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CLIR Issues Number 113

CLIR Issues
Number 113 • September/October 2016
ISSN 1944-7639 (online version)


An Evolving Continuity: CLIR at 60
A Memorial Tribute to Warren J. Haas
Announcing New Webinar Series: Strategies for Advancing Hidden Collections
CLIR Launches Recordings at Risk Grant Program
Apply Now for Leading Change Institute
Follow the Forum!

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Editor’s note: On September 18, 1956, the Board of the newly formed Council on Library Resources (CLR)—”designed to act as the initiator and coordinator of developments to improve the extent and use of library resources” —held its first meeting in New York City.

Sixty years later, we are pleased to celebrate this milestone with two special contributions to CLIR Issues. CLIR President Charles Henry considers the remarkable continuity of CLIR’s mission and significance of our achievements through six decades of change. Deanna Marcum, who served as CLIR president from 1995 to 2003, reflects on the particular achievements and legacy of CLR’s third president, Warren J. Haas, who passed away in September.

We look forward to sharing more of CLIR’s story in the year ahead and invite you to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, #clirat60.

An Evolving Continuity: CLIR at 60

—by Charles Henry

LogoB3_RGB copy.jpgWithin only two years of its founding in 1956, the Council on Library Resources (CLR) confronted a crisis of mission. The inaugural vision of CLR remained unquestioned: what this newly formed not-for-profit was meant to accomplish was easily articulated. The Council was to serve as a unique, unbiased, and rigorously managed organization to assist and guide the broader academic library community to better address and resolve contemporary matters of urgency. The impetus for that mission was a recognition that academic libraries in the post-World War II era had begun to aggressively compete, each striving to own the most books and journals, to build the largest staff, to expanded into bigger facilities. This competition created counterproductive cost inefficiencies and contributed to a lack of focus and dilution of effort to effectively address shared, core challenges. The founders of CLR firmly held that collective action and collaborative processes were necessary to resolve the looming complexities of academic information in the mid 1950s, which included multi-institutional collection sharing, large-scale preservation of deteriorating resources, and methods to manage the proliferation of new media as an aspect of cultural curation. Radio broadcasts, television, scientific data, microform and microfilm, moving images: all were bourgeoning and required thoughtful stewardship. Self-promotion as independent academic agents gained local notoriety but failed to suffice for problem solving at a national scale.

The crisis pertained to how CLR could most productively organize its resources to effect more-unified, cogent plans and procedures for the library community at large. The Board of Directors had divided into two camps: some thought that CLR should adopt an exclusively scholarly approach, serving as a source of research and exploration of these difficult challenges, and making recommendations based on this research. Practical new knowledge would be its chief product. Others felt that a more applied means of support for academic libraries was called for: identifying, and on occasion constructing, technologies to help solve the inconsistencies and idiosyncrasies that impeded functional capacity and provision of service. The solution to this bifurcated vision came about through the president of the Council, Verner Clapp, who believed that knowledge discovery and the promotion of technological improvements were not only compatible but essential to problem solving. The Council would pursue both of these as integral to its conceptual framework. This reconciliation seems to me the real birth and lasting legacy of what has become CLIR.

Collaboration, practical knowledge, and the promotion of technological solutions have informed our organization’s activities since inception. These themes were apparent in CLR’s 1996 merger with the Commission on Preservation and Access (CPA), which produced the Council on Library and Information Resources, now commonly referred to as CLIR. The Commission was founded in 1986 to promote collaboration among libraries and allied organizations to assure the preservation of and ongoing access to scholarly information. Its work focused on the challenge of preserving an unprecedented amount of analog, and then increasingly digital, resources of great value to scholarship and teaching. Its activities, like those of CLR, were grounded by an amalgam of highly respected research that invariably led to recommendations of sustained, collaborative adoption of standardized technologies and metadata schema for long-term accessibility.

