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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress 2 THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS: FROM JEFFERSON TO THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY Libraries are repositories of the past and so cherish and embody their own histories. They are accretive organizations in principle, constantly expanding from the center as item after item is added to the concatenated shelves and bins in which the collections are stored. Library management tends to be conservative, so library leadership tends similarly to an accretive style. The present management structure of the Library of Congress cannot be understood without a sense of the history that has brought it about.1 To tell the story in this way, however, is not to suggest that there cannot be critical junctures in history that change sharply the way units are organized or management is done. A BRIEF HISTORY The Library of Congress was established in 1800, when the seat of government was moved from New York to the new capital city of Washington. The joint committee that oversees the Library of Congress (LC) was established in 1802 and was the first congressional joint committee. After Washington was burned by the British during the War of 1812, Thomas Jefferson reestablished the Library by selling his own personal 1 A wealth of information about the Library of Congress—past, present, and future—is accessible from the Library’s Web site at <http://www.loc.gov>.
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress collection of 6,487 volumes to Congress in 1815. At the time, Jefferson’s library was considered the finest in America. According to its mission, the Library is “to acquire, organize, preserve, secure, and sustain for the present and future of the Congress and the nation a comprehensive record of American history and creativity and a universal collection of human knowledge.” More recently, the mission of LC has been articulated as follows: “To make its resources available and useful to the Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations.”2 The initial holdings of the Library were a reference tool rather than any attempt at a comprehensive collection or a collection of American publications. The Library was chiefly a library of legal information that might prove useful to legislators. Twenty percent of the initial holdings were law books in the strict sense. When Jefferson sold his multifaceted, multilingual collection to Congress, he felt the need to defend its diversity by stating that there was “no subject to which a Member of Congress might not have occasion to refer.”3 This combination of missions—LC as a reference for legislators and LC as a comprehensive collection of human creativity—has continued to affect the course of the Library. The legislative and reference function was emphasized in the 1832 legislation creating the Law Library of Congress. This branch of the Library of Congress was housed in the Capitol until 1935 and was administered until that time by the U.S. Supreme Court. Progress toward the comprehensive collection that Mr. Jefferson had favored was interrupted in the middle of the nineteenth century. In 1851 a fire in the Capitol destroyed 35,000 volumes of the 55,000 in the collection at the time, although Congress responded quickly by appropriating the funds to replace the lost books. The fire was followed in 1859 by a repeal of the law providing for copyright deposits at the Library. U.S. copyright activities became centralized at the Patent Office, which meant that LC and the Smithsonian Institution no longer received copies of the books and pamphlets deposited for copyright under the 1846 law providing for the enrichment of library collections through copyright deposit. Efforts to build the collection resumed in the 1860s. For example, the Library acquired the 40,000 volumes from the Smithsonian’s library in 2 As stated in “The Mission and Strategic Priorities of the Library of Congress: 1997-2004,” available online at <http://lcweb.loc.gov/ndl/mission.html>. 3 Thomas Jefferson to Samuel H. Smith, September 21, 1814, Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress, as described in Jefferson’s Legacy: A Brief History of the Library of Congress, by John Y. Cole (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1993). Available online at <http://lcweb.loc.gov/loc/legacy/>.
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress 1866. And by 1870, Congress had passed laws establishing the U.S. Copyright Office as an arm of the Library, thereby centralizing all copyright activities. Even though photography and serial publications were becoming more common and popular in the 1870s and inexpensive prints had been readily available since the beginning of the nineteenth century, the copyright laws were intended primarily to manage and acquire books. What is now called the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress was authorized in 1886. The building, with reading and exhibition spaces for the general public, reflects two forces affecting the Library: (1) the obligation, contained in its charter, to “the nation” and (2) the influx of general materials that followed the creation of copyright deposit laws in 1870. In 1897, when the new building was occupied, the staff increased from 42 to 108, and separate divisions were formed for serials, maps, music, manuscripts, and graphic arts. In 1914, Congress created the Legislative Reference Service, renamed the Congressional Research Service in 1970, to accommodate the research needs of members of Congress. For its first decade, the Legislative Reference Service focused on maintaining indexes relating to laws and legislative acts, a charge arising from work started by the Law Library.4 Other congressional creations during the twentieth century emphasized extending the forms of material that fall within the purview of the Library. In 1931, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped was established to create materials for disabled audiences. In 1976, the American Folklife Center and the American Television and Radio Archives were created. In 1977, the Center for the Book followed, with the National Film Preservation Board established in 1988. The American Memory Project, established in 1990 and expanded into the National Digital Library Program (NDLP), with its goal of making 5 million digital items available through the Internet, in some ways extends these activities. The NDLP moves the Library of Congress deeper into content creation and management and addresses K-12 students as well as adult audiences—a new arena for the Library. The Library played a key role during the twentieth century in the area of cataloging. Dewey’s Decimal System was established in 1876,5 and the Library of Congress began creating index cards around the turn of the century. In 1902, legislation enabled the Library to sell cataloging cards to American libraries to help them to address the expense of doing routine 4 Donald R. DeGlopper, from the section on the Law Library for the “LC Encyclopedia,” draft dated July 31, 1998, p. 6. 5 Melvil Dewey established his classification while at Amherst College and expanded it at the New York State Library.
