CLIR Issues Number 112

CLIR Issues
Number 112 • July/August 2016
ISSN 1944-7639 (online version)


Technology in Liberal Education: Identifying Needs and Opportunities
Programs Available for DLF Forum, Liberal Arts Preconference, and DigiPres2016
Report Examines Federal Public Access Plans and Their Implications for the Cultural Heritage Community
Meet our Visual Studies Fellows
CLIR and DLF Sign Library Digital Privacy Pledge
Welcome New Staff
Apply Now: Mellon Fellowships for Dissertation Research, Rovelstad Scholarship

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Technology in Liberal Education: Identifying Needs and Opportunities

Given constant shifts in technology and the changing landscape of higher education, what are the current needs related to information technology and liberal education? A new CLIR white paper identifies those needs by examining the evolution and accomplishments of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE) and consulting current stakeholders in the liberal arts community. The white paper suggests ways to serve those needs in an efficient, sustainable manner.

172-cover-border.jpgNITLE was created in 2001 to “stimulate collaboration between selected liberal arts colleges and to act as a catalyst for the effective integration of emerging and newer digital technologies into teaching, learning, scholarship, and information management.” In July 2015, NITLE migrated its operations from Southwestern University to CLIR. In conjunction with this migration, CLIR initiated an analysis of NITLE’s current state and the needs of its constituents.

Six consultants, all current or former CLIR Postdoctoral Fellows, conducted the assessment, which drew on historical records, interviews with NITLE stakeholders, and a survey of the broader community of professionals in technology and liberal education, to develop the following recommendations for any entity seeking to serve constituents similar to those served by NITLE:

  • Maintain a liberal arts focus.
  • Do market research to determine how a future organization should support members at the local or national level, or both. Such research could identify gaps that might best be addressed through regional initiatives, and those that require national coordination.
  • Clearly articulate the organization’s mission, primary audience, and value proposition. Pay particular attention to whether faculty members will be a key part of the audience.
  • Ensure that membership fees are in line with members’ perceived return on investment. Have a robust and well-communicated business plan.
  • Develop a culture of ongoing assessment to demonstrate the return on investment for members.
  • Communicate regularly with members.
  • Distinguish the organization from others with a similar audience or mission.

Several members of the assessment team will present their findings at the Digital Library Federation (DLF) Liberal Arts Colleges Preconference in Milwaukee on Sunday, November 6. CLIR looks forward to this opportunity to share and discuss the findings with the liberal arts community and explore next steps.

Programs Available for DLF Forum, Liberal Arts Preconference, and DigiPres 2016

Programs are now available for

All three conference programs are available to browse now!

We hope you’ll join us in Milwaukee this November, to hear exciting keynote and plenary talks by Jarrett Drake (#dlfLAC), Stacie Williams (#DLFforum), and Bergis Jules and Allison Druin (#digipres16). (See our keynote roundup here.) We’ll also honor winners of DLF’s Community Capacity Awards and Forum fellowships, as well as 2016 NDSA Innovation Award winners!

DLF will additionally sponsor or host a number of affiliated events alongside the Forum, including the Taiga Forum, an Ally Skills Workshop brought to you by the DLF Project Managers interest group, and more.

Registration is open, and spaces are going fast. If you will be away from home for our events on Election Day, please plan ahead! Full, non-partisan, state-by-state absentee voting information is available here.

Report Examines Federal Public Access Plans and Their Implications for the Cultural Heritage Community

New U.S. government requirements for exposing and managing federally funded research data add urgency to the call for curating data that can be used, reused, and exploited by future generations. The Open Data Imperative: How the Cultural Heritage Community Can Address the Federal Mandate, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), offers a series of recommendations to improve the open data infrastructure, engage a broad community of stakeholders to support the management of data as an asset, and expand collaboration that is vital to ensuring public access to data.

cover.pngIn 2013, the U.S. government issued a mandate requiring federal agencies with annual research and development expenditures of more than $100 million to create plans for increasing access to federally funded scientific research, both as published articles and as data. These plans have significant implications for cultural heritage institutions in addressing the current deficit in the capacity to support the re-use of data over time and across generations of technology (digital curation) and in enabling collaboration based on shared infrastructure.

In Part I of the report, Suzie Allard presents an analysis of 21 federal agency public access plans that were openly available as of late 2015. Allard, associate dean for research in the College of Communication and Information and professor in the School of Information Sciences at The University of Tennessee, provides 12 high-level findings grouped around open data infrastructure, roles and responsibilities, and making data public. These findings, she writes, “suggest that the mandate has created opportunities for cultural heritage institutions to both build upon and contribute to the infrastructure being developed by the federal agencies.”

