Introduction to CNI & Program Plan


Download PDF of CNI 2013-14 Program Plan

Introduction to CNI

Background and Leadership

The Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), a joint initiative of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and EDUCAUSE, promotes the use of digital information technology to advance scholarship and education. In establishing the Coalition under the leadership of founding Executive Director Paul Evan Peters, these sponsor organizations recognized the need to broaden the community’s thinking beyond issues of network connectivity and bandwidth to encompass digital content and advanced applications to create, share, disseminate, and analyze such content in the service of research and education. Reaping the benefits of the Internet for scholarship, research, and education demanded–and continues to demand–new partnerships, new institutional roles, and new technologies and infrastructure. CNI seeks to advance these collaborations, to explore these new roles, and to catalyze the development and deployment of the necessary technology base.

Since its founding in 1990, CNI has addressed a broad and diverse array of issues related to the development and use of digital information in research and education environments. As the premier organization fostering connections and collaboration between library and information technology communities, we represent the interests of a wide range of member organizations from higher education, publishing, networking and telecommunications, information technology, government agencies, foundations, museums, libraries, and library organizations.

CNI is supported entirely from dues paid by its over 200 member institutions. Membership in the Coalition is open to all organizations–both for-profit and not-for-profit–that share CNI’s commitment to furthering the development of digital information in the networked environment. We view our members as partners in advancing the Coalition’s mission. Fall and spring membership meetings are CNI’s flagship events, bringing together hundreds of representatives for a comprehensive update on critical issues.

CNI’s program is guided by a Steering Committee to which sponsor organizations ARL and EDUCAUSE each appoint three representatives drawn from their member leadership; the current roster of Steering Committee members appears on the inside front cover of the printed Program Plan and on our website. Three “at large” representatives on the Steering Committee contribute additional perspectives. The chief executives of ARL, EDUCAUSE, and CNI serve as ex officio members of the committee.

CNI Executive Director Clifford Lynch has led the organization since 1997. Joan Lippincott, CNI’s Associate Executive Director, has served since fall 1990. For more information about the Coalition’s history and contributions, see the CNI website, www.cni.org.

Program Themes

CNI’s work is structured around three central themes that we believe are the essential foundations of the vision of advancing scholarship and intellectual productivity:

Developing and Managing Networked Information Content
The Coalition has played a central role in ensuring that the network richly engages the needs of scholarship, teaching and learning. We bring together many diverse groups that create and manage content, and work with these communities to advance the deployment and stewardship of networked information resources. Changes in scholarly practices (particularly those shorthanded by “e-science” or “e-research”) and the development of large-scale digitized collections require a close and continuing examination of information creation, aggregation, exchange, reuse, and preservation throughout the research and education community and society broadly; these developments, and the evolving roles of higher education institutions and cultural memory organizations in facilitating and supporting them, are a central part of the CNI agenda. Working within these contexts and others, CNI furthers the development of economic, policy, social and legal frameworks to sustain the creation and management of digital information and to facilitate its access.

Transforming Organizations, Professions, and Individuals
The pervasiveness of ubiquitously accessible digital information is transforming institutions, professions, and the practices of learning and scholarship. CNI focuses on the unprecedented need for collaboration among libraries, information technology and instructional technology groups, faculty, museums, archives, university presses, and other units in order to achieve success in this environment. In addition, we promote new alliances and partnerships with publishers, information technology and network service providers, scholarly societies, government, and other sectors. Organizations must understand their constituencies and adapt their services and facilities to current needs; they must develop and share new strategies, policies, and best practices. Professions need to develop new competencies and enter into new dialogues that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries. CNI seeks to facilitate these collaborations and dialogues and to help professions and institutions work together in program strategy formulation.

Building Technology, Standards, and Infrastructure
The networked information environment relies on the development and deployment of standards and infrastructure components in order to enable the creation, discovery, use, and management of digital information on the Internet. The ability to use collections of resources in a unified, consistent fashion is essential and requires a continuing focus on interoperability of services. At the same time, promising new technologies need to be explored, assessed and tested, and sometimes adapted to the needs of the CNI community. No one institution acting alone can build the needed infrastructure or explore the full range of new technologies as they become available; it requires a coordinated, community-wide effort that also reaches out to other communities, such as the world of e-research. CNI seeks to highlight links between technology and policies at all levels, to offer a context for collaborative experiments and test beds, and to serve as a focal point for sharing knowledge about new technologies.

The specific program initiatives that further CNI’s themes evolve from year to year. The initiatives and strategies planned for 2013-2014 are described in the Program Plan portion of this publication; most build upon and continue efforts already underway. Many of the initiatives seek to make strategic progress relevant to more than one theme.

It is important to recognize that the digital information environment is still changing rapidly. CNI is continually adapting its activities in response to new developments and opportunities. Indeed, CNI believes agility is essential in the current environment and invites a continuous dialogue with its members on the need for additional program initiatives. Because of this, the 2013-2014 Program Plan should be viewed as a snapshot of our thinking about priorities and opportunities as of late 2013 that will inevitably develop further during the coming program year.

