Cornell University Library
Report to the Digital Library Federation
January 15 2001


  • Collections, Services, and Systems
  • Projects and Programs
  • Specific Digital Library Challenges

    I. Collections, Services, and Systems

    A. Collections

    1. Primarily Text

      City of New York, Office of Collective Bargaining Decisions
      The Martin P. Catherwood Library at Cornell's School of Industrial & Labor Relations, by special arrangement, makes collective bargaining decisions from this New York City agency available full-text in a searchable archive. The Office of Collective Bargaining is an impartial, tri-partite agency created by local law as authorized by the New York State's Taylor Law. It was established by the City of New York after negotiations and agreement with unions representing City employees. The OCB provides assistance to management (the City), and labor (unions representing city employees) in resolving their differences.

      Death Penalty Web Site
      In collaboration with the Cornell Law School Death Penalty project, the Law Library makes available a variety of resources devoted to the subject.

      EAD/XML Finding Aids
      The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections has begun a major effort to convert several thousand paper and electronic finding aids to Encoded Archival Description (EAD), encoded in XML. It builds on local encoding standards developed under an earlier experiment with EAD delivery options using XSL Most of the conversion is expected to be completed in-house. For delivery, XML encoded finding aids will be converted to HTML using XSL style sheets. Currently this is done in batch, but dynamic conversion is being explored. Further work will add guide navigation functionality and collection-wide search capability.

      The Martin P. Catherwood Library at Cornell's School of Industrial & Labor Relations collects key materials on workplace issues by special arrangement with government offices, commissions, task forces, and non-governmental associations. The Electronic Archive has established itself as a unique repository for materials that encompass any and all aspects of the employer-employee relationship. Many items, like the Glass Ceiling Commission materials, are officially archived at this site. Researchers can rely on these items remaining available for years to come. Access is free to the public.

      The Law Library collaborates with Cornell Information Technologies and the Hein Publishing Company in making historical law reviews available over the Internet, both in image form for authenticity, as well as uncorrected OCR text to allow for manipulation of the text.

      International Court of Justice Web Mirror Site
      In partnership with the International Court of Justice, the Cornell Law Library created the first official Web site for the Court, and was instrumental in the Court starting its own official Web site. The Law Library makes available for the Americas complete and simultaneous access to the full-text decisions, documents, and other materials produced by the World Court. The Law Library captures this information twice a year in order to archive the entire Web collection as presented at a given time. This ensures permanent access in Web format in a way similar to the various editions of a print publication.

      International Labor Organization Web Mirror Site
      In partnership with the International Labor Office in Geneva, Switzerland, the Cornell Law Library makes available for the Americas complete and simultaneous access to the full text reports, documents, and other materials produced by this distinguished organization. The Law Library intends to capture this information twice a year, in order to archive the entire Web collection as presented at a given time. This ensures permanent access in Web format in a way similar to the various editions of a print publication.

      Permanent Court of Arbitration Web Site
      The Law Library cooperates with the Permanent Court of Arbitration, in the Hague, the Netherlands, in making several of their documents available.

      UN21 Interest Group Newsletter
      The Law Library publishes and archives the newsletter from the American Society of International Law.

      USDA Report System
      The USDA Economics and Statistics System contains nearly 300 reports and datasets from the economics agencies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These materials cover U.S. and international agriculture and related topics. Most reports are text files that contain time-sensitive information. Most data sets are in spreadsheet format and include time-series data that are updated yearly. This system complements the Cornell Library's USDA Reports by Subscription service.

      Workplace Issues Today
      The Martin P. Catherwood Library at Cornell's School of Industrial & Labor Relations established Workplace Issues Today (WIT) in 1999 as a selective news center where faculty, students and interested public could go for the late breaking news on workplace issues. All news items are placed in a searchable archive in the hope that it can represent, in an abbreviated form, a chronology of workplace issues of major concern to the public. In addition, it should give some guidance to the researcher about the who, what, when, where, and how of the workplace over time. One can subscribe to the free e-mail service and get vital news about the workplace delivered to the desktop. WIT is published Monday through Friday mornings, except University holidays. Access is free to the public.

    2. Primarily Visual Image

      Beautiful Birds: Masterpieces from the Hill Ornithology Collection
      Beautiful Birds traces the development of ornithological illustration in the 18th and 19th centuries and highlights the changing techniques - from metal and wood engraving to chromolithography - during that period. This site highlights Cornell University Library's Hill Ornithology Collection, which chronicles the pre-1900 development of ornithology as a science, and depicts the growth of bird illustration as an art form, with particular concern for comprehensiveness in North American ornithology.

      The Contemporary African Artists Database
      This database is the result of a Rockefeller and Ford Foundation funded initiative designed to document and disseminate contemporary African art, as well as promote networking between African artists and art institutions. The computerized database will also be used to generate a series of bio-bibliographic dictionaries. The bio-bibliographic information is stored on a Cornell University Library Macintosh server; artists' images are stored on a Cornell Institute for Digital Collections image server. Currently, the database is accessible only to authorized personnel. For assistance contact us at

      Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
      15,000 images of works of art contained within the Johnson Museum of Art are currently available for viewing using Luna Insight's Browser Insight(r) II software which allows for several search options in database access. Cornell's art repository includes paintings, prints, sculptures, and published graphical images (woodcuts, etc.). By putting the collection on-line, students, faculty, visitors, and users on the Internet will be able to electronically explore and research the collection from their home, office, or one of the workstations in the museum. Users can learn about artists and their works, and use Insight tools to view high quality images and groups of images.