Providing public access to data requires effective digital curation strategies. In Part II, Christopher Lee reports on interviews with project staff from seven recent IMLS-funded projects that included significant digital curation objectives to identify lessons about skills, capabilities, and institutional arrangements that can facilitate digital curation activities. Lee is professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

A skilled workforce is essential if the promise of public access to data is to be fulfilled. In Part III, Nancy Y. McGovern, who is responsible for preservation at MIT Libraries, surveys curriculum development and training programs relating to digital curation, examines digital curation competencies, and analyzes job descriptions for digital curation to identify the skills and roles they entail.

“The cumulative results, findings, and recommendations of this report provide a holistic view of data stewardship and the infrastructure required to support data-driven research and innovation,” writes CLIR Senior Program Officer Alice Bishop, who co-authored the report.

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

Meet our Visual Studies Fellows

—by Lizzi Albert

Last September, CLIR’s cohort of five data curation fellows in visual studies took up residence at their host institutions. During their two-year appointments, the fellows are charged with addressing the challenges of mining, expressing, and preserving the data in images and image-based media. The variety of the visual studies fellows’ projects over the past year demonstrates the value of visual data curation across a range of disciplines.

Fellows’ Projects

Postdoctoral fellow Ed Triplett is at Duke University working with the Wired! Lab and Trinity Technology Services to help find solutions for web mapping projects, 3D modeling projects, and other digital art history research. He has used the data from his digital mapping project as a way to test some of the technologies he hopes to make available for students, staff, and faculty at Duke. He has also worked with an archaeological excavation in Sicily of an archaic Greek site, Cittadella. Working with graduate students, he used low aerial photogrammetry to capture 3D data and create a data management plan that will aid the project when excavation is renewed next year.

Kyle Parry, who was at the University of Rochester, has been working on Visualizing the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (VEVOS), a multi-modal project that includes both photographic and video components, as well as an extensive metadata schema and a web framework for presenting the images.

Melissa Dinsman, of the University of Notre Dame, recently led a team of collaborators from Temple and Bucknell to create a pilot platform, Reading Cities, which enables scholars and students to digitally augment texts. “Using F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘May Day,’ our goal was to enrich the text for students through the inclusion of multimedia annotations,” Dinsman explains. The platform invites the user to click on a map of New York and jump to the part of Fitzgerald’s story that takes place in that part of the city; most text passages also include additional multimedia annotations, such as photographs, newsreel footage, and images of historical documents.

Jaquelyn Clements, at the University of Toronto, recently taught a data visualization workshop to graduate students that covered broader skills. She used it as “an opportunity to develop a few mini-test cases of my own to present and walk through with the students so they could learn not only about visualization tools but the process of gathering data and the difficulties inherent in it.”

Dimitrios Latsis, visual studies fellow at the Internet Archive, is helping to build an archive of vintage educational films from a variety of sources. These films range from anti-drug after-school specials from the 1970s, such as Reading, Writing, and Reefer (1979), to Diagnostic Procedures in Tuberculosis (1940), sponsored by the National Tuberculosis Association and aimed at medical practitioners, to Democracy in Education, produced by the Ford Motor Company in 1922.

Challenges and Opportunities

Among the challenges and opportunities for the fellows is that in many cases their institutions are still building the digital infrastructure to preserve and exhibit visual materials. Clements is providing advice about the future of imaging services in her department at the University of Toronto. She conducted a survey to gauge how the faculty and graduate students use FADIS (Toronto’s management and courseware system for image-based teaching), and is developing a series of workshops for faculty and graduate students that address issues of image use.

Dinsman, for her part, points out that because the digital exhibits platform at Notre Dame is a work in progress, she has had the opportunity to tell the design team what features she needs. “This ability to customize early on is great,” she says.

Latsis compares the challenges for visual studies with those faced by the digital humanities (DH) in general. “An initial problem for DH was that the existing set of tools applied mostly to the sciences and so new ones had to be developed (or existing ones adapted),” he says. “Within DH however, we are faced with a similar conundrum where a lot of tools exist for text-related projects but very few for visual ones (and even fewer that can accommodate time-based media). It’s this I see as a key preoccupation of my work as a fellow.”

