CNI Spring 2009 Membership Meeting
April 6-7, 2009
Hyatt Regency Minneapolis
A Guide to the CNI Spring 2009 Task Force Meeting
The Spring 2009 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 national and international developments. Here is the customary “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.As usual, the CNI meeting proper is preceded by an optional orientation session for new attendees — both representatives of new member organizations 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 6. The opening plenary is at 1:15 PM and will be followed by two rounds of parallel breakout sessions. Tuesday, April 7, 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 until 7:15 PM on the evening of Monday, April 6, after which participants can enjoy a free evening in Minneapolis.
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, and on the announcements board near the registration desk at the meeting.
We will open the meeting with a plenary address from David S. H. Rosenthal exploring sustainable approaches to format obsolescence in digital preservation. David, who is well known to our community for his pioneering work in partnership with Vicky Reich on the LOCKSS (“Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe”) preservation system, has had a distinguished career as an engineer at Carnegie Mellon, Sun Microsystems, Nvidia, Vitria, and Stanford University. David has been doing some very deep thinking in the last few years about the interactions between the evolution of information technology over time and the social, technical, and economic factors that enable digital preservation, particularly at very large scale. He will look at changing fundamental understandings of threats and challenges in digital preservation starting from Jeff Rothenberg’s 1995 Scientific American article “Ensuring the Longevity of Digital Documents” and moving onwards to the present and the future, with emphasis on the emerging recognition that economic and social sustainability may well be the overarching long-term barrier. I have been lucky enough to have a preview of some of this material and I believe that it will change the way many of us are thinking about the digital preservation challenge.
David and Vicky will also have a follow-on breakout on Tuesday where they will connect some of this thinking more explicitly to recent failures in the financial and economic system and draw lessons for the future development of preservation strategies.
Our closing plenary on Tuesday afternoon will be devoted to introducing the two pending US National Science Foundation (NSF) DataNet grants for 2009 (it is expected there will be two or three more in 2010); while these awards were approved by the National Science Board in December 2008, I believe that this will be the first major public presentation of the projects. DataNet is a large-scale, $100 million program being run by the Office of Cyberinfrastructure at NSF intended to build capability in scientific and scholarly data curation, management and reuse through the development of collaborative, five year, multi-institutional programs. One DataNet project, called the Data Conservancy, is led by Johns Hopkins University and will be described by Sayeed Choudhury, Associate Dean for Library Digital Programs and Director of the Digital Research and Curation Center at the Sheridan Libraries. The second is based at the University of New Mexico under the direction of William Michener; Patricia Cruse, Director of Digital Preservation at the California Digital Library, one of the key collaborating institutions, will discuss this project. Both Sayeed and Patricia are long time leaders within our community. DataNet projects are going to be very important in helping us to understand and meet the challenges that e-science and e-research are rapidly presenting for our institutions and for the future of scholarship broadly, and also in establishing the foundations of inter-institutional collaborations that may help us to take collective actions in data stewardship.
Highlighted Breakout Sessions
I will not attempt a comprehensive summary of breakout sessions here; we offer a great wealth and diversity of material. However, I want to note particularly some sessions that have strong connections to the Coalition’s 2008-2009 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. I do realize that choosing among so many interesting concurrent sessions can be frustrating, and as always we will try to put material from the breakout sessions on our Web site following the meeting.
The management of large-scale data sets in e-research has been a key theme for CNI’s program in recent years. One of our project briefing sessions will describe how the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Libraries has been building a program to not only manage and curate large data sets for their researchers, but also to provide expertise and outreach to support their faculty’s scholarship and to build partnerships with these faculty. Archeology is a discipline where there has been growing interest in digital documentation of scholarship recently. The digital library of the American School for Classical Studies in Athens has developed a system for the management for archaeological data that supports semantic networking.
The use of the scholarly literature continues to evolve. Some scholars are using data-mining and other techniques on large publication sets such as JSTOR, which is supporting such use and providing a site, “Showcase,” where it brings together many of its advanced technology initiatives. This is an area of growing interest to many researchers, one where traditional publishers and aggregators have had difficulty structuring appropriate technical and licensing arrangements to facilitate such text mining, and JSTOR is trying to pioneer on several fronts here. Addressing the need for standard ways of citing data obtained through large, publicly available datasets is becoming a more pressing concern, and both producers and users of data have an interest in developing straightforward and viable systems. A project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) is examining potential solutions and will report on their progress.
In another, discipline-specific example of methods to link literature with information resources, Cornell librarians are working with faculty to develop a system, using OpenURL, to link citations in Classical literature with the many digital resources and services currently available in the Classics field.
Last year, CNI sponsored a workshop on authors, identity management and the scholarly communication system with the intention of understanding, connecting, and, where appropriate, helping to coordinate a range of developments related to authorial identity and name authority in the digital environment. As a follow-on to this conversation, Thomson Reuters will provide an update after their first year of experience with their ResearcherID system, which gives researchers the ability to create a unique, persistent identity and profile for their research output, and to use this tool to disambiguate citations to their work.
Following up on another thread from the CNI workshop, I’m very pleased we will have a report on a project called “People of the Founding Era,” which is developing tools that will help structure, record and share prosopographical information related to people represented in scholarly digital editions so that researchers may more easily explore, for example, groups such as farmers or slaves, and also to allow the scholars constructing such editions to more effectively build on each other’s work.
Finally, closer to traditional identity management and authorization concerns, we will be hosting a discussion on a number of issues related to the InCommon Federation and the development of infrastructure to support inter-institutional collaboration and resource sharing.
