CNI Spring 2010 Meeting

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Flowers for the Polish President and Cabinet

I attended the Spring 2010 CNI Meeting in Baltimore from April 12-13. I made a presentation and attended a number of sessions that were very informative. the event followed close on the heels of the death of the Polish president and his cabinet, which was very much on the minds of the people in the area (the picture here shows flowers at the Polish monument near the conference venue).


My Presentation on the need for a Reference Model for Distributed Digital Preservation

My CNI presentation concerned the need for a Reference Model for Distributed Digital Preservation. I made this presentation with my colleague, Dr. Katherine Skinner, Executive Director of the Educopia Institute. The following is the program text about this presentation:

"The digital preservation field is still emerging, but is a critical challenge for libraries, archives, and other cultural memory organizations today. The apparatuses, policies, and procedures for preserving digital information are still in the early stages of formation, and new collaborative strategies for such endeavors are emerging. This session will present new findings from collaborative preservation projects now being undertaken by the MetaArchive Cooperative and the University of North Texas (UNT).

Cultural memory organizations are now experimenting with a variety of approaches to both the technical and organizational frameworks that will enable them to succeed in offering the perfect continuity of digital data that is sought. However, most cultural memory organizations today are underprepared for the technical challenges incurred as they acquire, create, and preserve digital collections. As a result, troubling trends are already developing within this community that may be counterproductive to its overall aims. Some institutions are willingly giving up some of their curatorial responsibilities for their digital collections to third parties, precisely when these digital collections arguably are becoming their most important assets.

Most of the community's current roadblocks are not technical, but organizational, and they pivot on policy development and maintenance. This briefing will review the work that UNT and the MetaArchive Cooperative are engaged in to encourage and enable cultural memory organizations to work together to maintain their responsibility for managing their own digital collections.

Institutions need practical examples of how to accomplish digital preservation in manageable, low-cost ways. The successes that MetaArchive has achieved in recent years as a cooperative association indicate that well-managed collaborative efforts of cultural memory organizations may provide an effective organizational framework for preservation activities, and that different technical frameworks may be paired with this model to serve the needs of different communities. Such solutions as Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe (LOCKSS) and Integrated Rule-Oriented Data System (iRODS), packaging specifications such as BagIt, and emerging curation microservices and tools can be combined in different ways to effectively assist institutions in managing preservation using cooperative models and "hub and spoke" models. This session will examine several such models of digital preservation that are currently under consideration for statewide digitization efforts (such as the Texas Heritage Digitization Initiative)."

Opening Plenary Session: Exploring Institutional Implementation Strategies for Open Access Requirements

Monday -- 1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The opening plenary was very relevant to our own recent efforts on Open Access. Text from the program: "Some faculty governance bodies have passed resolutions calling for open access to the work of their members, or to retain certain rights to these materials on behalf of their institution. In addition, some funding agencies have mandated that publications resulting from funded research be freely available to the public through specific systems within a stipulated time after publication; other funders are considering similar requirements. Strategies for implementing such mandates raise a host of institutional management and policy questions, such as who has overall responsibility for implementation, how will the policy be translated into infrastructure and processes, who will fund implementation of new services, and how will the institution measure success or compliance."


  • Clifford Lynch, Coalition for Networked Information (moderator)
  • Ann Wolpert, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Deborah Ludwig, University of Kansas
  • Mary Marlino, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
  • Sue Kriegsman, Harvard University

The most interesting things that I noted on this panel were the differences between the various schools. MIT was notable in that it asserts intellectual property rights over all products of the university, "upstream" from any and all copyright assignments that their authors may make to publishers. This enables them to basically deposit whatever they want. Harvard had a middle ground. KU seemed to be getting a lot of pushback from their faculty.

Digital Scholarship in an Academic Research Library: UVa's Scholars' Lab

In this session Bethany Nowviskie (Director, Digital Research & Scholarship, University of Virginia), Michael Furlough (Assistant Dean for Scholarly Communications, Pennsylvania State University), and Anne Houston (Director, Humanities and Social Science Services, University of Virginia) discussed the Scholars Lab at UVA. I was interested in this session because we are considering similar projects at UNT.

Closing Plenary by Liz Lyon

Liz spoke about the ongoing work in UKOLN on strategies for fostering Open Science initiatives. I was particularly interested in her comments on the "socialization of science".

Overall Notes

CNI is always a very informative event. I appreciated being able to connect with many colleagues around the country and hear what's going on. All the sessions I went to were directly relevant to initiatives at UNT. I continue to think that we are leaders in some areas and need to catch up in others.

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