A Guide to the CNI Spring 2005 Task Force Meeting
by Executive Director Clifford Lynch
The Spring 2005 CNI Task Force meeting, to be held at the Loews L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, DC on April 4-5 offers a wide range of presentations that advance and report on CNI’s programs, showcase projects underway at Task Force member institutions, and highlight important developments at a national and international level. Here is the “roadmap” to the sessions at the meeting, which includes both plenary events and an extensive series of breakout sessions focusing on current developments in networked information.
Because of the way that CNI and its member organizations work together in a dynamic collaboration with tight timelines, we are able to present programs that we believe are unusually timely. The meeting this spring is particularly strong in this area, offering a program in which attendees will be among the first to learn of developments on a range of topics, including the humanities, scientific data, intellectual property, and standards. We have a wonderful set of presentations scheduled, many of which are discussed below.
As usual, the CNI meeting proper is preceded by an optional orientation session for new attendees – both representatives of new members and new representatives or alternate delegates from existing member organizations — at 11:30 AM; guests are also welcome. Refreshments are available for all at 12:15 PM on Monday, April 4. The opening keynote is at 1:00 PM and will be followed by two rounds of parallel breakout sessions. Tuesday, April 5, includes additional rounds of parallel breakout sessions, lunch and the closing keynote, concluding around 3:30 PM. Along with plenary and breakout sessions, the meeting includes generous break time for informal networking with colleagues and a reception which will run till 7:15 PM on the evening of Monday, April 4, after which participants can enjoy a wide range of dining opportunities in Washington.
The EDUCAUSE Policy Conference, which CNI co-sponsors, will follow this meeting on April 6 and 7 in the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, DC (Note this is a different hotel than the one that is hosting the CNI meeting). Separate registration is required. For program and registration information, visit the EDUCAUSE web site at www.educause.edu.
As always, the CNI meeting agenda is subject to last minute changes, particularly in the breakout sessions, and you can find the most current information on our web site, http://www.cni.org.
The Opening Plenary: Research Libraries and the Google Digitization Initiative
No recent event has so re-ignited the public interest in the promise of digital libraries as the announcement that Google would join with a group of leading research libraries in a very large-scale digitization program. Within the higher education, research and cultural heritage communities this development has generated wide discussion and focused thinking on the scholarly, institutional and community-wide implications of large scale digitization programs. We will have an excellent opportunity in our opening plenary panel to gain a deeper understanding of the specific projects, which vary by library, and also the broader impact of the availability of massive digital collections. Leaders from all five of the research libraries that are working with Google – Stanford, Oxford, the University of Michigan, the New York Public Library and Harvard – will join us for a panel discussion which I will moderate. The panel will include an opportunity for questions from the audience, and I am looking forward to a lively and informative exchange of ideas and perspectives.
The Closing Plenary: the Croquet Collaborative Learning Environment
We’ve seen very few large-scale information environments recently that stretch our thinking beyond the model of the worldwide web. Croquet, however, is one such development; it integrates high end three dimensional sound and graphics, collaboration technologies, simulations and other tools to create a powerful shared space for the creation, use, and re-use of digital content. I believe that this project is important for three reasons: for what it offers directly; for the way it can expand our thinking about new information, collaboration and learning environments; and for what it can teach us about how to design new and innovative software environments that build upon, rather than directly compete with, the existing information infrastructure. Croquet is being developed by a consortium of universities led by the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin; the project is architected by a stellar team of computer scientists and software engineers that includes Alan Kay, David Smith, and David Reed, as well as the presenters. The closing plenary presentation will be given by Mark McCahill of the University of Minnesota (who some may remember as the primary architect of the Gopher system, among many other achievements) and Julian Lombardi of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For more background on the Croquet project, visit http://www.opencroquet.org.
Highlighted Breakout Sessions
I will not attempt to comprehensively summarize the wealth of breakout sessions here. However, I want to note particularly some sessions that have strong connections to the Coalition’s 2004-2005 Program Plan, which is available at http://www.cni.org/program/, and also a few other sessions of special interest, and to provide some additional context for a few sessions that may be helpful to attendees in making session choices. We have a packed agenda of breakout sessions, and as always will try to put material from these sessions on our Web site following the meeting for those who were unable to attend.
A number of sessions relate to the themes of institutional repositories and the management of locally-produced scholarship. We will have a report from the California Digital Library, which is re-engineering its repository with a new emphasis on services for local users. Many universities around the world have made commitments to electronic theses and dissertations programs; they are now serving as drivers for institutional repository services at a number of institutions. We will have a report from the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD) that will highlight new developments in the US and in Europe. Two presentations will examine the technical infrastructure for institutional repositories from different vantage points: Johns Hopkins is beginning a Mellon-funded study to examine repositories and services and how repository content is moved through various applications, and a representative of a liberal arts colleges consortium will discuss the challenges of and potential solutions for implementing Fedora in small colleges. The government also wrestles with issues that deal with content management strategies: the United States Government Printing Office (GPO) will highlight a study they are undertaking to examine life cycle issues related to their publications, including version control, authentication, and preservation.
Institutional repositories are one aspect of a broader discussion of cyberinfrastructure and e-research which is a central theme in CNI’s current program. The American Council of Learned Societies will soon issue a report on the work of its Commission on Cyberinfrastructure and this session will provide a preview of their findings. I am delighted that Chris Greer, representing a study on long-lived data by the National Science Board, will join us to give us a preliminary look at the findings of their task force on the topic. I predict that issues related to large collections of scientific data will become increasingly important for research institutions, and Chris is very interested in forging links between scientists and stewards of information. At the regional level, we will have a report on OhioView, a project for the collection and maintenance of satellite data that depends on collaboration between scientists and libraries.
