CLIR Annual Report: 2001 – 2002

“Chin up” becomes the watchword of the Frye Leadership Institute each year. Richard Detweiler, Frye co-dean and Hartwick College president, opens the Institute with a presentation about the human tendency to keep our heads down, focused on the immediate tasks of the everyday. Leadership, he says, requires raising the chin and looking at the larger context. As the two-week Institute progresses, “chin up” is heard repeatedly. Participants use it to signal that the conversations have become bogged in details, and that it is more important to concentrate on the big picture.

The Council on Library and Information Resources has taken the “chin-up” message to heart this past year. Although we have long understood that the library is but one organization in the information landscape, it has always enjoyed a privileged position in our minds. But as we lifted our heads and looked at the broader context, we began to think more in terms of how information products and services as a whole will need to be configured if they are to have the greatest benefits for scholarship and society. We became aware that making the case for the library is related more to exploring and understanding the connections it must have to other information organizations than to asserting its unique qualities.

We then asked ourselves what must be done to ensure that the intellectual and cultural materials that support learning will be available to succeeding generations. We were humbled by the recognition that focusing exclusively on libraries would result in incomplete-and inadequate-stewardship.

Projects Reflecting a Broader Context

CLIR’s work is only beginning to reflect our consideration of the larger context of knowledge creation, dissemination, and use; however, three projects provide good examples of our broadening perspective and interests.

Understanding the User. In 2001, the Digital Library Federation (DLF) commissioned a wide-ranging study of information users. More than 3,200 undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty members in liberal arts colleges and universities were asked not only about libraries but also about all sources they use to meet their information needs. They were asked how comfortable they are with electronic resources and about where and how they do research, develop teaching materials, and prepare course work. The survey, which will be published this fall, produced hundreds of tables of data that CLIR is analyzing and making available for analysis by others. We hope that this information will help universities, libraries, publishers, and others in planning truly useful information services.

Preserving Digital Information. CLIR’s work with the Library of Congress on its National Digital Information Infrastructureand Preservation Program, described on page 11, helped us appreciate the need to engage a wide array of educational, cultural, and commercial partners in documenting and preserving the products of human creativity. Films, television programs, radio broadcasts, and music, for example, are valuable economic and cultural assets that can be preserved only if commercial rights holders cooperate. Similarly, publishers, many of which are commercial enterprises, own the rights to many electronic journals. Because libraries license, rather than purchase, e-journal content, access to such content over time can be assured only if publishers are included in the consideration of how e-journals will be preserved and managed.

Commercial enterprises are not the only partners needed for cultural resource preservation. Librarians, archivists, and museum curators are the traditional stewards of intellectual and cultural content. Each group has developed standards and processes for carrying out its responsibilities. As these groups move into the digital arena, their practices become more similar and they confront many common problems. Increasingly, we are mindful of the need for collaboration as these groups develop digital collections and services for their constituents. Instead of competing for approval, libraries, archives, and museums must consider their collective role of stewardship and find ways to work together to identify, manage, and preserve resources for scholarship and human inquiry.

Collaboration and Outreach. CLIR joined with the Professional and Scholarly Division of the Association of American Publishers to form a Joint Working Group of Publishers and Librarians in February 2002. The group identified a series of topics that cause concern for both librarians and publishers, and then set out to develop projects to help solve some of the most pressing problems. For example, the group decided to compare results of user studies conducted by libraries with those of studies carried out by publishers to determine what changes may be required of both groups from the standpoint of user expectations.

Through CLIRinghouse, a publication launched in August 2001, CLIR tries to help university and college presidents, provosts, and chief academic officers grapple with information issues that exert pressure on higher education. After nine issues had been distributed to more than 4,000 administrators, CLIR conducted a reader survey. Results showed that readers are finding the publication helpful in thinking through information services and policies on their own campuses. CLIR plans to continue this outreach effort to administrators for at least another year. Many “library” issues need resolution, with administrative encouragement, through consultation and collaboration campus-wide.

Looking to the Future

The “chin-up” approach has also made us more aware of the need to think deeply about the education and training of information professionals, as Stanley Chodorow noted in his opening letter. Librarians are increasingly engaged in content development for teaching and learning. The CLIR Board devoted its May 2002 meeting to a discussion of the education and training of librarians and concluded that the distinctive educational paths for librarians, archivists, and museum curators need a new look in the digital environment. What are the common elements of their curricula? To what extent should internships and other forms of on-the-job experience be part of education for cultural resource stewardship? What do higher education and society at large expect of information professionals? These and related concerns of the broad range of information providers that include libraries will be at the center of CLIR’s agenda in 2003.

A Bow to Our Sponsors

CLIR is most grateful to the institutions that contribute financial and intellectual support to our efforts. Each year, we ask institutions to help us address the problems we have jointly identified as important. We are especially appreciative of our sponsors in this time of economic and political uncertainty, when many academic institutions are under great stress. In 2002, 158 institutions supported CLIR as sponsors. Dartmouth College and Johns Hopkins Universityjoined the DLF, bringing the total membership in that organization to 30.

We also enjoy generous support from several private foundations, government agencies, and individual donors. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provides greatly appreciated general support for CLIR as well as support for numerous projects. The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation is the primary funder of the Frye Leadership Institute. With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CLIR manages the international Access to Learning Award program. Funds from The Atlantic Philanthropies, Documentation Abstracts, Inc., The Henry Luce Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the H. W. Wilson Foundation have allowed us to pursue important projects described later in this report.

Grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services have greatly helped our effort to identify business models for maintaining library and museum content on the Web and for beginning to redefine preservation in the twenty-first century. A contract with the Library of Congress has involved CLIR in the development of a national strategy for digital preservation.

Individual donors have been especially generous in supporting scholarship and fellowship opportunities. The A. R. Zipf Fellowship is awarded each year to a student who embodies the professional ideals of Mr. Zipf, a pioneer in information technology. The Patricia M. Battin Scholarship is awarded to a Frye Institute participant who is selected from an institution that cannot afford the tuition. This year, Mathilde and Howard Rovelstad established a fellowship program that will enable a student in a U.S. library school to take part in the annual conference of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).

And a Bow to the Staff and the Board

The staff members of CLIR and the DLF are a devoted and talented group of individuals, each of whom brings special gifts to the organization. Each person is also fully committed to the mission of CLIRto expand access to information, however recorded or preserved, as a public good. Their understanding and accomplishments are evident throughout the remainder of this report, but I take this opportunity to commend them for their fine work.

In 2002, Anne Kenney, a half-time director of programs at CLIR, was appointed assistant university librarian of instruction, research, and information services at Cornell University Libraries. Anne’s official duties with CLIR ended on June 30, 2002, although she continues to be a wonderful colleague and collaborator. Former DLF Director Daniel Greenstein was recruited by the California Digital Library to become its new director in May. Dan has been an enthusiastic and energetic leader of the digital library movement. We are sorry to lose him, but know that he will continue to be involved in the work of CLIR.

Administrative Coordinator Scott Hunter resigned in May. New staff members joining CLIR this year are Alice Bishop, special projects associate; Arvaye Davis, administrative associate; Amy Friedlander, special projects associate; and Amy Harbur, a library school intern from the Catholic University of America. In June, the DLF appointed David Seaman its next director. He began his assignment in July.

Finally, I extend bountiful thanks to the Board of CLIRthe new and continuing members, as well as those who recently left the Board after years of service. I am enormously grateful for the privilege of working with this dedicated and thoughtful group of individuals.

Deanna B. Marcum

September 30, 2002