Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship Winter 1998

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Building the Collections of the California Digital Library

Susan S. Starr
Library Planning and Action Initiative Coordinator
California Digital Library
University of California
Office of the President

In October of 1997, the University of California announced the creation of the California Digital Library, an initiative that will harness the power of digital technologies to make the University's unique library and information resources more widely available to all Californians, as well as provide leadership and support to other segments in order to enhance access to digital information resources throughout the state. In addition to providing valuable new services to the people of California, the California Digital Library will enhance library service to UC faculty and students while supporting the library system during its transition to the digital future. The University envisions a library system that can blend print and digital capabilities to support the University's academic programs, serve California's citizens, support business and industry, and forge new collaborative links with other segments of California education.

The elements of the California Digital Library initiative include:

The CDL represents the work of several years of planning both by the University's libraries and University administrators. In many ways it is a unique venture, offering the University of California an unprecedented opportunity to provide leadership to libraries in their transition to the digital future. The paper below will describe the first two of the four elements listed above, 1) the creation of the CDL and 2) planning to date for the charter collection, the Science, Technology and Industry Collection (STIC).

The California Digital Library

The rich library collections of the libraries of the nine campuses of the University of California (Davis, Berkeley, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Riverside, Irvine, and San Diego) collectively hold more than 27 million volumes and serve over 165,000 students and 14,000 faculty. As an integral strategic component of this library system and a collaborative effort of all nine campuses, the digital library has been designed to comprise a number of key elements that support and sustain the University's teaching and research mission:

Like its counterparts on the nine campuses, the CDL will provide access to collections and services that enhance and disseminate information to support teaching and research. More specifically, the CDL will develop programs that provide 1) information access and delivery via electronic communications; 2) information preservation, storage and retrieval; 3) information management consultation and training; 4) online publishing of scholarly and scientific knowledge and 5) support for the knowledge network of the University. The CDL will license and acquire shared electronic content, manage that content to assure its efficient and effective delivery, and support digitization of paper-based materials. It will establish policies and procedures for archiving, develop secure, reliable, electronic delivery mechanisms, and foster standards that promote interoperability. The CDL will provide user support and train information providers at the campus level. It will also encourage digital publishing and the migration of selected campus-based content into the Digital Library while developing technologies which facilitate distribution of print-based content across University and developing partnerships with other entities and encouraging shared access to collections among California institutions of higher education.

The CDL has been established at the University of California, Office of the President, in Oakland, California where it is managed and directed by a University Librarian; a small staff with specialized skills in library and information management, business development and finance, user training, networked information delivery, and information technology is being recruited to develop programs and collections. The University of California Library and Scholarly Information Committee, composed of academic administrators, University Librarians, information technologists and faculty of the nine campuses is just being formed to serve as an advisory body for the CDL; this Committee reports to the Provost of the University and will work closely with the University Librarian, CDL. Appointment of additional advisory groups of campus library managers and librarians to assist the CDL in developing operational strategies is underway, while librarians on each campus will participate in the design of the CDL, actively soliciting input from faculty and students on CDL collections and services.

The initial focus of the CDL is on the information needs of UC students and faculty, for whom it will provide access to digital information, relieve pressures on print collections, and develop mechanisms to foster sharing of collections among the nine UC campuses. Ultimately the CDL will build the partnerships that will allow the University to assume a leadership role in the delivery of digital information to all Californians. As other entities, such as public and private California universities and private corporations become partners, electronic collections will be enriched and sharing mechanisms strengthened.

The Knowledge Network

As noted above, the creation of the CDL is the result of several years of planning by a wide-range of individuals at the University of California (UC). In considering strategies that would assist our libraries in the transition to a digital future, planners concluded that UC libraries should continue to be guided by the concept of "One University, One Library," a concept first enunciated in the University of California's 1977 Library Plan. This concept has served our libraries well; an emphasis on shared resources, shared programs, shared services, and shared planning, has allowed UC Libraries to achieve far more than they could have done individually. UC's libraries have been able to draw on each other for resources while at the same time permitting the growth of distinctive collections supporting campus needs. Two regional library storage facilities and the MELVYL Union Catalog are tangible results of the "one library" concept.

To integrate this concept into a future library system that can blend print and digital capabilities to support the University's academic programs, planners also agreed that we should add to our vision of "one university, one library" the concept of a common knowledge network. The shared collections in the libraries of the 1980s consisted of printed materials that were mailed across the state. The increasingly digital environment of the soon-to-arrive 21st century forces us to redefine the notion of that common collection so that it comprises a network of all the key academic information resources of the University. The University's knowledge network includes robust campus collections supporting the core academic programs of each campus, specialized collections distributed among the campuses to support the advanced research and teaching needs of the University, and a single statewide digital collection to serve the University's common information needs. Also included are associated systems and services that can make the University's shared knowledge assets, in any format, readily accessible and available to every member of the UC community. The CDL is the vehicle to build the single statewide digital collection and its associated systems and services, as well as to enhance sharing of specialized printed materials found on each campus. CDL Collection Framework

To build this single statewide digital collection, a collection framework for the CDL has been developed by a group of senior professional staff from UC campus libraries. This framework begins with the assumption that because the CDL is a "co-library" of the University, whose primary collection responsibility is to develop electronic content and make it available to all faculty and students, the same three considerations used to develop library collections in the nine campus libraries guide collection development for the CDL:

In the case of the CDL, the resources available will be electronic resources, which support common needs of programs and users on the nine campuses of the University.