Duke’s digital art history lab, Wired!, has the ability to generate vast amounts of data, from high-resolution maps to 3D models to relational databases. The primary challenge there, says Triplett, “is making [visual materials] visible and functional on the web…We can become accustomed to seamlessly sifting, manipulating and layering huge amounts of visual data on our screens, but this same data has to be aggressively and cleverly optimized before it can be shared on the web.”

Triplett and Parry both welcome the collaborative opportunities in their fellowships. Parry finds value in the collaboration between librarians and scholars. “The writing, arrangement, and dissemination of metadata—this can be a shared problem space. Librarians and scholars meet in a ‘trading zone,’ to use Peter Galison’s term,” he says. “Divergent local and global conceptions, while certainly obstacles, also become sources of invention.” Triplett’s photogrammetry expertise has brought him into contact with classicists and archaeologists. “I am not an archaeologist, and my specialization is on medieval architecture, rather than the ancient world,” he says, “but because of the flexibility of my position, I can join an archaeology field school at Morgantina and watch people’s eyes light up when they see how a mapping, photogrammetry or 3d modeling project could yield new discoveries for them.”

More information on CLIR’s postdoctoral fellows is available here. Kyle Parry will start a new position at the University of California Santa Cruz as an assistant professor of History of Art and Visual Culture in the fall; University of Rochester appointed a new fellow, Iskandar Zulkarnain, in July.

CLIR and DLF Sign Library Digital Privacy Pledge

CLIR and DFL have joined a growing list of organizations—libraries, publishers, library vendors, and library organizations—in endorsing the Library Freedom Project’s Library Digital Privacy Pledge. We are improving privacy for library users by implementing secure (HTTPS) protocols on our web services and asking partners to do likewise. The pledge incorporates variations for libraries, publishers, and membership organizations.

As noted on Library Freedom Project’s website:

“Websites that do not use secure protocols, such as HTTPS, expose their users to surveillance and intrusion in the network. A wifi or cellphone user who connects to an insecure library or publisher website makes every click visible to the wifi or cellphone provider, or to others connected to the same network. Content can be inspected and altered by every node participating in the user’s connection. The resulting lack of privacy and security is incompatible with the ethics and values of libraries. In the past few years, while Google, Facebook, Amazon, and the United States federal government have worked to implement HTTPS on all their web sites, the Let’s Encrypt certificate authority has made secure infrastructure available to even the smallest web site.”

To add your organization to the list or get more information, email the Library Freedom Project at pledge(at)libraryfreedomproject(dot)org.

Welcome New Staff!

CLIR is delighted to welcome the following new staff members:

Katherine-Kim_Photo-150x150.jpgDLF Program Associate Katherine S. Kim comes to us from the Modern Language Association’s Office of Scholarly Communication, where she has most recently served as assistant acquisitions edtior, shepherding more than 40 print and digital projects from proposal to publication. Read more at

Becca-Quon-1-150x150.jpgDLF Program Associate Rebecca Quon is a recent graduate of the MLS program at the University of Maryland iSchool, concentrating in archives, records, and information management. While at UMD, she completed a number of museum, library, and government agency internships in digital/archival collections and data curation. Read more at

Rabun.jpgSheila Rabun, appointed communications and coordination officer of the International Image Interoperability Framework community (, will work under the direction of Tom Cramer and Michael Keller at Stanford. Rabun will focus on coordinating the growing suite of IIIF activities, facilitating communication within and beyond the community about IIIF matters, and helping institutions, software developers, and individual users make the most of the framework. Rabun has a background in digital humanities and digital libraries, most recently as the digital project manager and interim director of the University of Oregon Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Center. Read more at

Apply Now: Mellon Fellowships for Dissertation Research, Rovelstad Scholarship

Mellon Fellowships for Dissertation Research in Original Sources. Fellowships support dissertation research in the humanities or related social sciences in original sources. About 15 fellowships are awarded annually, each providing a stipend of $2,000 per month for periods ranging from 9-12 months, between June 2017 and August 2018. Applications must be received by 5 pm Eastern time on Friday, December 2, 2016. For more information on the fellowships and a link to the online application form, click here. Fellowships are supported with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Rovelstad Scholarship in International Librarianship 2017. The scholarship provides funding for a student of library and information science to attend the World Library and Information Congress of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). The 2017 IFLA annual meeting will take place in Wrocław, Poland, August 19–25. Complete applications must be submitted using CLIR’s online application form by January 27, 2017.