Number 128 March/April 2019
ISSN 1944-7639 (online version)
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Pangia: A Global Interoperable Affiliation of Digital Libraries
—By Charles Henry
Over the last four years, many large-scale digital libraries across the world have undertaken cooperative exchanges of information and discovery. These include Europeana, Trove, Tainacan, the National Digital Library of India, the National Diet Library of Japan, DigitalNZ, Canadiana, National Digital Library of China, National Digital Library of Korea, the Qatar National Library digital programs, the Digital Public Library of America, and the Digital Library of the Middle East. The exchanges have informed the conviction that it is now appropriate to formalize these relationships, to allow for a more structured, accelerated exchange of information that will result in a planetary-scale digital library that federates metadata and promotes the management, sustainability, and augmentation of these projects as a collectively engineered, interoperable system.
CLIR, in service to and in partnership with these distinguished efforts, has designated Pangia as the program and product of shared knowledge, technical platform design, and governance to instantiate a global digital library of digital libraries, ensuring long-term cooperation and significantly reduced cost appropriate to a universal good.
The term Pangia is a play on the geological term Pangaea, an ancient supercontinent: a coherence of all present-day continents into a single landmass (approximately 335 to 175 million years ago). The i in Pangia represents “information,” and the appropriated term signifies the desire and feasibility of virtually coalescing current and future digital library projects. The characteristics and features of each digital library would be preserved; the content specific to each would remain the responsibility of the country, region, or organization of origin. When viewed, however, through the lens of Pangia all would appear to be relational aspects of a global whole, providing an unprecedented ecosystem for research, teaching, new discovery, and the enrichment of human capacity.
The Cognitive Strategy
Pangaea represents the creative power and inference that characterize the discipline of geology, and the methodology of geology is critical to the success of Pangia. To think like a geologist is to recognize extremely long timescales that categorize the various eras of Earth’s evolution. This perspective requires understanding our world as a non-static, at times astonishingly dynamic planet that continues to evolve.
Working within these vast eras of geochronology, geology applies “scholarly habits one associates with the study of literature and the arts—the practice of close reading, sensitivity to allusion and analogy; capacity for spatial visualization” with an attendant rigorous inferential and imaginative logic (Bjornerud 2018). These learned ways of knowing, which are core to both humanistic and scientific inquiry, suit an enterprise like Pangia, which is transdisciplinary and must be planned to respond effectively and productively to the intricacies of human curiosity.
Broad guidelines that frame Pangia’s vision include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, specifically articles 26 and 27:
(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
Pangia is also shaped by elements of IFLA’s Global Vision:
—We are dedicated to equal and free access of information and knowledge. (1)
—We remain deeply committed to supporting literacy, learning, and reading. (2)
—We embrace digital innovation. (4)
—We see the need to build collaborations and partnerships. (7)
—We are guardians of the memory of the world. (9)
The Context of Climate
The project is further contextualized, with attendant urgency, as a response to the threats of climate change. Worldwide cooperation with attendant efficiencies of scale and cost is intuitively attractive; this coalition of effort is now catalyzed by the predicted, often devastating loss of our human and natural heritage due to dramatic and increasingly harsh shifts in the global climate. The loss includes erasures of our culture, including languages, built environments, and plastic artifacts; significant diminishing of diversity of species; loss of scientific and other research data that are crucial to better understanding and resolving our predicament; and the massive displacement of humanity and the loss of individual freedom of movement, access to education, and loss of personal property and over time personal history it represents.
Pangia will attempt to capture as many of these threatened aspects of our planet as is feasible. While initially a project that logically focuses on large-scale national and international efforts, Pangia will be designed to allow for easily federated data and information from small, obscure, and remote digital projects, such as field studies; archeological sites; linguistic repositories; data repositories and individual laboratory files; records of extinction; native and indigenous archives; and histories of refugees. In this respect Pangia will serve as a universally accessible record of life on Earth through a global community of contributors, a robust and ever-augmented chronicle of what is passing, what has passed and—as a platform for advanced research, new forms of human expression, and sophisticated modeling—what may come.
Shared benefits of a global-scale digital library can be calculated in contrast with hundreds, or more accurately thousands, of projects, working independently. The affordances of cooperative execution should include a more cost-effective development and correlation of ongoing development, increased standardization, a shared data model, greater rights coordination, and shared methodologies of search and discovery, with an especially strong ability to facilitate interdisciplinary queries. Over time, the sheer scale of Pangia will provide an unprecedented database for artificial intelligence applications, pattern recognition, deep learning, and new search capabilities.
A Phased Project
Phase One, now initiated, entails a proof of concept and includes responses to topics of general interest: exchanging best practices in each organization, identifying mechanisms to achieve interoperability between continental and national digital libraries, articulation of the features of the digital platform, identifying usability issues in different parts of the world, and defining the challenges of sustainability and models of budgeting and sustainability. We are currently working with our partners to identify their key areas of research interest in order to assign work that, when aggregated, can conduce to a comprehensive plan of short- and long-term execution.