The UK Digital Curation Centre (DCC) began its work this year, and will spearhead some important research and education on preservation of scientific and scholarly data; I think that we all have a great deal to learn from the UK leadership in this area. The Library of Congress will provide an overview of the eight projects funded under the NDIIP program and the California Digital Library will describe in more depth one of those projects. The National Library of Medicine will provide an update on a project first described at CNI in 2001; they are making a serious effort to archive pre-determined web resources, an activity that is still in the planning stage at many institutions. On a related topic, we will learn from Charles McClure and Timothy Sprehe about an effort to document good practice in government electronic records management.
Columbia University will present two sessions exploring relationships between digital content, producers, libraries, and publishers. One will examine the increased significance of grey literature in the digital environment and invite attendees to discuss the ramifications for publishers and libraries, and the other will describe the DART project, focusing on anthropology resources and their relationship to repositories, publications, and teaching and learning materials.
We have two major sessions on important developments in intellectual property and public policy. I’m very pleased that we will have a groundbreaking and provocative session by Ken Hamma of the Getty, in which he will make a case for museums to make the images of their out of copyright content freely available via the web. He will describe why he thinks this strategy makes sense both in terms of organizational mission and as a business case and will invite discussion from CNI participants. Marybeth Peters, the United States Register of Copyright, will join us to discuss a recent inquiry by the Copyright Office into the status of so-called “orphan works” (in essence, works that are under copyright, but not being commercially exploited, and where there is no reasonable way to identify and locate the rights holder). These works, which now make up the vast majority of the cultural and intellectual record of the last century, are largely inaccessible to teachers, researchers, and scholars at present. The Copyright Office issued a call for comments on these issues which is scheduled to close towards the end of March, 2005, and hundreds of comments have already been submitted. This is an issue of enormous importance to the scholarly and cultural heritage communities, as well as the general public.
CNI has always been concerned with the system of standards development as a part of our collective infrastructure. As chair of a National Information Standards Organization (NISO) external review panel, I recently led an effort to look at future directions for this organization in the broader standards environment. (The panel’s report, along with a response from the NISO board, will soon be publicly available on the NISO web site). In January 2005, CNI joined with ALA, OCLC and RLG to host an invitational meeting to look broadly at the changing landscape of standards development. In this session, I will offer some observations from the NISO panel about the standards landscape broadly, and my colleagues from OCLC and RLG will join me in a report and discussion of some of the insights gained from the January meeting. Other sessions which will touch on aspects of the standards and technology infrastructure include British and US projects for digital library services registries, a study by Bill Moen on interoperability of metadata, and research by Judith Klavans and others in the CliMB project to develop a toolkit to aid metadata extraction from text associated with digital image collections.
Steve Carmody of Brown University will report briefly on progress with Shibboleth and InCommon – technologies and infrastructure that we believe are now ready to make the transition from prototypes to large-scale deployment — and I will join Steve to lead a discussion of strategies that can advance that deployment, as well as any barriers that need to be addressed by the Shibboleth team. Brad Wheeler of Indiana University will describe Community Source, a model developed on Open Source principles, used by such projects as Sakai. The tension between those supporting commercially produced software and community source software is an important question for the CNI community, and Brad is certain to shed some light on this topic as well as provide an opportunity for discussion of key issues.
Several sessions will explore what types of services today’s information users, seekers, and creators need. Joan Lippincott will discuss her chapter on Net Gen Students and Libraries, recently published by EDUCAUSE in their first e-book. The Association of Research Libraries will report on data from their LibQual surveys that illuminate how information seekers are locating digital resources, particularly their use of Google and library search services. A large study in the UK, under the auspices of Project CREE, is similarly examining how users prefer to seek information and then will be building some prototypes for testing. The Stanford Grokker project is developing software for federated searches that also displays results in both topical and visual modes that users find easier to navigate. The University of Minnesota library has established itself as the host for a large collection of community blogs and will describe their experience with this service.
Additional sessions focus on the use of digital media, particularly as it relates to the practice of teaching, learning and scholarship. Cdigix is a tool developed by Yale University to provide a simpler mechanism for integrating video content into courses. The Survivors of the SHOAH project will be represented by a presentation on the service and technical challenges of very large multi-media collections. In addition, RLG will present its work on using Trove.net and other mechanisms to promote the use of digital images in the curriculum.
Finally, let me just mention two other sessions. Recently, the Digital Library Federation announced its major new initiative, Aquifer, and Katherine Kott, who now leads the DLF effort, will bring us up to date on this work. And as part of our continuing program to highlight new collaborative facilities, Case Western Reserve University will describe an initiative that will provide both a physical facility and an infrastructure for supporting user access to and creation of information as well as preservation of digital information.
There is much more, and I invite you to browse the complete list of breakout sessions and their full abstracts at the CNI web site. In many cases you will find these abstracts include pointers to reference material that you may find it useful to explore prior to the session, and after the meeting, we will add material from the actual presentations when it is available to us.
I look forward to seeing you in Washington this April for what promises to be another extremely worthwhile meeting. Hopefully the cherry blossoms will be in full bloom, and the hotel is in a prime location for viewing them. Please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Joan Lippincott, CNI’s Associate Director (email@example.com) if we can provide you with any additional information on the meeting.