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress cataloging. This program led to a uniformity of cataloging across libraries subscribing to the service and some structures to support standard cataloging procedures. Other formal research aids were created and advanced in the Library at around that time. A comprehensive index of legislation from all countries in the world was proposed in 1902 and led to the creation of indexes to federal statutes (1903 to 1910) and various tools for indexing foreign statutes as well through the early years of the twentieth century. The Library led the development during the 1960s of the machine-readable cataloging (MARC) format for identifying and exchanging information about bibliographic materials, which became a national standard in 1971. As part of a consortium that included the American Library Association and British participants, it developed the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules (AACR), guidelines for cataloging. These efforts were complemented by the creation and management of LC subject headings and the LC cataloging system that replaced the Dewey decimal system in many libraries. Elsewhere, the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) led in the distribution of catalog materials, while integrated library systems began to be developed. The Library has made substantial efforts to extend the AACR cataloging rules and the MARC format into media besides books and participated in the establishment of an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) for books and an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) for serials.6 LC’s role in developing tools for managing collections has been as significant as the collections that it has gathered.7 UNITS OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS The Library of Congress comprises four major service units, directed from the Office of the Librarian, which is in turn supported by service units that offer enabling infrastructure to the major service units. The structure is explained by history. In particular, Library Services continues to be the oldest unit of the organization, responsible for the collections and public services that most people think of as the Library of Congress. 6 See Chapter 5 for an in-depth discussion of cataloging—MARC, AACR, OCLC, and related topics. 7 For additional reading on the history of the Library, see Jefferson’s Legacy: A Brief History of the Library of Congress, by John Y. Cole (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1993) and America’s Library: The Story of the Library of Congress 1800-2000, by James Conway (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2000), available online at <http://lcweb.loc.gov/loc/legacy/>.
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress The Law Library has a slightly different but parallel history, while the Copyright Office and the Congressional Research Service (CRS) arose at different dates in response to quite specific congressional mandates. The major service units have interdependencies and links to each other but still function as loosely coupled organizations, even when the staff for each inhabit different floors of the same building. Figure 2.1 shows the overall organizational structure of the Library of Congress. Figures 2.2 and 2.3 provide detail on the Library’s supporting infrastructure and on its Library Services unit, respectively. The remainder of this chapter outlines the organization of LC as the committee found it in 1999. In some cases, the description in this chapter includes recommendations made as part of the committee’s overall charge, but for the most part discussion of those recommendations is postponed to the substantive chapters that follow. See Table 2.1 for the budget of the Library of Congress. Office of the Librarian The Office of the Librarian is the administrative branch of the Library of Congress and had 728 employees as of September 30, 1999, including 201 employees in the Information Technology Services (ITS) Directorate.8 This office has overall management responsibility for the Library and includes staff functions such as public affairs and congressional relations. Most of the employees within the Office of the Librarian, however, work in centralized services such as Human Resources Services, Security, Financial Services, or ITS, which fall under the rubric “enabling infrastructure” (see Figure 2.2). The systems and strategies of these services have important effects on the entire institution.9 Library Services Library Services is the largest service unit of the Library of Congress, with 2,304 employees in September 1999. Its specific charge is to develop and manage “the Library’s universal collections, which document the history and further the creativity of the American people, and which record and contribute to the advancement of civilization and knowledge throughout the world.” The audiences served are the following: “Congress, libraries and librarians, scholars, educators, the general public, the 8 The source for the number of employees—in Library Services and in the other units of LC—is the Annual Report of the Librarian of Congress, 1999. 9 ITS and some other units of the Office of the Librarian are discussed in greater detail in Chapters 7 and 8. The Office of the Librarian is mentioned here for purposes of comparison with the other major offices of the Library.