The creation and development of the Digital Library Federation (DLF) was similarly framed. Inaugurated in 1996 by a consortium of library directors who recognized the challenges and opportunities of large-scale digital academic libraries, and the imperative to plan together for these new virtual resources to be cost effective and extensible, DLF today is a robust and diverse community of practitioners who advance research, learning, and the public good through digital library technologies. DLF serves as a resource and catalyst for collaboration among its institutional members. The DLF Forum has become a national institution for sharing ideas, best practices, and innovative design, bringing together an impressive cross section of higher education that includes research and liberal arts institutions, museums, archives, and other organizations of cultural curation.

Here we are, 60 years on, reflecting on a distinguished history and looking ahead as best one can in an era of tumult. At junctures like this it is natural to ask: is CLIR still essential? If so, why? Why should individuals and institutions support it? Not surprisingly, tensions that existed in 1956 remain in play, chief among them the competitive nature of higher education. Centuries of defining our institutions as separate, particular, and solitary retains great currency. Nonetheless, much has changed, and significantly so. Peering through time from their boardroom in 1956, the CLR directors would probably recognize CLIR in 2016, noting approvingly the continuity of core principles and mission, but pleasantly astonished at the programmatic enrichment that maturity can entail. What might they see?

A leader in adopting digital technology for knowledge organization. Recall that in 1956 the hard drive disk was invented; the first one employed by IBM was the size of two refrigerators. That year the first analog recording videotape became available for commercial use. Today the digital environment is an increasingly vital extension of higher education. CLIR assumed very early leadership in exploring and promoting digital technology as a transformational means of organizing academic knowledge. The Digital Library Federation, founded more than 20 years ago through CLIR as the first national program to rigorously research and collectively build large-scale virtual equivalents of print based libraries, continues to grow.

A significant increase in reach. With age comes accumulated wisdom, and an accrual of work over the decades that has literally spanned the planet. CLIR’s reach—the regions to which we have sent our fellows, awarded prizes, established cooperative ventures, and from which we have attracted students of our many programs, extends to almost every country on earth.

A greater diversity of collaborators. While the original focus of CLR was on the academic library community, our constituencies today include college and research libraries, but also archives, museums, historical societies, and national and international digital projects. We draw expertise and guidance from library professionals, IT experts, scholars, administrators, and entrepreneurs. Our affiliates, representing hundreds of organizations in addition to our sponsors and members, considerably enhance our understanding of the potential inherent in collective activities. These affiliated consortia include institutions promoting advanced curricula, new software and application development, and solutions to perennial shared challenges.

A more encompassing vision and mission. From its beginning to this day, CLIR has aspired to transform the information landscape to support the advancement of academic knowledge. Currently CLIR and DLF enjoy a unique position, building on the success of national- and international-scale projects such as Hidden Collections (cataloging and digitization), postdoctoral fellows in multidisciplinary fields, a vibrant DLF Forum, dissertation fellowships in original sources, and the Leading Change Institute; and on support of affiliates such as the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) consortium. Working on behalf of our constituency, we acknowledge our ability, and responsibility, to inculcate and influence the adoption of standards, best practices, flexible platforms, and other aspects of building a more coherent digital environment that thoughtfully responds to and augments the technical, cultural, and behavioral aspects of academe.

The pursuit of social justice. Last year the Digital Library Federation added the term social justice as a salient goal of its activities. The apotheosis of six decades of a guiding service ethos of CLR and CLIR, DLF embodies the certainty that all digital libraries and projects must strive to increase our capacity of understanding our world and ourselves, acknowledging the regenerative properties of an honest question, insisting that knowledge be accessible and open to all, while celebrating the sweep and depth of human curiosity.

Sixty years, from the perspective of the cultural institutions we serve, is young, almost nascent. We thus optimistically press on to form new coalitions, make new epistemological discoveries, advance and promulgate smart technological solutions: to sustain what has been built and to contribute resources, services, and insight as yet unimagined. Spring-like might be an apt metaphor—not just the prospect of an ongoing vernal greening, but analogous to the helical coil which, however pressed or pulled, returns to a recognizable version of its previous shape, exerting tension, absorbing motion; elastic in its evolution, firm in its continuity.


