December 2002 Council on the Libraries minutes
Council on Libraries
December 12, 2002
Treasure Room, 12:00-1:30 pm
Present: Jeremy Rutter (JR) (Chair), Richard Callahan (RC), Kathryn Cottingham (KC), Robert Ditchfield (RD), William Hickey (WH), Joy Kenseth (JK), Larry Levine (LL), Richard Lucier (RL), Cyndy Pawlek (CP), Jane Quigley (JQ) (staff)
Guests: John James, Associate Librarian of the College
Susan Fliss, Director, Research and Informatics Learning
The meeting was convened at 12:00.
1. Minutes from the last meeting (Nov. 19) were adopted.
2. Before turning to the scheduled agenda, Chair Jerry Rutter and Richard Lucier addressed the communication dated 12/12/02 that had been sent to CoL members by Alston Ramsay '04, inquiring whether the proposed closing of Sanborn House as a unit of the Library would not violate the terms of the Sanborn trust. RL noted that questions having to do with the administration of the Sanborn trust arise with some regularity. He explained that the Library has in fact no responsibility or decision-making power over the trust, and has no role in making recommendations; that it is handled by the Vice President and Treasurer's Office. The Library receives money to purchase books from the Sanborn endowment, but the Vice President and Treasurer determines the amount, as it is a trust left to the campus, not to the Library.
RL noted that whenever this question arises, he brings it to the attention of the administration, and that the board of trustees and legal counsel have determined that the endowment is being handled appropriately. Answering a point raised by Richard Callahan, RL noted that staff salaries at Sanborn are not paid out of endowment funds, but rather from the regular library budget. Sanborn endowment funds are spent only to support the general collection, and in fact about one-third of the Library's endowments have some such restriction. The Sanborn Trust currently provides about $800,000 annually to the library. RL noted that he had sent a copy of Ramsay's letter to the Vice President and Treasurer, and to English Department Chair Peter Travis, and that he would also send a copy to Dartmouth General Counsel Robert Donin. JR and RL agreed to send a response to Alston Ramsay referring him to the appropriate contacts about the Sanborn Trust. Finally, RL noted that Library endowments don't necessarily mean more money for the Library, as financial support from the College often goes down when endowments go up.
3. RL then gave an overview of the prototype Digital Library, now available at http://olympia.dartmouth.edu/index.html and linked from the Library's main web page. Creating a Digital Library was one of the Library's strategic objectives endorsed a year ago by the CoL. RL observed that there are few models to follow, and in fact little agreement about exactly what a Digital Library should be. Creating the Digital Library is an organic process, and it will continue to evolve over time, as we see what people need, and they see what is possible. The working definition for Dartmouth's Digital Library has been the following: an aggregation of high-quality digital content, together with personal tools and services for both consumers and producers of scholarly information, distributed over the network at the point of need. There must be persistence of content, and the Digital Library must be based on a stable and advanced digital architecture.
The prototype was launched in time for the dedication of Baker-Berry Library in early November, both to underscore to potential donors that the need for financial support was ongoing and to create a milestone for staff. JR asked what other milestones were ahead, and specifically how the CoL might be involved; RL emphasized that the Digital Library was not a finished product, and that the Library is looking for feedback both from the CoL and from the wider community. RL expects that there will be new releases of the Digital Library on a regular basis, for example each September in time for the academic year, with a "pre-release" in the summer to allow faculty to become familiar with new features. A smaller update could be released in January. RL noted that this update schedule seemed advisable because two major releases per year would probably be too much, especially with the Dartmouth four-quarter system. Education issues will be important because it will be vital to help the community adapt to new releases.
John James noted that the Library has no control over changes in digital content provided by publishers and vendors. Further, changes that depend on the Library's institutional collaborations and partnerships, like BorrowDirect or the possible collaboration with several libraries on subject guides, depend greatly on the determination of the entire group of libraries participating in the change. Kathryn Cottingham observed that we should strive for ongoing consistency with respect to the interface.
Cyndy Pawlek and John James gave a short demonstration of the Digital Library's features. CP explained that the Digital Library was meant to provide new pathways and easy access to information and to services, and a new organization of digital content. The simple entry screen will be the "front door" to the library (hence the architectural motifs on the page). Susan Fliss noted that workshops for faculty introducing the Digital Library will be held next week.
