Re:Thinking

A blog featuring perspectives from a variety of contributors on topics relating to the emerging digital environment, research, and higher education.
Blog posts published after January 1, 2018, are available at https://www.clir.org/category/rethinking/

Posts

As summer begins and many of our schedules shift, it's a good time to think again about the place of professional development in our daily working lives. Readers of this blog may remember I first raised this subject in January, asking people to share their own favorite resources and strategies for learning new skills. What first sparked my interest in this topic was a conversation at THATCamp Digital Libraries, in which a group of librarians...

ER&L From a "Cross-Pollinator's" Perspective

The Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L) Conference, held March 17-20, 2013, in Austin, covered a wide range of topics pertinent to electronic resources librarianship, including information usage habits of faculty and students, e-book adoption and technology, open access issues and potential, digital repository adoption, search overlay software for library catalogs, and more. As a recipient of the DLF/CLIR + ER&L Cross-Pollinator Travel Award, I learned a great deal about trends in electronic resources librarianship. I...

When Less is More

Last month the Committee on Coherence at Scale for Higher Education held its first meeting, generously hosted by Vanderbilt University and its provost Richard McCarty and Dean of Libraries Connie Vinita Dowell. The meeting was a success, in that many excellent ideas were aired and next steps articulated. A more detailed timeline of committee activities and a sharper definition of scope and goals will be forthcoming, as will announcement of teams of researchers who will...

Extending Light Against the Darkness

This is not the blog post I had planned to write. When asked a few weeks ago to write a post for this week, I prepared a draft outline about the Digital Public Library of America launch and celebratory events. I was going to mention how CLIR was continuing its support of the DPLA. It would have been a post that wrote itself. But then, in a space of a breath, our collective American experience...

On Bridges and Boundaries

Last Friday, April 5, I was fortunate to introduce Emory University Anthropology Librarian and former CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow Lori Jahnke and Emory’s current Fellow Katherine Akers in a session at the spring meeting of the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI). With backgrounds in biological anthropology (Lori) and neuroscience (Katherine), the two have unique perspectives on the recent expansion of our Postdoctoral Fellowship Program to support fellowships in data curation. Their joint presentation, “Mapping Data Curation:...

The Brain as Computer/Computer as Brain (part 2)

We are using digital technology in unprecedented ways, whether in the almost seamless integration of computational tools and resources in scientific research, or in the ceding of early phases of interpretation in humanistic scholarship. The vast teamwork involved in discovering the Higgs boson is a prime example of the former: the machines of acceleration and bombardment at CERN were coupled with powerful computers that recorded and gave shape to the collisions, amassing a staggering amount...

Our Relationship with Internet Search Engines

Kenning Arlitsch, dean of the library at Montana State University, coauthored this blog with Patrick O'Brien, semantic web research director at Montana State University. Forget about your existing users for a moment; they’re not important to this conversation. If you think your websites and repositories already get a good amount of use then you may not grasp the potential for increased traffic. Your existing online audience is a tiny fraction of the users you could...

Not the Usual Suspects

This week I had the great opportunity to moderate a panel discussion, "Culture Hack: Libraries & Museums Open for Making," at the 2013 SXSWi conference. For the uninitiated, South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) is one of three conferences (Film and Music are the other two), held annually in Austin, Texas. Interactive is the largest of the three, with more than 40,000 participants. That is not a typo. Forty thousand people descend onto Austin for a crazy,...

The Brain as Computer/The Computer as Brain

Part 1 The metaphor of the brain as a kind of computer has been popular for decades. Recently, articles have appeared that nuance the metaphor, claiming that computers—or, more specifically, some incredibly powerful software applications that they run—might replace our brains, or at least some key functions of our thought and analytical processes. This blog briefly explores some of these analogies, leavened with a few personal observations. When did we discover the brain? For millennia...

Differentiation

What will set the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) apart? What problems is DPLA trying to solve, and what are the opportunities to seize? What content and service space will it richly and perhaps uniquely occupy to make it a compelling and needed complement to other vital resources in the evolving digital library sphere? What will it wisely choose not to be? What will DPLA inspire in its users and communities? And, ultimately, how...

