Just after Thanksgiving 2009, an extraordinary meeting of minds took place in the Bender Room of Stanford University’s Green Library. The invited guests represented many of the most forward-thinking university and national libraries in the world. Stanford and the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) conceived and co-hosted this gathering to discuss “how institutions can best integrate their digital collections with others in the global library community, what is needed to realize a truly integrated international library cyberinfrastructure.” A major premise was that “the piece-by-piece maturation of the digital library … is neither efficient nor sustainable.” By all accounts, the 61 participants, representing 24 institutions in 13 countries, found it surprisingly productive and stimulating as they strove over three days to articulate an unprecedented collective vision for going forward.
A summary report of the event goes public today at a new Web site; the report reviews the discussions and states the main themes and conclusions that emerged. The site heralds the creation of the Global Digital Libraries Collaborative, “an informal community for promoting international cooperation among libraries, archives, museums, and other guardians of worldwide cultural heritage. Its purpose is to promote research and development related to digital library collections and tools on an international scale and to encourage deep collaboration among information organizations to maximize cost efficiencies and user access.” A list of current projects and opportunities is also available at the same site.
Whether one dreads or embraces the digital era in libraries, there is no getting around the fact that scholarly information and scholarship itself will increasingly depend on electronic resources and tools. How we address the attending challenges will necessarily transform the way we do business. And the stakes are high, as noted in the summary, “Coordination and collaboration … are essential for the survival of our cultural heritage.” The great libraries will be involved in many efforts, some in partnership with commercial entities, but perhaps more significantly with our peers. The potential for the new group is that it may help us all do more, better, more creatively, with less redundancy, more transferability, and broader reach.
by Andrew Herkovic (via Joe Wible, Hopkins Marine Station)