This will be my last edition of CLIR News. After 25 years with CLIR, I will retire at the end of January. While part of me wants to deny that a quarter century has passed since my first day on the job, I am overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude for the opportunity to work with a community of people who are so deeply committed to using information to make the world a better place.
During my tenure at CLIR, I witnessed a transformative period in our field. When I started in 1997, the public web was new. Google had not yet been founded, and “social media” wasn’t in common vocabulary. The first iPhone would not be sold until a decade later. These developments have revolutionized how people communicate, access information, learn, and conduct and share research—with profound implications for how libraries and other memory institutions go about their work. As publications manager and editor, I had the good fortune to work alongside some of our community’s most brilliant, visionary, and public-spirited people as they grappled with these issues.
I’ve had the honor of working with highly talented, dedicated, and compassionate fellow staff members and a board whose wisdom and accomplishments will continue to inspire me. As I leave, it is exciting to see CLIR’s trajectory as it engages with new communities, at home and abroad, that have a common purpose to promote ethical access to knowledge and culture reflecting the full diversity of human experience.
It has been a pleasure to share CLIR’s news with you, and I thank you for your readership and support over the years. I wish you each a fulfilling and healthy new year.
CLIR and Coherent Digital LLC (CD) have developed a partnership to greatly expand opportunities for sustained and useful access to endangered resources, both through digitization and through capture of culturally valuable digital-only content. This partnership strives to enhance our capacity to learn about and interpret the world through the lens of social justice, and thus advance the universal human rights to participate in our cultural heritage, access education, and think freely.
Coherent Digital was developed as a corporation guided by ideas and principles espoused by CLIR, and represents a rare transposition of a project nurtured within a not-for-profit organization to a commercial for-profit business in service to scientists, policy makers, educators, knowledge organization professionals, students, and the general public across the world.
Ten years ago CLIR, with generous funding from the Mellon Foundation, launched the Committee on Coherence at Scale. The Committee investigated a working environment of higher education that at the time was defined by silos, paywalls, lost data, and inaccessible information that impedes a more coherent, accessible knowledge ecology, and competition continues to be a key obstacle. Institutions vie for faculty, students, money, and prestige. This mindset offers almost no incentive for true collaboration and interdependence. A correlate aspect of the problem is the incessant counting by schools and other cultural organizations, an arithmetic of prestige that can be so inhibiting. Books, journals, grants, class size, test scores, works of art, endowments, admission rates, and other instances of reductive tallying foster more intensive contesting.
Conservatism also pervades, as do the idiosyncrasies of disciplines that structure higher education, reinforcing conservatism and similarly impeding a more coherent model of knowledge access and reuse. Disciplines, and the professions that provide stewardship for their discoveries, have distinct customs, expectations, systems of advancement, lexicons, and methodologies that are quite difficult to export to other fields of study, ensuring compartmentalization within. The Committee determined that the inherited norms, customs, traditions, and organizational models that have structured research and teaching needed to be constructively challenged, redefined, and subsequently reassembled, affording new ways to expand capacity for future discovery that transcends our current costly and redundant archipelago of knowledge production.
Stephen Rhind-Tutt, a former Board member of CLIR and founder of Alexander Street Press, served on the Committee on Coherence at Scale. Eventually selling his press, Stephen embarked to apply the principles of coherence and the added value it promised, eventually realized as Coherent Digital. CD uses unique, cost effective, extensible, and easily augmented cataloging schema to make coherent content that is uncataloged, undiscoverable, uncitable, prone to link rot, and likely to disappear, creating collections of critical research and learning materials. CD is a platform of deep context, providing tools and supporting materials in service to research and learning, working with leading authors, publishers, nonprofits, libraries, and archives to amplify their voices and help them remain sustainable.
Our initial joint project is Hidden Collections Africa, an initiative designed to identify, digitize, catalog, and make accessible rare, important, and endangered resources of African cultural heritage in response to climate change, political disruption, and legacies of colonialism’s biased neglect. Led by African-based professionals, the proposed program would directly support institutions and staff across the African continent to meet urgent preservation needs, close gaps in the historical record, and make records more accessible. Our inaugural focus will assay core aspirations of our partnership, and we can think of no more fitting opportunity than this dynamic, vital effort that can only succeed at scale.
