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DLF Director's Office
Report to the Digital Library Federation
January 15, 2002


  • Catalytic initiatives
  • Research
  • Standards and practices
  • Publications
  • Communications

    The DLF is pleased to welcome New York University to the membership. NYU will be represented on the DLF Steering Committee by Carol Mandel, Dean of Libraries.

    The National Archives and Records Administration a long-time ally of the DLF, has joined the DLF as a full partner, and will be represented on the Steering Committee by Ken Thibodeau.

    I. Catalytic initiatives

    DLF members have endorsed the need for and funcational requirements of a service that registers the existence of digitally reformatted monographs and serials. Prototype development of such a service was discussed with representatives of OCLC at the DLF Forum in November 2001 where a plan to develop a prototype service was initiated. The November meeting also revised the functional specification so that the registry could incorporate born digital materials such as e-books and electronic scholarly journals.

    Archivists' workbench
    The DLF is supporting an initiative to investigate functional requirements of and a business case for a tool that will assist in the construction of EADs that conform to minimally defined good practices. The initial planning meeting took place in Santa Diego in February 2002. A report on the meting is expected imminently.

    The DLF is supporting an initiative to investigate the use of the FEDORA architecture in developing persistent and interoperable digital repositories. The initiative was kicked off at a meeting of FEDORA implementers held in Washington DC on November 9-10, 2001. It has received significant support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and will be reporting on aspects of its work from the DLF website.

    II. Research

    Open Source Software (OSS) for libraries
    The DLF convened a meeting to consider possible roles and values of OSS for libraries. The meeting recommended a number of practical steps including some formal assessment of the costs and benefits to libraries through their development and use of OSS. An author for the study is being sought. In addition, participants in the meantime are developing a registry that makes information about relevant OSS more readily available and provides opportunities for OSS tools that are listed in the registry to be reviewed, commented upon, etc. A report of the meeting is available from http://www.diglib.org/architectures/ossrep.htm. A prototype registry of OSS software is available at http://dewey.library.nd.edu/ossnlibraries/portal/.

    Perception and use of the scholarly information landscape
    The DLF and Outsell Inc. have designed a study to illuminate how students and faculty at universities and colleges perceive of and use scholarly information in their research, teaching, and learning. The study, when completed in April 2002, will assist libraries in their strategic planning by demonstrating how and to what extent the library currently contributes to that information landscape. In July and August 2001, Outsell and the DLF designed a survey questionnaire upon which the study will be based. In September 2001 DLF received funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to implement the study. Data collection is now complete and the study moves into its data analysis phase. More details about the study are available from http://www.diglib.org/use.htm.

    National Digital Information Preservation Program
    The DLF's director plays a role in a contract between the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and the Library of Congress whereby CLIR supports the Library of Congress in planning the national program. In particular, the director has convened a group of experts to identify and document challenges and opportunities involved in preserving various genres of born digital materials. He has also commissioned a survey of national digital preservation activities taking place outside the US. It is anticipated that these materials will become available in some form as the Library of Congress develops its plan.

    III. Standards and good practices

    Benchmarks for digitally reformatted serials and monographs
    DLF members have endorsed the idea of such a benchmark and recommended a number of modest changes. The final and revised version of the benchmark as endorsed is available at http://www.diglib.org/standards/bmarkfin.htm.

    Framework for good practices in the development of good digital collections
    DLF has contributed to a forum convened by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to develop a framework for considering and promoting standards and good practices as may be adopted by the library community to guide the development of persistent and interoperable digital collections. After review by the DLF, the framework has been endorsed in a statement that recommends some modest changes. The statement is available from http://www.diglib.org/standards/imlsframe.htm.

