CLIRinghouse Number 9

CLIRinghouse Number 9

Quick insight into information-investment issues for presidents, CAOs, and other campus leaders from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Number 9, May 2002

The Issue for Presidents and CAOs:

Getting Full Value From Campus Information Resources

New academic resources are arising all over the campus at universities and colleges large and small:

  • A professor creates an electronic database to facilitate work on a special project.
  • Collaborating scholars set up a Web site for reporting research results quickly.
  • A teacher develops a digital syllabus with links to assigned readings.
  • A learning center creates computer-generated course materials.
  • A department such as art or architecture digitizes image collections.
  • A campus museum puts a digital exhibit online.

Potentially, some of these can be long-term assets for the institution. But can anyone other than their creators find them? And will even the creators preserve them for future use? If not, campus executives may be failing to get full value from aids to teaching and research that the institution finances directly or indirectly.

The Challenge:

How to Leverage What’s Arising Outside the Library

Librarians share this concern. Traditionally they safeguard and make accessible the intellectual resources that support teaching and research. And as they develop digital libraries, many want to incorporate at least some of the many kinds of digital resources created by scholars on their campuses outside the library.Many useful and exciting digital creations develop within academic departments, research labs, classrooms, information technology units, and professors’ offices. But, too often, independently operating creators use whatever software will work without thinking of access-system compatibility or long-term preservation. Moreover, some professors and departments eschew the library to avoid having to meet library standards and specifications for technological integration into the library system to make their products more secure and accessible. What can be done?

Some Approaches:

Special Services Encourage Collaboration

At two recent Digital Library Federation (DLF) forums, members of the DLF discussed how their digital infrastructure developments could be more accommodating to digital products from outside the library, and how their guidance could ease the integration of digital libraries with instructional technologies and scholars’ projects. Some libraries also are developing services to improve the situation.

  • Faculty and IT staff have joined librarians at five primarily undergraduate institutions—Connecticut College, Dartmouth, Trinity, Wesleyan, and Williams—to develop a Curricular Resource Library (CuRL) of pedagogically useful Internet resources.
  • The California Digital Library serves all University of California schools with an “E-Scholarship Repository” that enables scholars to make their working papers easily discoverable.
  • Cornell and Duke operate Project Euclid, providing electronic publishing services for small-circulation journals in math and statistics whose editors retain content control.
  • An aggregator at the University of Minnesota called IMAGES makes storage and access support available to digital-image collection developers university-wide.
  • The University of Michigan’s Scholarly Publishing Office provides electronic publishing assistance to faculty authors.
  • MIT’s D-Space Project is developing a digital archive of all MIT electronic intellectual output that will enable faculty to manage their own digital material.

For the user, systems disconnections inhibit access to academic assets. For the academic executive, that is a waste. The goal is to enable students and faculty to identify and use digital information developed on campus, wherever created and controlled, for as long as such assets can be useful.

Additional Information:

For more about efforts mentioned in this issue, see the following Web sites: