF) welcomed four highly accomplished museum practitioners to the annual DLF Forum, in a new program for Museum Cross-Pollinator Fellows. After last year’s great success, we’re excited that once again the Kress Foundation will kindly support the DLF in offering fellowships for practicing museum professionals who seek more exposure to trends and technologies in digital libraries. We recently announced the names of our 2015 Museum Cross-Pollinator Fellows, and can’t wait to welcome them to the Forum and hear their thoughts about the experience.

But we’ve decided it’s time to go further. DLF members strongly value the work of our museum colleagues as educators, creative thinkers, and protectors of cultural heritage and the public good. As platforms and technologies evolve, boundaries between the work of library and museum professionals continue to blur, and global crises and challenges remind us of our shared mission.

In order to learn how we can strengthen alliances and better serve the museum world, the DLF and Kress are once again banding together. We’re pleased to announce that we are subsidizing an introductory year of DLF membership to the Dallas Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC), which includes the libraries and archives of the Brooklyn Museum, The Frick Collection, and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

In addition to their participation in the DLF Forum, representatives of these organizations will engage in a series of continuing conversations with DLF staff over the next year, to inform us about how to better engage and support museums and museum libraries. Louisa Kwasigroch, CLIR’s director of development and outreach, is fostering this initiative on behalf of the DLF. Look to for updates in the months to come.

Apply Now to Host Postdoctoral Fellows in Data Curation for the Sciences and Social Sciences, Medieval Studies

CLIR is seeking academic libraries, data centers, or other research institutions interested in hosting 2016-2018 postdoctoral fellows. Fellows work on projects that forge and strengthen connections among library collections, educational technologies, and current research.

CLIR is soliciting hosts for three tracks within the Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. Funding arrangements for each track vary:

  • Postdoctoral Fellowships in Data Curation for the Sciences and Social Sciences, particularly software curation, are designed by hosts who apply to the program and are selected by CLIR; educational benefits are funded by CLIR, partial salary support for fellows in software curation funded by CLIR.
  • Postdoctoral Fellowships in Data Curation for Medieval Studies are designed by hosts who apply to the program and are selected by CLIR; CLIR pays full salaries for fellows.
  • Postdoctoral Fellowships in Academic Libraries are open to any discipline. Fellowships are designed and funded by hosts, who also pay fees to CLIR to cover the costs of fellows’ education.

Full program information is available at

Questions may be addressed to Senior Program Officer Alice Bishop,,

Planning Underway for the 2016 DLF eResearch Network

by Rita Van Duinen

Planning is now underway for DLF eResearch Network activities in 2016. Launched in 2014, the eResearch Network is a cohort-based learning and peer mentoring experience focused on research data management services (RDMS). Teams of participants from academic and research libraries analyze and implement RDMS at their own institutions, develop skills, make professional and personal connections, and join the DLF in creating a self-reliant, mutually supportive community engaged in continuous learning about e-research support.

As eResearch Network members, institutional teams are given formal and informal opportunities for networking, resource sharing, and collaboration, as well as access to structured curricula, webinars, and personalized consultation. Through in-person meetings and virtual learning activities and experiences, the DLF is building an active and growing community of practice.

Network members come from colleges and universities of varying size. To date, 13 institutions from across the United States and Canada have participated in the eResearch Network. Some of their accomplishments are outlined on the DLF website.

A successor to the ARL/DLF/DuraSpace E-Science Institute, which helped institutions develop a strategic agenda for e-research support, the DLF eResearch Network turns its focus to cultivating a community of practice for institutions to mentor one another through the process of implementing e-research and data management services in libraries. It aims to capitalize on the existing knowledge base and build skills collaboratively. E-Science Institute alumni are an integral part of building the eResearch Network community of practice as many of them are part of the larger CLIR E-Science/E-Research online community to which information and opportunities for collaboration are shared.

A recent article in ASIS&T’s Bulletin describes the events of this year’s eResearch Network as members held their kick-off meeting in conjunction with the 2015 RDAP Summit. Having network members meet in person, early on in the cohort experience and then attend the conference together provided a sense of community as members listened and learned throughout two days of programming.

Expressions of interest in the 2016 DLF eResearch Network cohort are currently being accepted. Want to join or learn more? Let us know!

The 2016 cohort is projected to run from May through November. Tuition fees, key dates, and instructional faculty will be forthcoming. Teams participating from DLF member institutions will receive a discount on program costs.

Forthcoming Publications

  • The Process of Discovery: The CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and the Future of the Academy, John C. Maclachlan, Elizabeth A. Waraksa, and Christa Williford, eds. (September)
  • Building Expertise to Support Digital Scholarship: A Global Perspective, by Vivian Lewis, Lisa Spiro, Xuemao Wang, and Jon E. Cawthorne (September)
  • Proceedings of the CLIR Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives Symposium, March 2015. Cheryl Oestreicher, ed. October 2015.

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