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress FIGURE 2.1 Organizational structure of the Library of Congress.
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress FIGURE 2.2 Enabling infrastructure of the Library of Congress.
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress FIGURE 2.3 Library Services and its directorates.
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress TABLE 2.1 Net Costs by Program Area at the Library of Congress (dollars) Program Area Cost Revenue Net Cost Library Services 239,046,427 4,868,749 234,177,678 Law Library 14,562,531 0 14,562,531 Copyright Office 48,039,321 18,218,923 29,820,398 Congressional Research Service 96,017,808 0 96,017,808 National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicappeda 46,397,702 0 46,397,702 Reimbursable fundsb 53,661,537 47,897,166 5,764,371 Revolving fundsc 15,646,988 6,281,721 9,365,267 Miscellaneous 35 Net cost of operations 436,105,790 SOURCE: Adapted from the Financial Statements for Fiscal 1999, Library of Congress, March 2000, p. 2-2. aAlthough the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLSBPH) is a unit of Library Services, it receives a separate appropriation from Congress. bThe Library manages the Federal Library and Information Network (FEDLINK) and the Federal Research Division, which account for the major portion of the reimbursable revenues. In addition, LC provides accounting services for four legislative agencies under cross-servicing agreements. The net program costs for the Library’s reimbursable funds are nearly zero when intra-Library net revenues of $4.3 million are included and adjustments of $1.5 million are excluded. cUnder the authority of 2 U.S.C. 160, the Library operates 11 gift revolving fund activities to provide a variety of services. blind and physically handicapped, and internal clients.”10 The Library fulfills this mandate by providing access to its collection of 26 million volumes, nearly 1 million serials, and many items in other formats. It does this in more than 20 reading rooms in Washington, D.C., alone, as well as through interlibrary loans and Internet access. Not only does Library Services provide access to books, but it also supports the creation and distribution of information about books in direct ways—through the 10 “Information Technology Beyond the Year 2000,” presented by LC staff at the committee’s first plenary meeting on February 18, 1999.
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress distribution of catalog materials—and in indirect ways, through initiatives like the Center for the Book and its state affiliates.11 One of the most significant features of Library Services from the point of view of information technology is the organization of the Public Service Collections—those divisions organized around the physical form of collections (e.g., the Geography and Map, Prints and Photographs, and Manuscript Divisions), around content centers (e.g., the Humanities and Social Sciences Division and the Music Division), or around functions (e.g., the Loan and the Collections Management Divisions). Figure 2.3 shows the organization of Library Services. As early as 1902, Library Services began serving its second audience—libraries and librarians—by distributing catalog materials to alleviate the burden of every library having to catalog the same item in more or less the same way. For nearly two-thirds of the twentieth century, this was done through a system of cards and printed volumes providing actual catalog records or references such as LC subject headings. Today, it is largely done electronically, either through the medium of shared resources distributed directly or through services such as OCLC and the Research Libraries Information Network, the services offered to publishers that facilitate cataloging, and the internal Integrated Library System (ILS) of the Library of Congress. The history of these three functions is intertwined. In 1958, the Committee on Mechanized Information Retrieval began to lay the foundation for the ILS, which was eventually installed in October 1999.12 An outgrowth of that committee’s work was the development 11 The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, created by Public Law 95-129 in 1977, was established to stimulate public interest in books, reading, and libraries and to encourage the study of books and print culture. Within the Library of Congress, the center is a focal point for celebrating the legacy of books and the printed word. Outside the Library, the center works closely with other organizations to foster understanding of the vital role of books, reading, libraries, and literacy in society. A partnership between the government and the private sector, the center depends primarily on tax-deductible contributions from corporations and individuals to support its overall program of projects, publications, and events of interest to both the general public and scholars. See <http://lcweb.loc.gov/loc/cfbook/ctr-bro.html>. 12 The ILS represents a significant step toward resolving the differences among the various systems developed in the Library over the years. The ILS, an off-the-shelf system developed by Endeavor Information Systems, Inc., of Des Plaines, Illinois, finally integrates many of the major component systems of the Library into one application. It supports standard operations such as acquisitions, cataloging, inventory and serials control, circulation, and the online public access catalog. In general, integrated library systems simplify staff tasks, thereby enhancing efficiency, and centralize records, thereby improving collection control and customer service. See Chapter 8 for a detailed discussion of the ILS.