The following principles then provide additional guidance for collection development in the CDL:

  1. Effective collection development criteria should be paramount and should be applied consistently across formats including digital resources.

  2. Principal considerations include:

  3. Balance must be maintained among:

  4. Priority should be given to digital format acquisition of resources, which benefit the most faculty and students, allowing economies of scale.

  5. Priority should be given to the acquisition of digital resources whose costs are offset by added value when compared to print in such ways as:

  6. UC should retain authority for selecting and deselecting materials (content and format) and sound selection decisions should not be compromised by publisher-defined bundles of print and digital products.

  7. A digital collection must contain a sufficient critical mass to evaluate its utility and to justify its selection.

  8. Initial collections should focus on disciplines in which a substantial quantity of electronic content is available and on user groups that are willing and able to accept such content.

  9. Both collections that support undergraduate instruction and those that support faculty research should be included.

  10. Collection activities should encourage societies with high impact titles to distribute their materials electronically.

  11. Electronic materials should increase access to the installed base of UC Library collections and build on the investments already made by the University in digital resources.

The Science, Technology and Industry Collection

The collections of the California Digital Library will be developed according to a {collection matrix} designed to accompany the Collection Framework. Specific disciplines constitute the columns in the matrix; those that are ready to accept electronic content will be targeted for the first few collections of the CDL. New collections selected for development will be distributed more or less evenly among the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Area Studies, Science & Technology and Instructional Support so as to maintain a balance between broad subject categories. The rows on the chart represent material types: access tools, reference tools, textual published content, non-textual content, etc. In each discipline an attempt will be made to populate as many of the cells in the matrix as possible, so as to provide the needed breadth and critical mass of electronic material.

The Science, Technology and Industry Collection (STIC) is being developed as the first electronic collection of the CDL. Science, technology and medicine accounts for over 80% of the electronic literature now available. At the same time, the core of the current library-funding crisis is directly related to continuous high inflation in scientific, technical and medical publishing; close to 50% of UC Libraries' materials budgets go to scientific journals and since 1993 alone the cost of these journals has risen over 40%. Thus choosing a collection focused on science and technology permits the University to:

A small task force of senior science librarians from 5 of the UC campuses began planning the STIC collection in the fall of 1996. This task force recommended the following strategy for collection development:

The task force also identified those publishers that, in accordance with this strategy, should be targeted for the initial STIC collection.

Current Developments

In September of 1997, the recommendations of the STIC task force were accepted by the nine UC University Librarians. Work is now proceeding to establish the initial collection in accordance with those recommendations. Negotiations with both commercial publishers and scholarly societies have begun and contracts are expected shortly. With the possible exception of UC-produced content, most CDL collections will not be loaded locally. Rather, the CDL will license access to content that resides on publisher's web sites. Initially these licenses will cover only UC faculty and students, but plans call for licenses eventually to be extended to include other partners. To provide users of the CDL with a unified interface to content residing on numerous remote web sites, hyperlinks are being created from citations in locally loaded databases currently mounted on the UC MELVYL System to the corresponding full text loaded on publisher's web sites. In this way, faculty and students can go directly from the results of searches in INSPEC, MEDLINE, Current Contents, etc. to the information they desire.

At the same time, science librarians on each of the nine UC campuses have developed outreach efforts to inform their faculty about the CDL and STIC. Efforts are being made to reach faculty in person, by e-mail, on the web, and in a variety of other ways. In the course of these outreach initiatives, librarians will provide faculty with a formal opportunity to contribute to the selection of future STIC content. While negotiations in 1998 are focusing on selected publishers, we anticipate that in future years material will be added to STIC on a title-by-title basis. Faculty are therefore being asked to identify the most important journal titles for their teaching and research so that, as these titles become available in electronic format, we can add them to the STIC collection. In addition to information from faculty, the results of citation studies on publications of UC faculty, recommendations from campus bibliographers, and focus groups designed to identify valuable UC-produced non-traditional literature, will help us to refine and develop the STIC collection.

In the spring of 1998, the Systemwide Library and Scholarly Information Committee will be asked to approve the next collection for the CDL. Work will then begin to define and develop that collection. At the same time, the STIC collection will be further refined, with the addition of more in-depth resources in selected disciplines.


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