A Memorial Tribute to Warren J. Haas

—by Deanna Marcum

haas-2.jpgWarren J. (Jim) Haas, president of the Council on Library Resources (CLR) from 1978 through 1990, died on September 9, 2016 in Damariscotta, Maine, at the age of 92. Jim was the third president of CLR, coming to the position from Columbia University where he was vice president and university librarian. While librarian at Columbia, Haas was the first to recognize the strategic importance of combining library and information technology services for the benefit of scholarship and research. He knew that automation, then in the form of mainframe computing, would change the methods of scholarly communication, and he recognized that libraries were not well positioned to provide the new types of services that would soon be available. With grant funding from major foundations, Haas engaged the consulting firm Booz, Allen and Hamilton to help think through the library organizational structure of the future that would serve the needs of the academy. The formulation that combined scholarly resources and technological support changed the nature of research libraries for the next generation.

Jim Haas accepted the presidency of CLR with the view that research libraries needed to change, and throughout his tenure, he focused on those areas that he believed would be most needed in libraries of the future—preservation, the bibliographic apparatus of scholarship, education for new professionals that focused on new roles and responsibilities, library management, and leadership for the largest research organizations.

The Preservation Legacy

While at Columbia, Haas established the first preservation directorate in a research library. He had served as chair of the preservation committee of the Association of Research Libraries and organized a major survey of preservation conditions of research libraries’ collections. The findings were startling, and he recognized that research libraries, especially those in large, urban areas, were suffering severely from lack of climate control. He called for dramatic collaborative approaches to saving the recorded knowledge amassed in research libraries through coordinated microfilming efforts. Even more importantly, he was in a position as head of CLR to fund scientific investigations into the underlying causes of the preservation problem. He was the primary supporter of the Barrows Laboratory in Virginia that finally understood that acidic paper would destroy library collections. He understood the difficulty for individual institutions to justify the cost of preservation, so he worked on national efforts that would, in the aggregate, address the problem. In the mid-1980s, Haas created a separate organization, the Commission on Preservation and Access, that would focus exclusively on national preservation initiatives, and hired his successor at Columbia, Patricia Battin, to head the organization.

Educating Next-Generation Librarians

When Jim Haas began his work at CLR, there were more than 50 accredited schools of library and information science. Nearly all were small with limited capacity for providing the comprehensive course offerings needed to educate the new breed of librarians who were equally comfortable with bibliography and technology. An avid bird watcher in his leisure time, Haas named his task force to reform professional education PETREL—Professional Education and Training for Research Librarianship. Since most of the small educational programs covered generic topics, Haas worried that graduates of such programs were not sufficiently equipped to grapple with the complex library operations and processes of the research library. Grant funding to the University of Michigan resulted in the first two-year graduate program specifically focused on training professionals with more specialized skills. To prepare more sophisticated managers needed in research libraries, CLR funded an advanced certificate in library management offered by the University of Chicago Graduate Library School that featured both Business School and Library School courses.

Leadership for Research Libraries of the Future

To address the dearth of leadership necessary for the research library of the future, Haas funded two separate programs: one with a strong academic component and one based on an organizational apprenticeship model. The Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of California, Los Angeles received funding to operate a Senior Fellows Program, intended to prepare individuals who had recently assumed major administrative responsibilities to enhance their management skills. Working with leading library educators, the six-week residential program in current management issues was followed by a year-long individual research project. This program, in somewhat modified form, continues to this day, still producing a cadre of better-prepared library managers every two years. He also launched a CLR-sponsored year-long program that allowed individuals of exceptional promise to spend a year shadowing a recognized library leader. The CLR Fellows program gave them experience and exposure that equipped them to take on senior level administrative positions.