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress in the 1960s of the MARC format. Together with the AACR cataloging rules that specify which of the elements defined in MARC are to be used for cataloging particular formats, the basic structure of the electronic catalog record was set. MARC records have been readily and consistently distributed to libraries since the late 1960s through the Cataloging Distribution Service (CDS), either directly from the Library of Congress or indirectly through OCLC, the Research Libraries Group, and other large library database managers. In 1971, the Cataloging in Publication (CIP) program was established to allow publishers to create prepublication catalog records for books that might be expected to be widely distributed. CIP records form a part of the core catalog data distributed through CDS, and they accelerate the dissemination of cataloging data for new U.S. publications, offering a savings in the cost of cataloging and expediting the creation of catalog records. In 1996, the process was expanded to allow electronic transmission of the CIP information from the publisher through the Electronic Cataloging in Publication (ECIP) program. MARC records have become the norm in library cataloging. Their adoption for use in library systems has been somewhat slower. The Library’s first efforts to use electronic records for access during the 1970s led to the Subject-Content-Oriented Retriever for Processing Information Online (SCORPIO) system and the Multiple Use MARC System (MUMS), which provided search, retrieval, and display components. In 1975, the first computer terminal was installed in the main reading room for the use of patrons. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Library moved to more powerful computers and added communications, but SCORPIO and MUMS continued to be the core of its catalog until the installation of the ILS in October 1999. The ACCESS system was implemented in 1991, allowing users to get into SCORPIO and MUMS more easily via a graphical user interface (MS-Windows). The Library of Congress Information System (LOCIS) provided another way of accessing SCORPIO and MUMS in 1993 over the Internet.13 Circulation transactions were maintained manually through the 1960s. An attempt to develop an in-house circulation system in the 1970s was abandoned for an interim system borrowed from the National Library of Medicine. In 1988, a circulation control facility (CCF) and an acquisitions module, ACQUIRE, were implemented. Card-based systems for managing the shelf lists and serials check-in have been maintained until the present, along with bound ledgers for the shelf list covering the period before 1940. 13 Preparing for the 21st Century: Information Technology at the Library of Congress in the 1990s and Beyond, by Audrey Fischer, undated.
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress tem. This system is slated for replacement in 2001. Since 1993, the Copyright Office has been developing (in a project with the Corporation for National Research Initiatives, discussed in Chapter 3) the Copyright Electronic Recordation and Deposit System (CORDS) to accept deposits and registration of digital materials. None of the procedures that constitute the registration process is well integrated with the others. Tools were built to deal only with parts of problems, the relentless flow of material continues to grow, the steps in the copyright process are idiosyncratic, and the works that arrive in the Copyright Office offer the examiners multiple complexities and ambiguities. None of these parameters is likely to change very rapidly. Digital works will add layers of complexity; a single tangible, created entity in the age of digital content that changes with additions to databases or that is intentionally fugitive or that allows regular or continuous updating is not consistent with the current procedure for delineating a copyrightable object. Congressional Research Service The Congressional Research Service is responsible for providing Congress with “comprehensive and reliable research, analysis and information services that are timely, objective, non-partisan, and confidential” through its 720 employees (as of September 30, 1999). It is the arm of LC that most nearly and exclusively performs the original function of LC, the support of Congress and its legislative needs. It has had a history of more or less close association with the rest of the Library, but there are numerous points of disjunction. For example, the staff of CRS make much less use of LC collections than the committee had expected, and CRS employees have their own union, quite separate in identity and organization from the unions to which other Library staff belong.31 The Congressional Research Service is organized into six research areas: American law; domestic social policy; foreign affairs, defense, and trade; government and finance; information research; and resources, science, and industry. In addition, of the five staff offices in CRS, Information Resources Management handles legislative information, including the Legislative Information System (LIS) (see Box 2.1), and Research Operations manages technology application development, imaging, and infrastructure for CRS.32 31 CRS staff even have business cards with a design distinctly different from that of other LC staff business cards. 32 Special Announcement 99-4, available online at <http://lcweb.loc.gov/staff/ogc/sa/sa99-4.html>.