    IV. Publications

    The following DLF-commissioned reports have been published by CLIR since the last Newsletter issue

    • Usage and Usability Assessment: Library Practices and Concerns (January 2002), by Denise Troll Covey. This report offers a survey of the methods that are being deployed at leading digital libraries to assess the use and usability of their online collections and services. Focusing on 24 Digital Library Federation member libraries, the study's author, Distinguished DLF Fellow Denise Troll Covey, conducted numerous interviews with library professionals who are engaged in assessment. The report describes the application, strengths, and weaknesses of assessment techniques that include surveys, focus groups, user protocols, and transaction log analysis. Covey's work is also an essential methodological guidebook. For each method that she covers, she is careful to supply a definition, explain why and how libraries use the method, what they do with the results, and what problems they encounter. The report includes an extensive bibliography on more detailed methodological information, and descriptions of assessment instruments that have proved particularly effective.

    • Scholarly Work in the Humanities and the Evolving Information Environment (December 2001) by William S. Brockman, Laura Neumann, Carole L. Palmer, Tonyia J. Tidline. As the scholarly information environment changes, so do the needs, expectations, and behaviors of users. Assessing and responding to those changes is essential for the academic library so that it may continue in support of the scholarly mission. The authors of this report have formally examined how humanities scholars conduct and collate their research. The study was based on a small sample of scholars; nonetheless, the results are powerfully suggestive of ways in which academic libraries can adapt to and develop in a rapidly changing environment. In particular, the findings emphasize how important it is for libraries to chart their evolutionary course in close consultation with scholarly user communities. This study results from the fruitful cross-fertilization between the scholar concerned with aspects of information science and the librarian concerned with delivering operational information services.

      Building and Sustaining Digital Collections: Models for Libraries and Museums (August 2001) by Abby Smith. In February 2001, the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and the National Initiative for a Networked Cultural Heritage (NINCH) convened a meeting to discuss how museums and libraries are building digital collections and what business models are available to sustain them. A group of museum and library senior executives met with business and legal experts, technologists, and funders to discuss the challenges that cultural institutions face when putting collections online and to identify models for sustainability that support the core missions without contravening the internal cultures of nonprofit entities. Using examples of six enterprises-JSTOR, HighWire Press, The International Center for Photography and George Eastman House, Questia Media, Inc., Art Museum Network, and Fathom-the report illustrates the differing approaches being used to extend the reach of collections and services online.

    • Selection and Presentation of Commercially Available Electronic Resources: Issues and Practices (July 2001) by Timothy D. Jewell. This report is the second in a series commissioned by the DLF to identify and review digital collection development strategies and practices. It provides an in-depth look at how several research libraries select, license, present, and support the use of commercial online materials. Uncovering a variety of practices, author Timothy Jewell identifies those that are proving to be most effective integrating commercial online materials into library collections. He includes a decision tool that emphasizes and supports strategic planning, and encourages careful consideration of how libraries' functions and professional staff are organized. He also supplies a reference tool, citing working papers and operational guidelines that libraries rely on but rarely "publish." Finally, the author frames an important and practical development agenda by encouraging libraries to collaborate in designing information systems capable of organizing the detailed and often dynamic information they need to maintain about their commercial holdings.

    V. Communications

    • The DLF has prepared a number of information sheets that briefly describe the organization and its numerous initiatives. The sheets are available electronically from the DLF website and in print. The printed materials are available to members at no cost.

    • The DLF Fall Forum 2001 took place in Pittsburgh on November 16-18, 2001. The forum was by all accounts a great success and attracted more than 140 participants.

    • The DLF Spring Forum 2002 will take place on May 10-12, 2002 in Chicago Illinois. As in previous forums, papers and panel discussions will deal with all aspects of the digital library. There will, however, be a special emphasis on interoperability - what it is, why it is significant for research libraries and their patrons, and how it may be achieved. The topic will be approached from all its many technological, organizational, definitional, political and other aspects. More details about the forum, including a call for papers and panel discussions, are available from http://www.diglib.org/forums/spr2002/spring2002.htm.

    Please send comments or suggestions.
    Last updated: Tuesday August 14 2001
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