Cliff’s Roadmap: A Guide to the CNI Spring 2006 Task Force Meeting
by Executive Director Clifford Lynch
The Spring 2006 CNI Task Force meeting 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. Our venue for this meeting, in the Washington, DC area, also allows us to include a number of policy-oriented sessions with experts from the national policy arena.
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 3. The opening keynote is at 1:15 PM and will be followed by two rounds of parallel breakout sessions. Tuesday, April 4, 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 3, after which participants can enjoy a wide range of dining opportunities in the Washington area.
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, www.cni.org.
The Opening Plenary: The Paul Evan Peters Award Presentation and Lecture
I am delighted that Paul Ginsparg, professor of physics at Cornell University and founder of arXiv.org will receive the Paul Evan Peters Award during the opening plenary session and will deliver a lecture “The Library of Babel (after Borges).” Paul has been a pioneer in scholarly communication on the Internet, revolutionizing the dissemination of research papers in his field through the e-print archive arXiv, which he started when he was a researcher at Los Alamos Laboratories. The archive provides researchers with a very quick means of disseminating their results to their colleagues and gathering their comments, and it also allows free, global access to the latest scientific output to anyone who has access to an Internet connection. Paul will reflect on past developments and give us his thinking on where things might be heading in the next five years.
This will be the fourth time that the Paul Evan Peters award has been presented; the award was created by the Association of Research Libraries, CNI, and EDUCAUSE to honor the memory and contributions of CNI’s founding executive director following his untimely death. Previous recipients are Tim Berners-Lee, Vint Cerf, and Brewster Kahle.
The Closing Plenary: Can We Create a Democratic Digital History?
Our closing plenary speaker, Roy Rosenzweig, will describe his vision of the potential of the Internet to democratize history by incorporating multiple voices, reaching diverse audiences, and encouraging popular participation in presenting and preserving the past.
Roy is Professor of History and New Media and founder and director of the Center on History and New Media at George Mason University; he also serves as an at-large member of CNI’s Steering Committee. Remarkably, he has been deeply engaged in history, particularly digital history projects, in all three arenas of research, teaching, and community outreach. His recent writings – addressing areas as diverse as the case for open access to scholarship in the humanities and the extraction and compilation of historical facts from the web by computational methods – are, in my view, some of the most insightful and exciting thinking on the implications of digital technologies for the humanities and society broadly. As a member of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Roy was able to bring his discipline knowledge and technical expertise to bear on the current and future needs of humanists in the digital environment.
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 2005-2006 Program Plan 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 session from the University of Rochester and Georgia Tech on the kinds of value-added services that can be built into institutional repositories that address faculty needs. A follow-up presentation from a year ago on a Mellon-funded Johns Hopkins study will provide some findings from their examination of the technical infrastructure for institutional repositories, specifically how repository content is moved through various applications. A Washington, DC-based group will discuss the issues involved in a consortial implementation of an institutional repository, and representatives from Case Western and Rutgers will describe the decision-making process and implementation of institutional repository software on their campuses. The Australian national institutional repository initiative, ARROW, will also be featured.
Cyberinfrastructure and e-research are also central themes in CNI’s current program. Colleagues from Germany will present a session on AstroCat, a project that holds information on the physical properties of astronomical data, and allows registered users to add data directly to the catalog; it is an example of the kinds of data support that libraries and information scientists can provide within the context of e-science. We will have a report from Purdue University on their plans to involve the libraries as partners in e-science initiatives on their campus.
Given our Washington-area location, we will have strong representation of sessions addressing public policy. I’m very pleased that we will have two sessions on the issue of 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 has developed a legislative recommendation as a result of input gathered by means of a call for comments on these issues. This is an issue of enormous importance to the scholarly and cultural heritage communities, as well as the general public. The Copyright Office will present one session, and we will also have an analysis from Denise Troll Covey of Carnegie Mellon University, analyzing the range of public comment on the orphan works issue.
We will also have a report from the Section 108 (of the Copyright Act) committee, which is reexamining the exceptions and limitations applicable to libraries and archives under the Copyright Act, specifically those related to digital media. This has important implications for areas such as digital preservation.
A very hot topic in telecommunications policy circles, and one with potentially serious implications for higher education and for cultural memory organizations, is the “network neutrality” issue. As the number of Internet service providers offering broadband access to consumers has diminished through mergers and other consolidations, these corporations are proposing to charge content providers differential rates for varying levels of service, particularly for high-bandwidth content such as video material. Steve Worona of the EDUCAUSE Washington office has put together a panel of experts who will provide an update on this important issue.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will highlight its current funding programs and answer questions from potential grant-seekers. IMLS and the National Science Foundation will also report on a conference, held at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, to develop a framework for a collaborative digital library of the Middle East.