CLIR has announced the 2022 award recipients for its Pocket Burgundy publication series. The series, which was launched last year, focuses on pieces of 20 to 50 pages that address current topics in the information and cultural heritage community.
A review committee selected the following four proposals:
Archives and Abolition: Case Studies in Aligning Values with PracticesAlison Clemens, Yale University LibraryJessica Farrell, Educopia Institute
Creating Ethical Temporary Positions in Archives: Best Practices and Case StudiesSarah Quigley, University of Nevada, Las Vegas LibrariesAngel Diaz, University of California, Santa BarbaraAlison Clemens, Yale UniversityCamila Tessler, Yale UniversityLaura Starratt, Emory UniversityLauren McDaniel, Getty Research InstituteKit Messick, Getty Research InstituteCourtney Dean, University of California, Los AngelesMonika Lehman, Yale UniversityMargaret Hughes, The HuntingtonSheridan Sayles, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
An Overview of Emulation as a Preservation MethodEric Kaltman, California State University Channel IslandsAlex Garnett, DigitalOceanLarry Masinter, InterlispWinnie Schwaid-Lindner, Louisiana State University Libraries
A Survey of Archival Revolutions: Transitional Moments and Paradigmatic Shifts in Archival Enterprise, 1980-2020Steven D. Booth, Getty Research InstituteBrenda Gunn, University of Virginia Library
Each project will receive a $2,500 subvention. Reports will be completed by December 2023 and will be published in the second and third quarters of 2024. Publications will be made available free of charge on CLIR’s website.
In November, CLIR director for global strategic initiatives Nicole Kang Ferraiolo invited Lisa Spiro, assistant university librarian for digital scholarship and organizational development at Rice University’s Fondren Library, to talk about DLF’s new Climate Justice Working Group, which she coordinates.
Why don’t you start by telling us what the DLF Climate Justice Working Group is. What are some of the group’s goals and guiding principles?
The DLF Climate Justice Working Group aims to bring together the digital library community to address one of the most dire issues we face—the climate crisis, especially its impacts on underserved communities. In its start-up phase, the goals of the DLF Climate Justice Working Group are to:
Over the next year, we plan to establish priorities for action.
What inspired you to start the Climate Justice Working Group?
I am deeply concerned about the current and future effects of climate change, particularly after having personally witnessed the impact of Hurricane Harvey in Houston. While I have been taking some action at the personal and political levels, I also want to integrate climate justice into my professional work. I am impressed by the accomplishments of other DLF working groups and want to bring that same collaborative spirit and creativity to climate justice issues. I believe that the digital library community offers unique expertise, such as strong technical, project management, and curatorial skills. In addition, I think we as a professional community have specific responsibilities to minimize the impacts of our own computing practices, ensure access to reliable information about climate change, and collaborate with communities to curate and protect collections.
What are your hopes for the working group for the coming year?
Over the next year, I hope that we will develop a concrete plan for taking action on climate justice in the digital library community. During our working group meeting at the 2022 DLF Forum, we identified these priorities:
Over the next few months we will hone in on particular goals and begin pursuing them, likely in smaller teams.
How can people get involved?
We welcome all to join us! If you’d like to receive notification of our meetings and events, sign up for our listserv via our DLF web page: https://www.diglib.org/groups/climate-justice-working-group/
If you have any questions or ideas, please contact Lisa Spiro at email@example.com
Jennifer Ferretti has been promoted from senior program officer to director, Digital Library Federation. “Jennifer’s promotion to director of the Digital Library Federation acknowledges the fantastic work she has accomplished in her time at CLIR,” said CLIR chief information officer Wayne Graham. “She is an energetic, passionate—and compassionate—leader who is deftly leading the DLF community. We are so happy that she has accepted this new role.”
Caitlin Perry has joined the staff of the IIIF Consortium as the community and communications manager. She will be working with the experts and adopters of IIIF to help advance the framework and its utility. Before joining IIIF, Caitlin served as communications and data manager at Educopia Institute, providing communications support, data management, and event planning across a portfolio of programs and research projects. Prior to that, Caitlin held roles at a software development company and in book publishing.
The CLIR and DLF job board is a resource for employers and job seekers in the fields of libraries, archives, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. CLIR sponsors and DLF members post for free!
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