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CLIR Annual Report: 2001 – 2002

Resources for Scholarship

CLIR’s activities have been informed by a fresh look at the needs and aspirations of scholars working productively in both analog and digital formats. This year, CLIR has emphasized work that will help us better understand users and their needs.

Task Force on the Artifact in Library Collections

The work of the task force, which began in October 1999, concluded in November 2001 with the publication of The Evidence in Hand: Report of the Task Force on the Artifact in Library Collections. Members of the task force have since made several presentations to academic and library groups in North America. Discussions are taking place among interested parties on the creation of off-site repositories for imprints, a principal recommendation of the report, and efforts are under way to develop repositories of publications that are readily accessible online.

The task force report underscores the importance of preservation as a core activity of libraries at a time when many in the library and scholarly communities are asking probing questions about the role of the library in a networked research environment. Numerous user studies done in the past year, including research by JSTOR and a survey conducted for CLIR and the Digital Library Federation (DLF) by Outsell, Inc., have shown that preservation is a mission specific to libraries that is highly valued by faculty and students. The task force report also explored the question of whose responsibility it is to preserve scholarly resources. Although libraries are currently the locus of preservation actions, the task force concluded that responsibility for ensuring the preservation of original resources extends far beyond the staff of libraries and into the ranks of faculty, administration, and funders, and even to the public. The task force underscored the importance of engaging all these groups in the work of preservation. Raising awareness about preservation and finding ways to engage the necessary participants in preservation continue to be significant challenges for libraries.

Publishers/Librarians Joint Working Group

Changes in scholarly communication, largely the result of technology, have long created challenges for both publishers and librarians. In 1994, the Council on Library Resources and the Association of American Publishers launched a collaborative study of the potential impact of digital technology on libraries and publishing houses. The report urged the two groups to continue working together to understand the changes that were taking place and to launch pilot projects that would educate both librarians and publishers.

The need to work together is more urgent than ever. Recognizing that issues of intellectual property rights and journal pricing have kept librarians and publishers in separate corners, CLIR and the Association of American Publishers, Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division, agreed to create a Joint Working Group to find other areas of mutual concern in which to cooperate.

Two meetings were held this year. The group agreed on nine topics for further work, and projects are currently being formulated. Perhaps the most important result of the meetings was the decision to look at issues not from the publisher’s or the library’s perspective but from the vantage point of the information user. Libraries and publishers share the goal of making information more readily accessible to users. Likewise, both wish to continue to hold an honored place in the scholarly communication system.

The May meeting of the Joint Working Group focused on several user studies that have been conducted by libraries, publishers, and other parties. Representatives from these sectors presented their findings to the Joint Working Group, and projects have been designed to address common problems.

Creating a Test Database for Digital Visual Resources

What are the most effective methods for searching images? In an ongoing project to determine whether creating a large test database of images can provide answers to that question, Clifford Lynch, executive director of the Coalition for Networked Information, has developed scenarios depicting two approaches to developing the database. Under one approach, a massive and diverse image library could be built and made available to researchers. In the second scenario, a more topically focused database or databases, with high-quality metadata attached, could be constructed. Jennifer Trant, executive director of the Art Museum Image Consortium, is considering the feasibility of and likely next steps associated with each of the scenarios. She will produce a report of her findings.

Mellon Dissertation Fellowships

In April, CLIR announced the first recipients of the Mellon Dissertation Fellowships for doctoral research in original resources. These fellowships are designed to enable humanities scholars early in their careers to spend up to 12 months in archives, libraries, museums, and other repositories (including private collections) to develop their research abilities. Fellows are also expected to identify and report barriers to resource accessibility by researchers. With funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a three-year program, CLIR this year awarded 10 fellowships of up to $20,000 each to graduate students who are working in little-known collections, using primary sources in creative or nontraditional ways, or working in repositories that are not in a position to offer fellowships.

CLIR requires that fellows begin their program by attending a workshop on the use of primary sources. This year’s workshop was co-hosted with the Library of Congress. The purpose of the workshop is to bring the fellows together with archivists and librarians to discuss research strategies, address any outstanding questions about how to work in libraries and archives, and enable the fellows to spend time with subject specialists who can advise them on relevant resources. At the end of the research period, each fellow will submit to CLIR a report that provides insight into the problems and possibilities that scholars encounter working in repositories.

2002 Mellon
Dissertation Fellows

Sinan Antoon, Harvard University, Arabic literature

Brenda Foley, Brown University, interdisciplinary studies (history, theatre, women’s studies)

Christiane Gruber, University of Pennsylvania, art history

Angela Herren, City University of New York Graduate Center, pre-Columbian art history

Drew Hopkins, Columbia University, cultural anthropology

Susan Pearson, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, United States history

Alisha Rankin, Harvard University, history of medicine

Maria Rose, New York University, musicology

Natalie Rothman, University of Michigan, anthropology and history

Paula Saunders, University of Texas at Austin, anthropology

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