The National Library of Medicine (NLM) will present a preview of its strategic planning initiative report. NLM has brought together a wide array of experts to provide a context for the development of infrastructure and services for twenty-first century medical and life science researchers; this context and environmental scan will be valuable for all organizations seeking to understand the changing landscape of the life sciences and health care.
A number of project briefings will describe national, international, and local efforts to develop software or tools for digital information systems. We have featured Sakai, the open source learning management and collaboration software at previous meetings, and Brad Wheeler will bring us up-to-date on developments. MIT is partnering with the WorldWide Web Consortium (W3C) and others to develop services based on the semantic web; these will be featured in a session on the SIMILE project. The Melvyl Recommender Project at the University of California is exploring how to add new personalization and social search features to online catalogs; it’s one of the few projects of this type I know of, other than the TechLens project at University of Minnesota that has been featured at a previous CNI meeting. At Emory, the MetaCombine project is an open source tool for metasearch findings. The UK National Centre for Text Mining is developing tools to enable researchers to explore large collections of digital content in new ways – a critical complement to the large-scale digitization projects that are currently underway, and a set of technologies that will take on growing importance in my view.
Sessions on digital library projects will range from large-scale initiatives to local institutional efforts. Bill Arms of Cornell will discuss the creation of a very large-scale library for the history of the web from the Internet Archive and describe how researchers might take advantage of this corpus of digital content. A session from the New York Public Library will discuss how a group of researchers are de-contextualizing images from the library’s large collection of digital artifacts and then providing blog commentaries on their work. The University of Kentucky, a participant in the Library of Congress’s newspaper digitization project, will describe its in-house project. The University of Miami library is providing grants to faculty to assist them in developing digital library projects and then working with them to realize their efforts.
In an effort to assist institutions that wish to better understand the nature and extent of the use of their digital collections, Thomson Scientific, in partnership with several academic institutions, is developing a set of journal use reports to provide data on the use of digital materials and also to help develop standards for usage data harvesting.
A number of sessions will focus on the important issue of digital preservation. They include briefings on the Library of Congress and NSF digital archiving and long-term preservation program and its next phase, the massive National Archives and Records Administration project to preserve electronic records, web archiving initiatives from RLG and the Internet Archive, and Stanford University’s work on the preservation aspects of its institutional repository.
CNI has always been concerned with standards development as a part of our collective infrastructure. The PREMIS data dictionary and the SRU protocol projects will provide reports on their work. We will have a session providing views from a cross-association license terms expression working group, which is making recommendations on the further development of standards for this type of information, addressing a growing problem for all participants in the scholarly publication process.
We have featured the work of Shibboleth for a number of years, and will have two reports at this meeting: one will be an overview and look into the future, and the other will describe higher education implementations of Shibboleth that include commercial partners.
Several sessions will explore what types of services today’s information users, seekers, and creators need. A collaboration between the library and information technology units at the University of Tennessee has resulted in development of a model of service implementation and some concrete projects, including a newly opened Commons in the library. An anthropologist from the University of Rochester and an information technologist from Wesleyan University will describe a methodology and some results of a study to understand the needs and habits of people who will use various types of physical spaces on campus. Gnosh, a “social metasearch and aggregation tool,” one of a class of tools that encourage the use of information in a social context, has been developed to address learning and research needs in liberal arts colleges.
A session from the UK will describe three JISC-funded projects that encourage the re-use and sharing of learning objects in various contexts.
Finally, let me mention just two other sessions. At a recent Modern Language Association (MLA) conference, a session was held on the work of a committee that is reviewing current practice of evaluation of faculty output for promotion and tenure, particularly with reference to their production of digital materials. While the committee has not yet issued a report, we are fortunate to have two representatives from the MLA to provide a summary of the committee’s work and to lead a discussion of the major issues and their implications. In another session, we will hear about a recently issued major report from the University of California system which provides some very fresh – indeed, perhaps controversial — thinking on the future of bibliographic services.
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 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 welcome you to Arlington for what promises to be another extremely worthwhile meeting. The cherry blossoms are in full bloom just in time for our meeting. 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 or if you have comments on the meeting.
Coalition for Networked Information