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CLIR Annual Report: 2000 – 2001


Economics of Information

As the role of the library is redefined, economic issues take on even greater importance. Economics of information is a theme that cuts across all program activities at CLIR. The costs of library and information services and possible new economic models for those services underlie nearly every project in which CLIR engages.

Financial Models for Library Services

This year, CLIR Distinguished Fellow Angee Baker conducted a study of financial models of selected library services. The purpose of her study was to identify economic models that libraries might use to strengthen their positions in today’s economy. Ms. Baker interviewed library directors and commercial information service providers to develop a survey instrument. Her search for economic models went beyond the library community to include commercial options. At the project’s conclusion in December 2001, Ms. Baker will produce a report on the changes in collection development patterns in the digital environment. A key part of this document will be an analysis of the economic implications of those changes.

Building and Sustaining Digital Collections

In February, CLIR partnered with the National Initiative for a Networked Cultural Heritage (NINCH) to host a conference, Building and Sustaining Digital Collections: Models for Libraries and Museums. The meeting brought together library and museum executives, technologists, entrepreneurs, publishers, and legal experts to discuss how libraries and museums are building digital collections and what business models are available to sustain them. Participants heard presentations about six organizations, both nonprofit and for-profit, that are pioneering different approaches to the financial sustainability of online collections. Among the topics discussed were the circumstances under which a single organization can achieve its goals for online distribution of collections and services and when collaboration is necessary; how an institution can develop the technical, curatorial, legal, and administrative expertise for the variety of challenges that networked collections present; how market demands affect the core cultures of museums and libraries entering the online environment; and how business models can be developed for nonprofits. Participants identified a number of actions to be taken to address these concerns, and they are included in a report on the conference, which CLIR published in May.

The conference, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, was a follow-up to Collections, Content, and the Web, which CLIR hosted with the Chicago Historical Society in October 1999.

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