    3. Text, Sound, and Moving Image

      GloPAC, the Global Performing Arts Consortium
      The Global Performing Arts Consortium is a group of organizations and individuals committed to providing interactive, multimedia and multilingual tools to enable people everywhere to explore the diversity and depth of the world's performing arts. Two Performing Arts Databases (PADs) are under construction: a global database (GPAD; formerly DRAMMA) and a Japanese database (JPAD, formerly HANA). The databases include images, sound and video clips with detailed descriptions in standardized formats to enable effective cross-cultural searching. Funding is being sought now to further the work in metadata definition and database development.

      Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
      A multimedia online exhibit that presents original documents on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of March 25, 1911 in New York City, in which 146 factory workers, mostly immigrant women, met their untimely and tragic death due to poor safety conditions within the factory. The incident triggered outrage and protests that resulted in the enactment of labor protective legislation in New York State. The exhibit gathers news reports, photographs, letters, interview audio files, monograph excerpts, investigative reports, political cartoons, and other documentation. Includes a list of victims and survivors and a bibliography. Presented by the Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives at Cornell University in cooperation with the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE).

    B. Services

    Cooperative Digital Reference Service Project
    The Cornell University Library is participating in The Cooperative Digital Reference Service Project, an international effort led by the Library of Congress, which is intended to create a system of linked reference services. The Cornell Library participated in the initial planning and all pilot phases of this project.

    Creation Station
    The CreationStation project is a collaborative effort between the Cornell University Library and the Cornell Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Group. In the first semester of the project, eleven high-end computers were available in four locations on campus, three libraries including Engineering Library, Mann Library and Uris Library, and the HCI Lab. In addition to the workstations themselves, each facility also had digital cameras, digital video cameras, scanners, quickcams and software for creating multimedia presentations. Students from three different classes used the facilities to create multimedia presentations for their classes. There were also a significant number of students from outside these classes who used the facilities. Now in its second semester, the CreationStation project has made several important advances. The CreationStation Lab in Uris Library added hardware to enable the conversion of analog video to digital video. We also updated several of the software packages available in all the CreationStation locations. The number of classes participating in the project has increased to five and there has been a dramatic increase in the use of CreationStation equipment and facilities by students not enrolled in these classes.

    The Cornell Law Library annotates new law-related Web sites, creating a free e-mail subscription service and a fully searchable database, complete with key-words.

    International Association of Law Libraries (IALL) Web Site
    In cooperation with the IALL, the Law Library hosts the site of this international organization.

    Research Databases
    The Law Library authors a series of extensive research guides, including the "Foreign and International Law Sources on the Internet: Annotated," the "French Law Guide," and many other content-rich research guides.

    USDA Reports by Subscription
    This is an e-mail subscription service providing quick and timely access to the agricultural and economic estimates that are available in the USDA Reports system maintained by the Albert R. Mann Library, Cornell University. Through this service, subscribers receive the reports of their choice within three hours of their publication via email. This service complements the Cornell Library's USDA Report System.

    C. Systems

    In January 2000, the Cornell University Library installed Atlas Systems' ILLiad interlibrary loan system. Library personnel can now serve the Cornell Community better because all data about ILL requests and processing is stored in a searchable database. Patrons can get information about the status of requests through the Web at any time. Copyright clearance, which was previously processed by hand, is now automatically generated. An electronic document delivery service that allows copies of articles requested through interlibrary loan to be delivered directly to patrons' desktops, as well as implementation of the ILLiad Lending module, is scheduled for early 2001.

    Voyager 2000
    On December 29, 2000, the Cornell University Library migrated from the Voyager 99 version of Endeavor Information Systems Inc.'s library management system to Voyager 2000. To access the library catalog visit the Library Gateway

    II. Projects and Programs

    Savings America's Treasures
    The Library is now working on a grant-funded project to digitize and conserve the approximately 10,000 anti-slavery pamphlets in its Rare and Manuscript Collection. The grant runs through CY 2002, but enough materials should be digitized by this spring to begin to do some testing.

    A.D. White Photo Collection
    The Andrew Dickson White Architectural Photographs document a wide range of 19th- and early 20th-century architecture of Europe and the United States, including structures, city streets and habitats that have vanished due to wars and urban development. Many of the photographs are valuable because they represent the work of important photographers, including William James Stillman, three albums of oriental works by Bonfils and a photogravure album of Edouard-Denis Baldus. The collection has received substantive curatorial attention and conservation treatment since September, 1999, when it was awarded a grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation. The goal of the A. D. White Photographs Project is to make accessible to the public a fully-catalogued, appropriately-housed collection of approximately 11,600 architectural photographs previously gathered in a disorganized, uncatalogued group of over 15,000 images that had suffered from inappropriate storage conditions and neglect. The project is proceeding toward its goal according to a schedule that consists of four phases, namely: curatorial organization, conservation, cataloguing, and digital access.