Card Catalogs to Digital Libraries

Jim Haas also recognized that automation would dramatically change library operations, and he envisioned libraries operating as nodes of a national infrastructure rather than each one operating as an island. Converting individual card catalogs to machine-readable records was the first step toward creating a national bibliographic structure. Working closely with the Library of Congress, CLR funded the development of Machine Readable Cataloging (MARC) code that allowed libraries across the nation and around the world to convert their card catalogs to online, shareable bibliographic records. This was the first step toward building the digital libraries that are developing today.

Personal Reflections

It would require many pages to describe all of the contributions Jim Haas made to the library profession. He created a commission to study deeply the brittle books problem. He created a high level task force on scholarly communication composed of academic administrators, scholars, and librarians. He established a Council of Foundations to bring leading funders of library innovation together, encouraging co-investment to solve the big problems. He successfully brought OCLC and the Research Libraries Group together to ensure that bibliographic records were broadly available to the library community. Over the years, dozens of people benefitted from the CLR Fellows Program, and research librarianship was bolstered, as well. He supported international initiatives, understanding that American research libraries must partner with other research libraries around the globe if scholars’ needs were to be met.

Jim Haas was also a mentor and great source of personal inspiration to a number of us who worked with him at Columbia or the Council. He encouraged younger librarians in his circle to take risks, to think more broadly, and to embrace both the challenges and opportunities of leadership.

In re-reading the annual reports of CLR as I prepared to write this tribute to Jim, I found a paragraph that sums up his view of the work ahead:

“We will all have to learn to cope with complexity—revisions of definitions of intellectual property, library financing, technology-based operations and services, shifts in organization and governance, dispersion of resources and users alike, information commercialization, and shifting lines of demarcation for disciplines and research activity are only some of the factors that are affecting libraries. At heart, the perception and definition of what a research library is and how it works must change—it must change in the minds not only of librarians but of faculty and university officers as well. In this new setting, libraries must be consciously and dramatically reshaped if they are to accomplish their long-established and still absolutely essential mission. The nature of that change cannot be left to chance.”[1]

His admonition is still relevant. All who worked with him, all who were touched by the programs and initiatives of CLR, and all who benefit every day from the more accessible digital library owe Jim Haas a debt of gratitude.


[1] Council on Library Resources, Inc., Thirtieth Annual Report. Washington, DC, 1986, p. 11.

Announcing New Webinar Series: Strategies for Advancing Hidden Collections

In January, CLIR will launch a new practical education project, Strategies for Advancing Hidden Collections (SAHC). The project includes six 90-minute webinars and an online resource library presenting techniques and best practices for increasing the visibility, usability, and sustainability of collections in the GLAM (Gallery, Library, Archive, and Museum) communities. The series will be especially relevant for organizations with limited funding and resources but will be applicable to all collecting institutions.

Drawing on lessons learned by teams awarded grants under CLIR’s Cataloging Hidden Collections program, webinars will cover the following topics:

  • Where to begin: Basics of project planning for GLAM organizations
  • Building resources and relationships: Determining what and who you need
  • Making the most of people: Recruitment, retention, and recognition
  • Collection access: Describing, cataloging, and processing with the future in mind
  • Overcoming project hurdles: Approaches to identifying and managing collection red flags
  • Closing the loop: Project assessment and leveraging goals for future planning

CLIR staff and the project’s curriculum committee developed program content on the basis of responses to a survey of individuals from academic, public, special, and government libraries; museums; historical societies; archives; and a small group of students. Survey respondents also reflected a broad spectrum of budgtets and staffing but primarily worked with budgets of less than $50,000 per year and with five or fewer paid staff.

The webinars will be held weekly on Wednesdays beginning the second week of January. Sessions will function as a series, but individuals can also attend single sessions. Live viewing will be limited to the first 100 attendees, but recordings will be made available shortly after the conclusion of each session. Registration for the webinars will open early in December 2016 as will access to the online resource library. Updates on the project will be posted on the CLIR website. To receive email notifications about SAHC and the Hidden Collections program, please click here to join our mailing list.