Policy and Consultative Activities

CNI acts as an important and respected voice on behalf of our community in a wide range of national and international policy venues. This is accomplished through our participation in the ongoing scholarly dialogue; through collaboration with key funding agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and Jisc; through work on advisory groups of organizations such as ITHAKA, OCLC, the American Library Association (ALA), and Microsoft Research; through service on numerous visiting and advisory committees for our member institutions; through contributions to standards efforts and standards organizations such as the National Information Standards Organization (NISO); and through participation in organizations such as the Internet Society and the Library Publishing Coalition.

Of particular note in this area are our recent contributions to the Library of Congress’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) and the National Digital Stewardship Alliance, to various studies and programs conducted by the U.S. National Research Council, particularly in conjunction with the Board on Research Data and Information (BRDI), to the Campus Bridging Task Force of the NSF Advisory Committee on Cyberinfrastructure, to the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access, the NSF-funded study on software sustainability, and the ALA Working Group on Libraries and Digital Content.

As a contributor and participant within a complex ecosystem of organizations that share common interests, CNI works with Internet2 on advanced networking applications and standards; with the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) on scholarly communication, cyberinfrastructure, and preservation issues; with the New Media Consortium on the exploration and use of new media and new technologies in higher education; with the Learning Spaces Collaboratory on development of principles for technology-enabled spaces that enhance learning; and with ALA on policy and professional development activities. Our contributions extend to the programs of our sponsor organizations, ARL and EDUCAUSE, particularly to the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) and their policy and security programs.

In addition to specific initiatives to address CNI’s overarching program themes, the Coalition actively conducts an ongoing program of collaboration and advocacy to advance the development of digital information and its role in transforming organizations and scholarly activities. To this end, CNI works with scholarly societies, government agencies, publishers, and others. CNI is also committed to leadership development within the community and contributes regularly to the CLIR fellowship programs and the ARL Research Library Leadership Fellows (RLLF) program.

On an international level, we collaborate with other organizations concerned with networked information, including the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) and Jisc in the UK, the German Initiative for Networked Information (DINI), the German Research Foundation (DFG), Denmark’s Electronic Research Library (DEFF), the SURF Foundation (the Dutch higher education and research partnership organization for network services and information and communications technology), and the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR).

CNI works to provide our community with frameworks for understanding key networked information issues so that institutions can develop strategies to address these issues on the local, regional, or national level. We write white papers, reports, and articles, we present talks at conferences, and we make institutional visits that may involve meetings with campus leaders and presentations at public events and seminars.

CNI alerts its community to our organizational activities, significant new publications, and important developments in the field via the CNI website, the CNI-ANNOUNCE e-mail list, and the CNI News RSS. Information about CNI’s activities is also available through Twitter (twitter.com/cni_org), which serves as a complement to other communication channels. We also make video of selected sessions from our membership meetings publicly available from CNI’s YouTube and Vimeo channels (www. youtube.com/cnivideo, vimeo.com/channels/cni).


The Coalition’s semiannual membership meetings, scheduled for December 9-10, 2013, in Washington, DC, and March 31-April 1, 2014, in St. Louis, MO, highlight activities related to CNI’s program themes, focus attention on significant new thinking and technology developments, and provide opportunities for members to showcase and discuss a wide range of emerging issues and developments in networked information. Some participants have developed knowledge communities within CNI and use the meetings as an opportunity to share ideas on a particular aspect of networked information and to incubate new initiatives. Each member organization is invited to send two delegates, typically a senior information technologist and a senior librarian. Meeting participants are introduced to new developments that may reshape institutional plans in a forum that encourages collaborations and dialogues with others who share common interests.

CNI has a long history of being the first to offer discussion of major networked information developments, including the early Web browser Mosaic, the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Digital Libraries Program, the Google Books Scanning program, and NSF’s DataNet initiative. CNI regularly co-sponsors an event in partnership with Jisc as part of our ongoing collaboration with our UK colleagues. CNI occasionally convenes invitational or public workshops to advance specific elements of its program plan.

We also serve as co-sponsor for other meetings relevant to the CNI agenda. This year these events include the North Carolina State University Libraries, CNI, and University of Calgary co-sponsored conference “Designing Libraries for the 21st Century,” on October 6-8, 2013 in Raleigh, NC, as well as the 9th International Digital Curation Conference, “Commodity, Catalyst, or Change-Agent? Data-Driven Transformations in Research, Education, Business & Society,” to be held February 24-16, 2014, in San Francisco, CA.

Additionally, CNI is serving as a cooperating organization for several other conferences, including: Aligning National Approaches to Digital Preservation (ANADP II) on November 18-20, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain; the Personal Digital Archiving Conference in Indianapolis, IN, on April 10-11, 2014; the Society for Imaging Science and Technology (IS&T) Archiving Conference on May 13-16, 2014, in Berlin, Germany; the Open Repositories 2014 meeting in Helsinki, Finland on June 9-13, 2014; and the combined Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL)/Theory & Practice of Digital Libraries (TPDL) 2014 in London on September 8-12, 2014.

PROGRAM PLAN 2013-2014

Developing and Managing Networked Information Content

Transforming Organizations, Professions, and Individuals

Building Technology, Standards, and Infrastructure

Last updated:  Sunday, December 7th, 2014