CP showed the Search/Browse eResources section of the Digital Library, and pointed out that this section had been one of the most interesting and challenging parts of the Digital Library to develop. It will eventually take the place of the present Digital Collections. The Digital Library is intended to provide tools to help people find their way through digital information resources, to provide better presentation and organization of content and to allow for better discovery of information.
The eResources section is divided into three main parts: a search box and two browse areas, where the user can browse by type of resource (electronic journals or subject guides, for example), or by subject (e.g., Earth Sciences or Linguistics). In doing a search in the eResources section, a link also indicates resources available through the catalog, so that users are reminded that the electronic resources available through the Digital Library are not all that is available on a particular subject.
RC asked what digital content was available for alumni, and CP explained that the resources in the Digital Library are generally restricted to current students, faculty, and staff, and to people who are physically present at a library workstation. These license restrictions, which are set by publishers, are a major reason that Dartmouth created the Digital Library for Alumni.
Robert Ditchfield asked how the digital environment affected the experience of indirect browsing, where you might unexpectedly come across something of interest while looking for something else. JR noted that even undirected browsing is not as random as it might seem, since library stacks follow a rational order.
JR asked how one might locate a collection of images through the Digital Library Search/Browse screen. CP responded that there is as yet no significant collection of digital visual content, although it would be possible to create a "limit" feature for video/DVDs or for materials in other digital visual formats. Joy Kenseth asked what digital images were available from the Hood Museum's collections; RL noted that the museum's collections were not included at this point, and that Dartmouth is somewhat behind other institutions in this regard. RL and Hood Museum Director Derrick Cartwright are discussing a grant proposal to the IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services) in this area. He noted that the issue is problematic as images are not cataloged in the same way as textual materials, and that integrating library and museum materials would involve a major new initiative.
CP said that this is certainly one area where the Digital Library might grow in the future, and mentioned the St. Gaudens collections of manuscripts in Rauner and related Hood museum resources as an example of materials that could be gathered together in one digital space. Other possibilities are the complementary Robert Frost collections at Dartmouth and at the University of Virginia, which might form the basis of a collaborative digital project in the future.
JR asked about Dartmouth scholarship-faculty publications, articles, student honors theses and the like. Has a possible role for the Digital Library as a repository of faculty and student scholarly work been discussed? RL noted that opinions vary about this concept, and that he wondered whether Dartmouth faculty would want to deposit their work in such an archive. MIT is pursuing this with its D-Space initiative. However, this direction has met with some resistance among faculty at several institutions who are reluctant to have their work associated with a particular institution. The physics preprint archive was mentioned as an example of a digital initiative that goes beyond institutional identity, and one where researchers have brought about significant change in publishing practices with regard to copyright.
RL pointed out the links from the Digital Library to the publications Linguistic Discovery and showed the template for the publication shortly to be launched, Latino Intersections. These are examples of innovative ways in which the Library can collaborate with faculty in the production and publication of their scholarly work. Linguistic Discovery, which was launched last year, has given new visibility to the Linguistics Program, and the same is expected of Latino Intersections with respect to the LALACS Program. Archiving of content for digital serials like Linguistic Discovery is an issue that the Library is addressing by means of the LOCKSS initiative ("Lots Of Copies Keep Stuff Safe"), where inexpensive software and partnerships with peer institutions allow for the archiving of Dartmouth's publications.
CP outlined the timetable for the Library's rollout of the Digital Library; continued introduction and development will take place between January and March of 2003. At the beginning of spring term in March, the Digital Library will replace the Library's current website as the preferred home page for the Dartmouth College Library; the two will exist in parallel until the end of summer term, when the old pages will be removed. RL emphasized that the Digital Library is intended for the whole campus, and will not have separate presences for the professional schools as opposed to the College.
SF noted that faculty have been alerted by email to the workshops being held next week, which include an introduction to the Digital Library. Librarian liaisons will also be contacting faculty about the workshops, and will be working with them individually and in their departments to introduce and invite feedback about the Digital Library.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:30.