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress BOX 2.1 The Legislative Information System As Speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich directed the Library of Congress (LC) to develop a system for making legislative information available to the public through the Internet by January 1995. The Library did this using existing data and systems and creating a Web interface with a new search engine. Congress (through appropriations language) also requested that LC conduct a study in 1995 of the duplication of legislative systems across all legislative branch agencies. The study found considerable duplication, whereupon Congress asked LC to prepare a plan for a new system to serve as Congress’s primary legislative information system (LIS). The LIS was to be developed and maintained collaboratively by all the offices and legislative support agencies that serve the Congress. The Library and the Congressional Research Service were given responsibility for coordinating the retrieval component of this effort among all congressional offices (House, Senate, LC, Government Printing Office, Congressional Budget Office, General Accounting Office) and for making the information accessible. The result has been an ongoing reengineering of the collection, storage, and retrieval of legislative information across Capitol Hill, beginning with the clerks on the chamber floors and in the legislative counsels who draft the bills and extending through retrieval of the information through either the LIS (for members and staff of the Congress) or THOMAS (for the public). As a result of these efforts, there is now one coordinated, distributed system that provides legislative information to Congress and the public. Both the House and Senate retired their legacy retrieval systems and provide data directly to the LIS. This was one of the most remarkable successes LC has had in digital information management systems. Some of that success reflected the nature of the materials (legal texts are “flat” and structured at the same time) and some reflected the ability of the organization to react to significant outside pressure with a nimbleness and agility that are not seen in day-to-day life at LC. CRS produces primarily two kinds of products: Material distributed broadly throughout the Congress, including issue briefs that require regular updates and reports that were formerly static documents but increasingly are updated periodically. All issue briefs and a growing number of the reports are available to Congress via the CRS Web site. Confidential work, which is guided by the principle that clients own the answers as well as the questions. Such work necessitates tracking multiple “original” works on similar or identical topics.33 33 Since members of Congress are apt to use the results of this type of research in public statements, one can imagine that it is important that the results seem original. Simply distributing the same report with the same language and examples might create some embarrassing situations.
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress In FY99, CRS responded to almost 546,000 congressional requests, produced roughly 1,000 new CRS reports and issue briefs, and created over 1,700 custom confidential memoranda. CRS benefits from a clear sense of mission and of customer identity. Although members of Congress and congressional staff can and do ask about an amazing variety of subjects, the CRS staff know from whom the questions will come, and the protocol for providing answers is comparatively clear. In some ways, CRS resembles a remarkably large staff of reference librarians, answering sophisticated inquiries in immense detail and with great professionalism; in others, it resembles a university faculty, performing original research on issues of public policy. Members of Congress and their staffs are generally pleased with the service received. Because CRS requires quick access to information, it manages its own digesting services, it considers electronic forms as the best edition for its business, and it has an interest in such things as geographical information systems. In some ways, its agenda pushes other parts of the Library. The Geography and Map Division will benefit from its partnership with CRS, which wants the kind of GIS that Geography and Map has been wanting. In other ways, however, its special needs set it apart. Both CRS and the Law Library have research arms that prepare reports for their clients, but CRS requires a degree of confidentiality that makes it inappropriate even to share tracking systems for research. CRS might well be a client for newly acquired digital materials in the Copyright Office, except that the pace of the Copyright Office and the rate at which its materials find their way into the Library’s collection are generally too slow for CRS. Accordingly, CRS has been an early adopter of technology but has often done so independently of the rest of LC. CRS has its own cataloging and information retrieval system—Star ILS—that it intends to integrate into the new Voyager ILS. It has the Public Policy Literature File, an online abstracting system available to Congress and CRS staff. The Inquiry Status Information System (ISIS), introduced in 1978 and upgraded in 1996, manages requests received from Congress and tracks their status as the work is performed. The congressional mandate to provide access to large bodies of text material—bills, the Congressional Record, and related materials—along with the requirement to reduce duplication of effort among congressional units led to the implementation of the LIS and THOMAS systems, which use a natural language query engine that gives online access to these legislative materials in a convenient and timely way. LIS and THOMAS have proven to be two of the most effective of LC’s forays into the distribution of online materials. They were implemented very shortly after the mandate and have continued to function—with occasional enhancements and regular expansion—very effectively. CRS maintains an active Web site and
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress has an interest in multimedia distribution, maintaining secure networks, increasing bandwidth, and serving its audience better. National Digital Library Program Between 1990 and 1994, the Library experimented with a pilot project called the American Memory Project to make digital surrogates of key documents held by the Library. Out of that project, the National Digital Library Program was born. The NDLP had more than 100 employees as of April 1999 and an annual budget of $12 million. Its goal is to digitize 5 million items within 5 years.34 The NDLP has made astute use of the tremendous popular appeal of the documents in its collection to garner private support. It aims to provide materials for educational purposes for children from kindergarten through high school—audiences that have hitherto been largely outside the focus of the Library (see Box 2.2). To meet this challenge, the NDLP has depended on a mix of LC staff and contractors. As a project-based program, the NDLP is not required to provide the long-term service functions that LC must normally provide. Apart from working to achieve its immediate goals, the NDLP has worked to bring in outside sources of support and content. Ameritech has supported creating collections that are physically located at other institutions but intellectually integrated with NDLP resources at LC. The Mellon Foundation is seeking to make available digital content that does not reside at LC. Digital materials created by projects such as the Making of America (Cornell University and the University of Michigan) are under consideration for inclusion. The NDLP has a general vision but no formal, central plan for selecting materials or creating links between various materials. For some collecting areas, having digital surrogates available is a benefit—in the Prints and Photographs or Geography and Map Divisions, for instance. In others, the capability would be apt to provide access to materials otherwise difficult to see on account of access restrictions or concerns for preservation—the materials from the Law Library, for instance. For still other areas, such as the Manuscript Division, having digital surrogates provides exposure but in and of itself does not yet benefit users. Thompson Technology is providing repository software for the NDLP with an Oracle database system, a search engine, and tools for managing metadata. The Library’s Information Technology Services Directorate has been involved in an advisory capacity in this development but has not 34 An “item” in the NDLP collection is not equivalent to an item in LC’s collections. Instead, it is a digital image, and one Web page may contain one or more digital images.