We’ll have several sessions focused on innovative technologies in a digital library design setting. In a project at the University of Kentucky, in partnership with the Kentuckiana Digital Library, they are designing a system to enable users to search audio files by word and then link to the exact spot on the audio where the word(s) occurs. The system employs a process of digital preparation that has an interface designed to mimic a video game. Another session will outline the goals and developments related to the adoption of the JPEG 2000 standard for image format.
Several sessions will explore software and workflow solutions that may have broad applicability. The Open Library Environment (OLE) project will provide an update on their work to develop a community-designed, open source alternative to libraries’ integrated library systems. At a more specialized level, Indiana University, in partnership with IBM, developed a digital library system for music that they hope to provide as open source software with additional partnerships from the community. At Northwestern University, they have developed a software project to create an automated workflow to link its book scanner to both the online public access catalog (OPAC) and the institutional repository.
Sessions that reflect on lessons from major digital library projects and critically examine efforts as they reach new stages or completion are an important part of CNI’s meetings. This spring, we will have an opportunity to learn from Katherine Kott, leader of the Digital Library Federation’s Aquifer project, as she will reflect on the collaborative initiative and draw conclusions that should benefit many other efforts.
Institutional repository services – and indeed repository services more broadly – continue to mature. I’ll host a session that will discuss the current state of play for institutional repositories broadly, including some coverage of a recent international meeting to map out strategies for networks of institutional repositories going forward. OCLC Programs and Research will share their perspectives on next steps for repository services based on some of their ongoing research. We will learn about the current status of DuraSpace, a potential service that would be developed jointly by the DSpace Foundation and Fedora Commons to overlay storage systems such as commerical storage “clouds” with additional functionality suitable for repository and preservation applications. A session by Rice University will provide their current thinking on how to structure partnership relationships in building repositories with collaborators outside of the institution. And a session by Duke University will focus on the organizational and technical infrastructure they have developed to manage more than 30 distinct collections of digital content and the tools that they believe could be useful to the community at large.
A number of sessions will explore what types of environments and services today’s information users, seekers, and creators need and how libraries and information technology providers are innovating to meet those needs. As a result of the difficult economic climate, many universities and colleges are postponing renovation and building projects. CNI’s Joan Lippincott will give some suggestions about strategies institutions can employ to improve facilities and services while waiting for major funding to become available. The University of Alabama will describe how the repurposing of some library space provided a platform for collaboration with other campus units.
We have seen an explosion of social networking and recommender systems and now some innovative services are emerging that take these technologies into academic, research and cultural settings. ARTstor is finding new ways to enhance the value of its collections and services. Recently, they released their Associated Images feature that uses collaborative filtering to anonymously mine user preference data. In their CNI session, ARTstor representatives will describe the choices they made in developing their software features and will encourage discussion by participants of how to provide particularly meaningful results to user communities. As another example of collaborative filtering technologies, the Ex Libris Group will report on its bX initiative, which leverages information gathered by link resolvers to recommend other resources of potential interest to users who make initial queries.
I think one of the most exciting areas today is the linkage between social networking systems, collections and exhibitions, and the practices of description, curation and contextualization. One of the best examples of this is the wonderful Flickr Commons program as a forum for such interactions, and I am delighted that the Library of Congress will be able to report on its project mounting collections of photographs in the Commons; this project has been unusually well studied and documented, and we can learn a great deal from their analysis.
A key technical underpinning for many kinds of social and scholarly interaction has been large-scale, cross-site annotation systems; progress on widely adopted and robust systems in this area has long been problematic. A late-breaking session led by Tim Cole will describe the plans for such a project, which has just received funding from The Andrew W. Mellon foundation.
As an outcome of a series of Mellon Foundation-sponsored summer workshops on scholarly communication, the University of Minnesota is creating a virtual research community site for the field of bioethics and related fields, called EthicShare. They will be exploring the capability of social networking tools and virtual communities in facilitating collaborative research and the role that libraries should play in providing support for these virtual organizations. As yet another example of applying social networking tools, ProQuest has developed “GradShare” to provide a virtual space where graduate students can share information about challenges they face; the site has been piloted with nine universities.
Many institutions are implementing strategies to capture and distribute reusable teaching and learning content; Northwestern University will describe their goals and how they are realized in their Media Space service. At Carleton College, a group carried out a research study to better understand the support for visual materials needed in the teaching and learning program; they learned about faculty concerns, types of curricular support needed by students and faculty, and student preferences for study spaces.
We face new leadership challenges in today’s environment, and information technology and library leaders are rethinking their roles and the ways they need to manage within the university. We will have two sessions that will explore leadership themes – a team from University of Minnesota will share a case study of the relationship of their centralized Office of Information Technology with other units across campus, emphasizing such issues as developing shared goals, balance of power, and realities of cross-functional work. A group of future leaders of research libraries will offer a session in which they identify key issues for the transformation of university libraries and report on a survey of their peers, examining their perceptions of changing user needs, organizational structures, and the need for forging new relationships within and beyond the campus.
Kevin Guthrie of Ithaka will provide an update on the realignment of Ithaka, JSTOR, and Aluka and the implications for the community. We will have a session on the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Hidden Collections project, a large-scale national initiative to provide greater visibility to the contents of previously uncataloged special collections and archival resources funded by the Mellon Foundation.
Finally, I have invited members of the program team at GENI, the NSF-funded Global Environment for Network Innovations, to join us to present an update on this major program intended to create the next generation of networking research test bed. GENI, currently in a design and prototyping phase, promises to play an important role in the development of new protocols, distributed architectures and network based services. I’d invite you to think creatively about how GENI might be used for research in next-generation networked information applications.
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 in Minneapolis this April for what promises to be another extremely worthwhile 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 on the meeting.
Coalition for Networked Information