    CTHEORY Multimedia
    CTHEORY Multimedia is a new media site for electronic art projects and new media theory. The site complements CTHEORY, an existing electronic review of theory, culture, and society. CTHEORY Multimedia aims to achieve status as a premiere site of new media art and analysis. The Cornell Library is providing staff and systems necessary to publish and maintain networked availability of the CTHEORY Multimedia site.

    Development of a Distributed Digital Library of Mathematical Monographs
    This collaborative project of the University of Michigan Library, Cornell University Library and the State and University Library Gottingen was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. In the course of this project we will develop a realistic interoperable mechanism capable of unifying a single type of resource (retrodigitized books) within a single discipline (mathematics) across multiple access systems at multiple institutions. After a thorough evaluation of the effects and benefits, the system, if successful, will be maintained by the three libraries to allow users to access and exploit these collections in a new and more efficient way.

    Frick Project
    The Cornell University Library and the Frick Art Reference Library in New York City were engaged in a collaborative project to create compatible databases of digital images from the study collections of the two institutions. The planning phase of this project began last spring and included choosing materials from the collections, identifying media types and formats, determining the scanning requirements of the materials, producing sample digitized images, choosing appropriate and compatible database fields, and creating a test database. The Frick project has ended; the A.D. White Photo Collection project continues these efforts.

    Institute of Museum and Library Services Project (2000 National Leadership Grants for Libraries, Preservation or Digitization Awards):
    This two year project will digitize the core historical literature of home economics; explore integration with the Library's online catalog and interoperability with existing digital repositories at Cornell; and define a set of model workflows for capturing metadata for access and preservation of digital materials.

    On-Demand Scanning Service/Feasibility Study
    With increasing demand from researchers and with the recent installation of a high-resolution digital camera within the Library, a feasibility study researching the need for and methods of providing an on-demand scanning service campus-wide is currently being conducted.

    Preserving Cornell's Digital Image Collection
    The Cornell University Library is completing an IMLS funded project, "Preserving Cornell's Digital Image Collections: Implementing an Archiving Strategy," to plan and implement an archiving solution for its digital image collections. These collections, consisting of over 2.5 million images, have been created through a series of projects over the last decade. The project will conclude with the development of recommendations and guidelines for the creation of a central depository for digital image materials.

    Project Euclid
    Project Euclid is Cornell's principle electronic publishing initiative whose mission is to advance affordable scholarly communication in the field of theoretical and applied mathematics and statistics. The end result should be the creation of a vibrant online information community that is based on a healthy balance of commercial enterprises, scholarly societies, and independent publishers. Project Euclid's goal is to help independent publishers in making the transition to the online environment in a way that will help them stay competitive with the large commercial journals. Euclid will comply with the Open Archive Initiative. This cooperative venture between the Cornell University Library and Duke University Press is funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

    Risk Assessment Project
    The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) sponsored a risk assessment study conducted by Cornell University Library in 1999 that focused on the file format risks inherent in migration as a preservation strategy for digital materials. The report is available from CLIR.

    Scholars and researchers worldwide will be able to access online full texts/images of Icelandic sagas and epics, handwritten and printed. This large scale digital collection has been created through the combined efforts of the National and University Library of Iceland, the Arni Magnusson Institute in Iceland, and Cornell University Library, which owns the Fiske Icelandic Collection.

    III. Specific Digital Library Challenges

    Address the challenge of managing and distributing access to digital sound and moving images in a comparable manner to our current support for text-based materials.
    Sound and moving image processing and network dissemination is the next major challenge for Cornellīs digital library. The size of sound and video collections presents storage, processing, and distribution challenges. A pilot implementation for music distribution and support for classroom instruction has been installed. The installation has been operating smoothly and student use was supported during the fall 2000 semester. The next step in the challenge will be to accompany digital audio with digital scores and performances, further enhancing the ability to create music digitally by Cornell faculty and students.

    Develop functional interoperability for integrated access to our various digital collections.
    A major step in developing functional interoperability and integrated access across CUL's digital collections has been achieved by making the Core Historical Literature of Agriculture digital collection accessible using the same hardware and software platforms as that used with the Making of America digital collection. In addition, an NSF/DFG sponsored project (see 'Development of a Distributed Digital Library of Mathematical Monographs' under Projects above) is underway that seeks to integrate search capabilities across digital mathematical monographs held cross-institutionally and cross-nationally (Cornell University, University of Michigan, and Goettingen University in Germany).

    Developing an infrastructure for the electronic publishing of journals and expand electronic publishing at Cornell.
    A plan for a joint project between the Cornell University Library and Cornell University Press is being developed to broaden the use of electronic publishing for press publications and to potentially apply this same approach to other scholarly communication generated at Cornell. The Library has recently entered into an agreement to provide the production services (staff and resources) to publish CTHEORY Multimedia (see under Projects above), furthering the Library's development in the realm of electronic publishing.