A Sound Connection to Our Past

The Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Plan was officially launched yesterday. The publication marks the last step in a 12-year-long project to plan for a national program for audio preservation that Congress, in the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, mandated the Librarian of Congress to achieve. Members of 6 task forces representing nearly 40 leading organizations in the recorded sound community reached consensus on the recommendations set forth in the Plan. Six landmark...

"How Much Do We Need to Know?"

Recently CLIR, the Research and Academic Program of the Sterling and Francine Clark Institute of Art, and Washington University–St. Louis sponsored an exceptionally engaging colloquium at the Clark entitled, “Preservation and Its Intellectual Framework,” exploring the threaded intellectual activities of preservation and art historical interpretation. The theme of the colloquium was precipitated by the observation that too often, preservation and scholarly interpretation are separated topically and thematically; each has a lexicon and practitioners as well...

A Roadmap for Data Services

Last week I had the good fortune to attend the 8th annual International Data Curation Conference—the conference for anyone working in the field of data curation, whether practitioner, educator, or researcher. IDCC brings together those who create and manage data and information, those who use it, and those who research and teach about curation processes.  This year, the program was exceptionally strong, with keynotes by Ewan Birney of the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute and Herbert Van...

The DataRes Project: Research on Data Management in Policy and Practice

Unless you really haven’t been paying attention, most readers of this blog will be well aware that in May of 2010, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced its intention to require every grant applicant to include a plan for the retention and sharing of research data in their proposals, effective January 18, 2011. This data management plan requirement—often described by stakeholders as an unfunded mandate—initiated a furor across the academy, from offices of research to...

A Single Sky

January, appropriately named after the Roman god Janus: Janus was the chief god of beginnings and transitions, a deity with considerable influence over time—the continuity of the past to the future, the inauguration of new projects, new eras, and new years—and space, as the god of doors, bridges, and gateways. Usually depicted as a two-headed god that looks both backward and forward, embodying the correlation of what has been to what will come, Janus presides...

"Re-Skilling" Resolutions for the New Year

As we enter the season of self-improvement, I've been reminded of a stimulating discussion from this fall's THATCamp Digital Humanities and Libraries, held just before the DLF Forum. Moderated by Michelle Dalmau of Indiana University, this session was called "Re-Skilling Librarians for Digital Humanities." Notes from the discussion are here. Inspired by Mary Auckland's excellent report for Research Libraries UK from one year ago, "Re-Skilling for Research," the discussion focused on the possibility of creating...

A Genuine Logjam

Fourth in the Beveled Mirrors Series We are accustomed to using the term logjam as a metaphor for any number of clogged and dysfunctional circumstances. Vehicular traffic at rush hour comes to mind; a committee of politicians unable to agree on a solution to a complex challenge; numerous references to slow information delivery over the early Internet. The descriptor is popular in part because of the sharp visual imagery it conjures: it is easy to...

Finding the Fit: Matching Aspirations and Resources

Based on the discussions in the hallways and attendance in sessions at the most recent DLF Forum in Denver, it’s clear that many of us are thinking deeply about planning and developing support services for “digital scholarship.” This is not an easy phrase to define. However, one useful definition comes from Abby Smith Rumsey: “Digital scholarship is the use of digital evidence and method, digital authoring, digital publishing, digital curation and preservation, and digital use...

The Bright Side of Competition

The future of libraries is a popular and contentious topic of speculation. It is impossible to say what they will look like, what they will be called, or if there will even be books on the shelves. But one thing is certain: the individuals who lead them and staff them will know how to organize, advocate, and innovate for their institutions. Because that is what they are currently doing for themselves.  This past August, I...
Social media tools and platforms and the network effect have changed the way we work, connect, and collaborate. We have meetings with colleagues using Skype on our cell phones or iPads; we catch up on trends and new ideas via hashtags on Twitter; we catch up on news via blogs and other dynamic modes of publishing. With all that has changed in the workplace, why do our conferences, for the most part, remain static with...