Phase One, if successful, is expected to conclude in 2020 with an announcement of the intent to build Pangia and a declaration of its goals and rationale. New Zealand has agreed to host this culminating meeting and declaration. A successful inaugural summit was recently held in the Hague, cosponsored by Europeana and the Center for Research Libraries (CRL). An intermediate meeting will be hosted in Doha in 2019.
Phase Two will commence thereafter, building out Pangia and initiating its focus on preserving and making accessible cultural heritage threatened by climate change.
A Call to Action
The message to our partners, our broader constituencies, and the world is not think big but act big, and act soon to build something extraordinary and lasting. Pangia is a system and an environment, a virtual place wherein knowledge is not stacked but flows, coursing over time and regional space, agnostic to borders: a notional landscape tended as the antithesis of haphazard, yet responsive to the most playful ingenuity. Pangia will become more intricate and searching by virtue of our questions, mirroring our interdependency in a world at variance and increasingly roiled.
Bjornerud, Marcia. 2018. Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World. Princeton University Press.
Forum, DigiPres Keynote Speakers Announced
DLF today announced keynote speakers for the 2019 DLF Forum and the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA) Digital Preservation 2019 conference.
Alison Langmead will open the 2019 Digital Preservation conference with a keynote titled “Sustainability Is Not Preservation.” Langmead will discuss her experiences collaboratively producing the NEH-funded Socio-Technical Sustainability Roadmap at the Visual Media Workshop at the University of Pittsburgh, and lessons learned this past year from workshop experiences with more than one hundred people in six locations across the United States. Langmead holds a joint faculty appointment at the University of Pittsburgh between the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Computing and Information.
The DLF Forum will be held October 14–16 in Tampa, Florida. NDSA’s Digital Preservation 2019 opens the afternoon of October 16 and runs through the following day. Learn@DLF, a daylong workshop, will precede the Forum on October 13.
CLIR Names 2019 Mellon Dissertation Fellows
Sixteen graduate students have been selected to receive awards this year under the Mellon Fellowships for Dissertation Research in Original Sources program, administered by CLIR.
The fellowships are intended to help graduate students in the humanities and related social science fields pursue research wherever relevant sources are available; gain skill and creativity in using primary source materials in libraries, archives, museums, and related repositories; and provide suggestions to CLIR about how such source materials can be made more accessible and useful.
The fellowships carry stipends of up to $25,000 each to support dissertation research for periods ranging from nine to twelve months.
University of Chicago
Encountering Antiquity in Renaissance Rome: the Social and Economic Origins of the Classicizing Style, 1400-1550
“The Science of Our Fathers”: Ifá Divination, Textuality, and Epistemic Change in Southwestern Nigeria, 1870-1950
Hearing the Victorian Séance and its Reverberations in 20th-Century Media
Documenting Community: The Syriac Christians of the Ottoman Empire
Marlena Cravens (CLIR/Library of Congress Fellow)
The University of Texas at Austin
“Among Aliens Abroad”: Unruly Translation and the Making of a Transatlantic Spanish, 1492-1650
Science and Security: Constructing the Modern Chinese Citizen, 1900-1966
Spirits of the Sea: The Shipboard Faith of Sailors in the 19th-Century Atlantic World
Michigan State University
North Carolina, Raise Up: Examining the Experiences, Historical Narratives and Commemoration of Student Activism at North Carolina Historically Black Colleges and Universities, 1950-1980
University of California Berkeley
Revolutionary Experiments: Soviet-Cuban Exchange, 1959-1994
The University of Chicago
Barbarians on the Shore: Negotiating Global Trade and Everyday Life on the South China Coast, 1770–1853
University of California, Berkeley
Diagnosing the South: Pellagra, Public Health, and the Political Economy of the Cotton South
University of Pennsylvania
The Social Life of Chinese Poetry: Aesthetic Judgment and the Politics of Perception, 1050-1279
University of Michigan
Pursuing Justice and Liberties: The High Court and Uganda’s Legal History, ca. 1900-1989
University of Chicago
From Mouth to Hand: Mopa mopa images and the processes that configured the imaginary of the colonial Northern Andes
Paloma Rodrigo Gonzales
The Graduate Center, City University of New York
Elusive Evidence, Enduring Fluidity: The “Mongolian Spot” and the Corporeality of Race in the Andes
Johns Hopkins University
Gender, Medicine, and Law in early modern Portuguese India
Leading Change Institute 2019 Participants Named
Thirty-eight individuals have been selected to participate in the 2019 Leading Change Institute (LCI), to be held in Washington DC June 2–7. Jointly sponsored by CLIR and EDUCAUSE, LCI is designed for leaders in higher education, including CIOs, librarians, information technology professionals, and administrators, who want to work collaboratively to promote and initiate change on critical issues affecting the academy. These issues include new sources of competition, use of technology to support effective teaching and learning, distance learning, changing modes of scholarly communications, and the qualities necessary for leadership.