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress BOX 2.2 Opportunities to Expand the Library’s Audiences The advent of digital information and networks offers substantial opportunities for making the Library of Congress (LC) more visible and valuable to a wider audience. There is great virtue in using technology to extend the accessibility of the Library’s rich resources beyond Capitol Hill. Clearly, new audiences such as the K-12 community also offer new opportunities for partnerships and funding. At the time this report was being prepared, a $25 million advertising campaign contributed by the Ad Council of America was under way to expand the audience. At the same time, however, reaching out to new audiences poses challenges. For example, reaching a significant portion of the K-12 community directly (i.e., developing resources that are to be used by students and teachers directly) is difficult, especially for an organization that does not traditionally possess such expertise. Partnerships with intermediaries who have experience working with this community may be a more effective approach; in the case of the National Digital Library Program, such intermediaries include public and school libraries and publishers that serve this community. Such a strategy would allow LC to leverage its investments in digitization by having an impact on a much broader segment of society than if it had reached out to students and teachers directly. An additional benefit is that the packaging and interpretation of digital resources to be used for teaching would be developed primarily by intermediaries experienced in making such judgments, thereby avoiding criticism for having the federal government interpret history for schoolchildren or use public resources to compete with the private sector (i.e., educational publishers). In the spring of 2000, the America’s Library Web site (<http://www.americaslibrary.gov>) began addressing a school-age audience even more explicitly. played a leadership role here and has certainly not played the role of application developer. Guidelines for developing particular media have been created as each media type is tackled. The procedure has been to get the program working and to be successful, but as the program develops, more planning will have to be done. The NDLP has been especially valuable to the Library in the areas of creating (converting from analog to digital) and managing digital materials. Because none of the collecting arms of the LC have much in the way of structures for gathering digital materials, the NDLP has set itself the daunting task of managing the 5 million items once they are digitized. This is being done in an open fashion so that the collecting arms can make use of links to that imagery. So far, however, the Geography and Map Division seems to be the primary division taking advantage of this opportunity; the committee hopes that the ILS and other systems (e.g., the Prints and Photographs cataloging system) will link to this imagery at some point. While the bulk of the materials being accumulated under the umbrella of the NDLP are still
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress images, the NDLP has tackled issues having to do with formats for delivering materials, longevity of approaches, and the like. Though not widely published and certainly not widely emulated within LC, the basic methods for creating each type of surrogate—still images, sound recordings, audio recordings, and maps—have been carried out in a thoughtful and developmental way. These methods should be examined for their applicability to other LC activities and publicized more assertively in the larger community. The NDLP and the Library need to do much more work in developing metadata beyond MARC formats. This would allow the metadata to be readily communicated as formats and managed over time. Much of the captioning for imagery seems to be original captioning, written for particular audiences. These captions live within the structure of the NDL but have no direct bearing on the production data stored as a part of the catalog records. Similarly, attendant data such as information on ways of managing subjects, chronology, place names, and so on need to be pursued in a clearly replicable way. The point may seem to be a fine one, but in some respects the management and delivery of narrative content constitute the logical next step after the development of the MARC format for management and delivery of formatted content. The Library has an opportunity to play a leadership role in examining the complex relationship between narrative materials that are acceptable for public access and the formal content of the catalog. The committee believes very strongly that LC should participate in the dialogs that are springing up in this area of information management. LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS IN 2010 The Library of Congress resembles many other established institutions in confronting the possibilities and challenges presented by information technology. The institution has thought carefully about its mission over the years and has a reasonable sense of where it wants to go, even though it is a somewhat loosely coupled organization. But implementing that mission at a time of rapid change in the fundamental technologies on which the institution relies requires that the LC’s sense of mission be even clearer and that the choices be understood well. This section summarizes what the committee sees as the particular challenges it believes need to be addressed. It should go without saying that LC exists to support the information needs of the Congress. For the fulfillment of this fundamental mission, both the organization and technology are largely at hand, although change is constant. The Congressional Research Service is like a large and highly
