Digital Library Federation. Report from the Office of the DirectorD Greenstein
13 April 2000
1. Work within DLF Program areas
Work in the following areas is in its formative stages. It is being advanced in small groups convened initially by conference call to define research and information sharing agenda, and to identify the mechanisms through which those agenda may be developed across the DLF. Some activities have matured to the stage of having drafted problem statements and defined next steps. Where these exist, they are linked in this document and available from the DLF's internal (username and password restricted) web site.
1.1. Digital library technologies and architectures
The "architecture committee" is being reconvened to (1) identify and stimulate work that helps to define, clarify, or develop prototypes for digital library systems and system components; (2) scan the larger technical environment for potentially important trends and practices; (3) encourage technology transfer and information between and among DLF members; and (4) communicate technical directions and accomplishments of the DLF to a wider audience. The Committee has the following initiatives on its agenda:
1.2. Data and metadata formats and their use in digital libraries
A group is being formed to develop a framework within which the DLF members can evaluate local data and metadata creation and management practices with a view to identifying good and possibly best practices. At its initial meeting, the group is expected to identify and set priorities for work on data and metadata formats that are commonly encountered in digital libraries and to establish a framework for evaluating those formats. A draft problem statement focusing the group's activities is available.
1.3. Developing digital collections
Discussions are underway about work in this broad area. There is significant interest in evaluating the variety of practices that members employ to develop and maintain their online collections. The aim is to identify best practice and to share expertise that exists across the membership. Topics being considered include:
1.4. Users, Use, User Support, and User ServicesTwo areas have been identified as needing attention:
1.5. Digital preservation
The DLF is working closely with CLIR and CNI in an effort to gain some experience in archiving electronic commercial journals. In its developmental phase, the initiative will seek to document the minimum requirements of a digital archival repository. A draft requirements statement has been prepared and is being reviewed by three groups representing (1) research libraries and other organizations that have a stated interest in establishing digital archival repositories for the management of selected scholarly commercial content (2) electronic publishers with a stated interest in exploring strategic alliances with those repositories and (3) individuals with copyright expertise drawn from research libraries and electronic publishers.
1.6. Roles and responsibilities of the 21st century University research library
Selected DLF directors have expressed an interested in gathering information that may help inform local decision making about the library's strategic and service directions, its organization and its funding. In designing a research and information sharing agenda, the group may begin by identifying areas where survey of existing practice and research into new areas may help to articulate:
2. The DLF Forum
The second DLF Forum was held at Emory University on 31 March - 2 April. It focused on organizational and strategic aspects of digital library development and was by all accounts a great success. The Forum provided a valuable opportunity for DLF members to exchange views and experiences. It also provided an opportunity to inform future DLF initiatives and the focus and organization of future Forums. Thanks are due to participants, to those who presented papers (all of the highest quality), to the organizing committee, to our hosts at Emory University, and above all to Rebecca Graham. The next Forum is expected to take place in September or October 2000 and will be hosted by the University of Chicago.
3. Office of the Director
We are seeking a communications officer, an Administrative Assistant, and a replacement for the Research Officer, Rebecca Graham. Rebecca's departure affords an opportunity to rethink the Research Officer's post. In this respect, we are looking to serve one of two functions: a catalytic function or a support function. Serving a catalytic function would require a staff member with senior digital library experience who brings to the DLF a personal research agenda that complements one or more of the areas in which the DLF seeks to work. Serving a support function would require a more junior staff member who would be involved closely in developing and supporting DLF working groups and initiatives and the Office of the Director.
With all posts, we are considering full time employment as well as fellowships, leaves of absence, and part-time schemes. With the exception of the administrative assistant, staff would not necessarily be expected to work from CLIR or be located in Washington DC.
2.2. Communications infrastructure
Effective communications will be key to the DLF's further progress. Accordingly the Office is paying considerable attention to revising its web site, developing a network of electronic mailing lists, and launching a regular electronic Newsletter.
Web-site re-development is on-going and will hopefully become apparent by early summer.
Mailing lists. Existing but dormant DLF mailing lists have been re-purposed. A general mailing list - DLFANNOUNCE-L@CDINET.COM - has been made available as a vehicle for one-way communication between the DLF Office of the Director and staff at member institutions. The list will be used to circulate information of general interest to digital library practitioners (e.g. on new "publications", initiatives, etc).
In addition, a number of focused discussion lists have been established for those who are interested in receiving communication about and helping to inform DLF activities in its various "program areas". The following lists have been established:
Other focused discussion lists will be established in due course, notably to communicate about and help inform work on digital preservation and on digital collections.
Staff at DLF member institutions are encouraged to join these lists all of which use LISTSERV software and have web-accessible archives. To join a list, send the following message to LISTSERV@CDINET.COM
Help with listserv software is available from: http://www.lsoft.com/manuals/1.8d/user/user.html
The DLF Newsletter is being developed to take account of our interest in promoting a greater degree of information sharing. It will report on DLF activities and include brief reports supplied by DLF members on their local digital library activities, initiatives, challenges, etc. It is proposed that members submit reports twice a year. A template for members' reports and a reporting schedule has been made available.
2.3. Steering Committee
The next Steering Committee is scheduled for 16 June 2000. Given the impending changes for DLF, it is recommended that that meeting be postponed until September 2000 when it may meet to review the DLF's progress and consider a number of recommendations prepared by the Director in consultation with the Executive Committee, with regard to membership, external and additional funding, the DLF's formal external evaluation.