Participants will join deans Joanne Kossuth and Elliott Shore along with other thought leaders from the community in discussing approaches to these challenges, including ideas for collaboration, collective creativity, and innovation within and across departments, institutions, and local or regional boundaries; the conceptualization of blended positions and organizations; and the importance of community mentorship and advocacy.
This year, for the first time, two participants—Monika Rhue and Tina Rollins—were awarded full-tuition scholarships to LCI through CLIR’s Digital Library Federation (DLF) fellowships program. The fellowships enable practitioners to participate in conferences that they might not otherwise attend, and seek to foster “cross-pollinators” among professional communities.
Department Head, Perimeter Library Services
Georgia State University
Director, Client Services
Illinois State University
Head of Development and Strategic Programmes, UCD Library
University College Dublin (UCD)
Jason A. Clark
Head, Special Collections and Archival Informatics
Montana State University Library
Assistant CIO, Enterprise Information Systems
University of North Georgia
Head, Web & Application Development
University of Miami Libraries
Arturo de los Santos
Associate Director of ITS for Strategy, Planning & Governance
Director of Library IT
University of Notre Dame
Head, Research and Instructional Services
Duke University Libraries
Associate University Librarian for Special Collections and Director, Wilson Library
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Associate Director, Education and Public Services
University of Colorado Denver
Program Director, Project Management Office
Senior Director, Customer Enterprise Solutions
University of Notre Dame
Professor and Associate Vice Provost for Data Analytics & Student Success
Middle Tennessee State University
Cynthia Hudson Vitale
Head, Research Informatics and Publishing
Pennsylvania State University
Interim Manager, Administrative Services Center
California State University, Channel Islands
California State University, Office of the Chancellor
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Senior Director for Enterprise Service Management
Pennsylvania State University
Department Head, Information Technology
NC State University
Associate Dean for IT and Digital Library Services
University of Utah
Associate University Librarian, Public Services and Collection Development
Library Director and Head Librarian
Penn State Harrisburg
Associate Director, Learning and Engagement
University of Wollongong
Director of Resource Sharing Initiatives
Ivy Plus Libraries
Chief Information Officer
Penn State Altoona
Senior Business Analyst
Southern New Hampshire University
Senior Director, Academic Technology
Vice President of Digital Strategy and Infrastructure/CIO
Director of Library Services and Curation
Johnson C. Smith University
Director, Digital Library Services
University of Minnesota Libraries
Director of Enterprise Information
Client Technology Manager
Western Carolina University
Vice President of Information Services and CIO
Pellissippi State Community College
Senior Director of Customer Solutions
California College of the Arts
The application period for LCI 2020 will open in October 2019.
Mellon Awards CLIR $2.8 Million to Extend Recordings at Risk Grant Program
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded CLIR $2,807,000 to continue its regranting program to digitize “at-risk” audio and audiovisual materials of high scholarly value. The program will run four competitions between May 2019 and April 2021, awarding a total of $2.2 million.
Audio and audiovisual recordings document vital, irreplaceable aspects of twentieth and twenty-first century life, but if the current generation of professionals fails to act, vast amounts of this history will be lost. Digital reformatting is currently the best available solution for ensuring the survival and utility of recorded content stored on fragile or obsolete media such as magnetic tape, grooved discs, cylinders, or film.
Launched in 2016 by CLIR with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Recordings at Risk has awarded nearly $2 million over the first four grant cycles. “By continuing to offer relatively small grants to a wide range of collecting institutions serving scholars, students, and the public, CLIR will encourage professionals to identify institutional priorities for digital reformatting, establish good working relationships with partners who will help them undertake this work, and raise awareness of best practices for the description, storage, and maintenance of digitized audio and audiovisual content,” said Christa Williford, CLIR’s director of research and assessment.
“Audiovisual content, the fastest growing segment within archives and special collections, presents distinct access and preservation challenges,” said Donald J. Waters, senior program officer at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “In partnering with small and large collecting institutions across the nation, the Recordings at Risk initiative helps ensure that materials remain available for future generations.”
CLIR will open its next competition on May 1, 2019. Subsequent calls for proposals will be issued in November 2019, May 2020, and November 2020. Awards will range from $10,000 to $50,000 and will cover direct costs of preservation reformatting for audio and/or visual time-based media by eligible institutions working with experienced service providers. To make their determinations, CLIR’s independent 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.
For more information on the program, visit https://www.clir.org/recordings-at-risk/.
Becca Quon Named Program Officer
Staff member Becca Quon has been promoted to program officer and will work with the CLIR grants team for Digitizing Hidden Collections and Recordings at Risk. For the past two years, Quon has worked as program associate for the DLF. She will continue to serve as CLIR’s lead for the Authenticity Project, hosted jointly by the HBCU Library Alliance and Digital Library Federation.
Visit our New CLIR+DLF Job Board
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Support CLIR and DLF
Our sponsors and members provide crucial financial support for the activities and programs of CLIR. April begins our annual renewal cycle so please keep an eye out for your renewal notice. If you are considering joining CLIR or DLF, now is a great time to do so. Questions about sponsorship and membership should be directed to Louisa Kwasigroch, director of development and outreach. We would love to hear from you.