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress specialized research department in a library that knows its customers very well indeed. Such a tight link between library and customer is unusual (tighter even than in universities and colleges), enviable, and a good source of guidance and direction for the CRS. The committee does not mean to minimize the challenges for CRS, but compared with those facing other departments of the Library, they are relatively straightforward. It is Library Services—the unit of LC that most people think of as “the library”—that faces the most pointed questions. If it seeks to continue to accumulate a “comprehensive record of American history and creativity and a universal collection of human knowledge”35—in other words, a comprehensive collection of the nation’s creative output and at the same time a broadly inclusive collection of research materials brought from around the world—it must manage to deal with the old and the new together. The first implicit question—never clearly resolved—is how far LC really is a “national library” like those in other countries; the second consequent question, already being faced here and abroad, is what becomes of a national library in the digital age. The following parameters are the most relevant: Old technologies continue to flourish. No decline in paper publication has yet been discerned. Existing systems for acquiring and managing that body of material must be maintained at current volumes or higher for the foreseeable future. LC is typical of great libraries in that it continues to need substantial space for physical collections even as funding agencies labor under the vague but mistaken assumption that digital publication will obviate such need. Materials collected using old technologies now need to be made more accessible through the resourceful use of IT. The new ILS is an important step in this direction, but nowhere near the whole of LC’s collection is accessible that way. Electronic indexing and abstracting services, for example, are key tools for using print journals in a wide variety of fields. Business process redesign around the new ILS is an important step, but fresh consideration of other tools and how they may be made accessible (and to whom) is also needed. Older materials cry out to be reviewed for digitization by projects similar to the National Digital Library. First, digitization can make materials of great interest accessible to far wider audiences than ever before. Second, for some older materials, digitization is the preservation strategy of choice (and for some older preservation media—for example, micro- 35 From the LC mission statement.
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress film—digitization is a next step in achieving real usefulness of materials).36 The NDLP is completing one milestone phase this year and looking to move ahead: the decisions made now will have important long-range impacts. New materials published and made commercially available in digital media (with or without paper counterparts) need to be collected, made accessible, and preserved. This endeavor requires new forms of purchase and lease arrangements with publishers and new forms of access for readers and poses new questions about best edition and preservation. LC has just begun to address these questions. A much larger body of material than ever before and even much larger than has been collected by LC is available on the World Wide Web and sometimes in digital libraries without having been “published” in the traditional sense. To what extent does this material fall under the collecting aegis of LC? There are, as well, the further questions of copyright registration, deposit, and selection for a continuing collection. It is here that issues of ownership, access, and responsibility for preservation arise. Here, LC has made less progress than have some other large institutions and—more to the point—it has failed to play the leadership role that it has the power to play in the library community as a whole. Through digital initiatives, major research libraries have demonstrated their awareness of these concerns and moved to act on them. LC has held back, and for the host of libraries without the resources or skills to address these complex issues, that lack of leadership is and will continue to be a problem. To absorb the impact of the new while continuing to distinguish itself by discharging its traditional responsibilities, the Library will require keen management and new resources. But management will still be pressed to deliver the services demanded of LC without inordinate budgetary requests for new money. The committee sees several areas in which the impact of the new and the survival of old responsibilities will challenge LC most. First, LC will need to think and rethink the audiences it chooses to address. Beyond Congress, there has traditionally been an overlapping set of publics defined first by access to the buildings of LC on Capitol Hill in Washington. Research scholars have had the strongest incentive to make their way to LC, but a wider public has been welcomed on remark- 36 The committee believes that the subject of digital preservation is sufficiently important to warrant its own chapter (Chapter 4).