Both the Cataloging Hidden Collections program and the webinars are supported by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

CLIR Launches Recordings at Risk Grant Program

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded CLIR $2,725,000 for a regranting program to digitize “at risk” audio and audiovisual materials of high scholarly value. The program will run four competitions between January 2017 and September 2018, awarding a total of $2.3 million.

Audio and audiovisual recordings document vital, irreplaceable aspects of twentieth and twenty-first century life, but substantial proportions of this legacy will be lost because of the fragility and obsolescence of audio and audiovisual media. Digital reformatting is currently the best available solution for ensuring the survival and utility of recorded content in a variety of formats.

“Identifying top priorities for digitization of rare and unique recordings, as well as setting appropriate standards for the preservation of audio and audiovisual content in digital form, are of paramount importance for the current generation of cultural and information workers,” said CLIR Director of Research and Assessment Christa Williford. Williford and CLIR Director of Program Administration Amy Lucko will oversee the program’s operation.

To help develop guidelines and criteria for the new regranting program, CLIR will issue a pilot call for proposals, in partnership with the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC), in January 2017. The pilot call will focus only on the reformatting of magnetic audio media to be digitized through NEDCC’s newly implemented audio preservation service. NEDCC will assist with marketing the call for proposals and work closely with CLIR on advising applicants, but CLIR will convene an independent review panel to assess applications. After the review, CLIR will disburse a total of $150,000, in awards ranging from $5,000 to $25,000, to cover direct costs of audio reformatting services provided by NEDCC.

Following the initial competition for audio reformatting at NEDCC, CLIR will launch a series of three open competitions, disbursing $2.15 million in funds over two years. Calls for proposals will be issued in June 2017, December 2017, and May 2018. Awards from the open competitions will range from $10,000 to $50,000 and will cover direct costs of preservation reformatting for audio and audiovisual content by eligible institutions working independently or with qualified service providers. To make their determinations, CLIR’s review panel will assess the potential scholarly or public impact of proposed projects, the urgency of undertaking those projects, the viability of applicants’ plans for long-term preservation, and the overall cost-effectiveness of the proposals.

CLIR has long sought to raise awareness about the threats to audio and visual formats through its publications. A series of studies conducted over the past decade, several sponsored by the National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress, have addressed the legal and practical challenges affecting the preservation of audio content, culminating with The Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Plan. In 2015, CLIR published the ARSC Guide to Audio Preservation in partnership with the Association for Recorded Sound Collections and the Library of Congress.

“The preservation of audio recordings has been a focus of CLIR since its inception,” said CLIR President Charles Henry. “As we celebrate our 60th anniversary, this generous grant from the Mellon Foundation allows us to build on our experience to address the urgent problem of audio collections at risk.”

For more information on the program, visit


Apply Now for Leading Change Institute

The application period is now open for the 2017 Leading Change Institute, to be held in Washington, DC, June 11-16. Cosponsored by CLIR and EDUCAUSE, the week-long residential program brings together librarians, information technologists, and others who seek to further develop their skills for the benefit of higher education. Participants learn how to create a collaborative community that leads on critical issues, develop the skills to advocate for needed change, and engage with real-world issues.

Joanne Kossuth and Elliott Shore will continue to serve as deans of the 2017 Institute. Speakers will include:

  • Richard Culatta, chief innovation officer, State of Rhode Island
  • Jack Dunn, director, news and public affairs, Boston College

The application deadline is 5 pm ET on Friday, January 13, 2017. Visit for more information and to apply.


Follow the Forum!

We’re less than two weeks away from our largest DLF Forum yet. Nearly 700 attendees will join us in Milwaukee for the Forum and affiliated events, including DLF’s Liberal Arts Colleges Preconference, NDSA’s Digital Preservation 2016, a DLF-sponsored Ally Skills Workshop, and the Taiga Forum. Follow along on Twitter with #DLFforum, #dlfLAC, and #digipres16. Check out community note-taking documents at And stay tuned: select sessions will be streamed and recorded!

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