The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) is deeply interested in fostering the development of digital libraries as a resource for research and learning. We are particularly interested in helping policy makers, funding organizations, and academic leaders understand what social and institutional investments in digital libraries are necessary to organize, maintain, and provide access to the growing body of digital materials for scholarly purposes. The development of digital libraries is proving to be very complex, requiring much intensive and detailed work. At present, we seek to help accomplish this work and advance our interest in digital libraries primarily by serving as administrative home to the Digital Library Federation (DLF).
The Digital Library Federation was formed in 1995 as a consortium of 15 research institutions with a common goal to create a system of independent, distributed repositories for digital works. The founding members of the federation aspired to develop such distributed repositories into a globally accessible virtual library for research and education, one that provides good local service while ensuring that the value of the distributed works overall is more than the sum of its parts. The members of the federation committed themselves to a shared investment in developing the means to "federate" libraries of digital works.
An important first step for the DLF was to agree on a definition of digital libraries. Its members agreed on a broad interpretation:
At the end of the fiscal year, DLF partners numbered 23. In addition, there are four DLF allies: the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), the National Archives and Records Agency (NARA), OCLC, Inc., and the Research Libraries Group (RLG). During his first year of work as director of the Digital Library Federation, Donald Waters visited DLF partners and allies to learn about their organization and their existing and planned projects. The visits convinced him that the success of digital library efforts will be determined by the extent to which they address or help achieve the following goals:
organizing, providing access to, and preserving knowledge that is born digital
leveraging digital library facilities for managing intellectual works in support of efforts to redesign the scholarly communication process
providing an accessible and durable knowledge base that helps improve the quality and lower the costs of education
extending the reach of research and higher education to new segments of the citizenry
With these goals in mind, the Digital Library Federation agreed on four broad program priorities:
focus attention on libraries of materials that are born digital
integrate digital materials into the fabric of academic life
stimulate the development of a core digital library infrastructure
develop the organizational support needed for managing digital libraries effectively
The DLF initiated the following projects in response to these program priorities.