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress ably generous terms.37 But when access to the buildings is no longer a condition for the use of at least some of the collections, whom then should LC address? The issues of audience are most clearly drawn at present for the National Digital Library Program, but these issues will eventually be raised by all areas of library service mediated beyond the buildings of LC by information technology. Second, the Library of Congress has a special function that most national libraries elsewhere do not have: responsibility for managing copyright registration as well as deposit.38 At present, copyright registration is a function that overlaps the deposit of printed materials, but within LC the systems used to support the Copyright Office and Library Services are very different. The physical materials are registered for copyright in one department of the Library and then are moved to a room where selectors extract the volumes likely to be added to the Library’s collections. At that point, a separate process of documentation and cataloging begins. Can the copyright registration and deposit processes be more closely integrated with acquisition, selection, cataloging, and preservation of materials for the Library’s collection? Third, within LC, the Law Library risks being neglected because of its size and specialized function. Its distinctive feature is its support of research into the laws and judicial systems of other countries, although it does provide a wider range of traditional law library services. The Global Legal Information Network program is making progress in providing electronic access to international legal materials, but its impact has been limited by funding and personnel constraints. Are there ways to enhance that project’s impact and link it more closely to other LC functions? At the same time, before a GLIN service is developed that would compete with the private sector, careful consideration should be given to whether it is appropriate for the federal government to provide the proposed service. So far, the committee has outlined problems that press on the Library from the point of view of service to its traditional users—readers and researchers from a variety of walks of life. But LC has another vitally important set of customers, ones it has served with distinction for many 37 The mission statement lists the audience as Congress, the government, and the wider public, without further differentiation except to observe that digital media allow LC to reach a wider audience than before. Historically, the Library did not consider children to be a part of its clientele, and as of this writing, most on-site LC services may be accessed only by those 18 years of age and older (guided tours are an exception). 38 In a number of other countries, this responsibility is carried out by organizations that are distinct from the national library.
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress years: libraries. While LC’s function as a source of interlibrary loan materials has actually been relatively modest, it has led in setting standards and leading collaborative enterprises. LC’s history of consolidating and standardizing the cataloging of library materials has been distinguished, and it has played an important part in making librarianship here and abroad more economical and more effective. Now the challenge is to find appropriate ways to participate in the planning and execution of new standards and the creation of new infrastructure. The committee heard repeatedly from librarians around the world that LC must take the lead role in this area, but defining that role takes some thought and decision making in the new environment libraries face. Organizing the services and infrastructure of LC to respond flexibly and efficiently to the new challenges is the last area this report addresses. The committee naturally offers some observations about specific technical directions, but at the same time it has studied closely the organizations and interactions that bring technology to the librarians and users. Technical questions are not solved well unless there are planning and implementation structures in place to optimize outcomes. At present there are both a central ITS Directorate and IT-specialist personnel in units throughout the Library. Do those units interact as well as they could and should? Are technology decisions made according to a broad strategic view of the future? Are technology decisions made in a way that is open and transparent to the library’s management as a whole? Do those decisions successfully anticipate need or only respond to it? The committee was particularly asked by LC’s senior managers to revisit a question raised by an earlier study: Does LC need to appoint explicitly a chief information officer to oversee management of its technology resources?39 It is important to emphasize at this point what should be obvious from the way in which the problem has been stated: namely, the committee judges the limitations and challenges LC faces to be structural and strategic, and they need to be thought of in that way. The committee did not approach this study by looking for things that are broken and trying to find ways to fix them, much less by seeking to assign blame for shortcomings. It is most concerned about those limitations that appear to be most intractable: human resources policies and practices that limit inno- 39 In December 1995, the Government Accounting Office, at the request of the Senate Appropriations Committee, contracted with the consulting firm Booz-Allen & Hamilton to perform a management review of LC’s operations and to deliver a report within 6 months. This report was delivered in May 1996. Along with relevant congressional testimony and an accompanying Price Waterhouse financial statement, it is available online at <http://www.gao.gov/special.pubs/loc.htm>.
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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress vation and flexibility, government pay scales that restrict access to the best talent, and statutory requirements (particularly in the area of copyright) that may compel the Library to engage in activities that would be better off restructured. But even those areas can be addressed if there is support at the highest levels in the Library and in the Congress. Mainly, however, the committee has chosen to concentrate on the problems and opportunities that are presented by the times we live in. This is an exciting moment for those who care about the preservation and transmission and dissemination of cultural heritage and cultural innovation. The excitement translates into real challenges for traditional institutions like LC and should be preserved and harnessed so as to launch a new century of innovation and service.
Representative terms from entire chapter: