CALL held its September Business Meeting at the Rock Bottom Brewery, 1 W. Grand Ave., on September 17, 2015. President Julie Pabarja called the meeting to order at 12:10 p.m. and welcomed the new members. For today’s meeting there were 94 registrants.
Vice-President Todd Ito introduced and thanked our meeting sponsor, Priory Solutions. Laura Weidig, account executive at Priory, thanked CALL for the opportunity to sponsor the meeting and then presented an overview of Priory’s product offerings for tracking reference quests and aiding in knowledge management: Research Monitor and Quest.
Co-Editors Lindsey Carpino and Scott Vanderlin explained how to access the Bulletin in three different ways. Members can read the Bulletin in PDF via the link in the CALL listserv new issue announcement email. That email will also link to the web version at the Bulletin website. Members may also access the Bulletin through the Issues Tables of Contents archived at the CALL Bulletin site. Issues in PDF are archived at CALL’s main web page.
Lindsey announced that the Fall issue will be coming soon. That issue will include new member reports and student reports from area graduate schools of library and information science. Lindsey also announced that the Winter issue will have an international theme. Please send any ideas for articles to the Bulletin editors.
Committee Co-Chair Julie Swanson announced that the cash donations collected at today’s meeting will be given to HEART (Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers) and school supplies collected will be donated to the Chicago Public Schools school supply drive. Julie also noted that the Adopt a Beach event at Montrose Beach, hosted by the Alliance for the Great Lakes, will be held on Saturday, September 19th. Details on volunteering for this event will be posted on the CALL website.
Mentorship and Leadership Development
Committee Co-Chair Jamie Sommer announced upcoming programs. The Committee is launching a Mentorship and Networking Program and encourages individuals to apply to be either a mentor or mentee. An application form to sign up for either role will be on the Online Forms for Members part of the CALL website. Additional networking events are being planned as well.
Meeting Speaker: Bernard F. Reilly
Todd Ito introduced our meeting speaker, Bernard F. Reilly, President of the Center for Research Libraries, Global Resources Network. Prior to his role at CRL, Reilly was Director of Research and Access at the Chicago History Museum. From 1987 until 1997 Reilly was Head of the Curatorial Section in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress.
Mr. Reilly began with stating that “we’re at a critical moment in the mission of libraries today.” The mission hasn’t changed, but what libraries do has.
The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) was founded in 1949, formed as a consortium/corporation by 10 research universities in the Midwest. It was formed to meet the needs of a growing student population – made possible by the GI bill – which placed enormous financial pressure on collegiate institutions and their libraries. It was also formed to serve the information demand about events around the world – a need of great importance as the U.S. emerged as a global power following World War II. The universities needed to bind together to provide that amount of support.
Today, there are over 200 members of the CRL – primarily in the U.S. and Canada, though with some participation from other countries as well.
Through these institutions is made available an enormous pool of expertise with area and subject specialists across the member libraries. And every year, the member libraries invest $8 million (total) in the CRL.
Historically, the strengths of the CRL have been the sharing of expertise, pooling of resources, and cooperative collection-building. This collection-building has developed “area studies preservation projects” in Africa, Latin America, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Central and Eastern Europe. These projects focus on archiving a wide range of materials including legal materials. In some instances, these efforts have created the only repository that exists for the materials they are preserving. The CRL tries to focus these efforts specifically in conflict zones where preservation of material is in particular and immediate danger.
In 2014, CRL had projects running in Lithuania, Croatia, Egypt, Somalia, Peru, and Senegal.
Mr. Reilly then discussed some specific projects in more detail.
CRL is working in Sierra Leone to add that government’s official gazettes to CRL’s collection – which is the most comprehensive collection of government official gazettes worldwide. These publications are of particular importance as they are sometimes the only place where those nation’s laws are published. The topic guide for their collection of official gazettes [the Foreign Official Gazettes (FOG) database] may be viewed at https://www.crl.edu/collections/topics/official-gazettes.
In 2014, CRL recently received a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York in order to focus on preserving government documents from 10 of the most corrupt countries in the world, as determined by Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, 2012 report.
Reilly also spoke about CRL’s partnership with the Law Library Microform Consortium (LLMC) to capture materials that have been disappearing from libraries. CRL has invested $300,000 annually in this program. By partnering with these libraries, CRL is able to influence what needs to be prioritized – again focusing on emerging/developing countries, or countries where these documents are at most at risk. Reilly added the interesting, and probably little known fact that LLMC stores their print archives in salt mines in Kansas! (See “Thank Heaven for Dry Salt Mines,” The LLMC-Digital Newsletter, May 14, 2014, at 1 (PDF)) More about this partnership can be found at the CRL-LLMC Global Resources Partnership page.
Reilly talked about CRL’s increased interest in capturing news articles in digital format. Considering major national newspapers, the New York Times is the only one that maintains an archive of its digital content, beginning this effort in 1994. The Internet Archive and the Library of Congress have worked on archiving the content – but so much of this content is unusable due to dead links or missing content. The CRL would like to work directly with these large media organizations to capture their content. CRL published a Focus on Global Resources article on this topic in April 2011 – “Preserving News in the Digital Environment.”
Libraries are needed to pool their resources to effect important change – which often requires documentation of atrocities. Reilly spoke of a discovery of Guatemala City’s National Police Records – basically just piles and piles of material in a random government office. To preserve this material would have been too big for one library, so a group of governments funded the project to capture the data, led by multiple institutes at the University of Texas. CRL’s role in this project was to advocate for a place for these documents – to call attention to the need for a safe haven. For more on this project, read “The Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional de Guatemala at the University of Texas” (Focus on Global Resources, Winter 2012).
But as media changes so does the need for new tools to capture evidence of human rights violations in video and audio format.
CRL’s “Human Rights Electronic Evidence Study,” funded by the MacArthur Foundation in 2008, partnered multiple organizations whose mission is to advocate for monitoring of human rights violations. Significantly, these organizations also partnered with technology experts to be able to capture the different forms of documentation. The final report of this study described the life cycle of this type of data and brought to light that the current methods of data capture and creating access will no longer suffice in today’s technology-heavy media.
Reilly spoke about other data centers and projects that are capturing large amounts of data – some available to the public, some not so much. For example, NSA runs a data center in Utah , code-named the Bumblehive to handle their massive collection of data.
The Enigma website can be utilized to navigate the world of public data. The organization, comprising software engineers, data scientists, ethnographers, MBAs, graphic designers, and journalists, then packages the data and sells it to the financial industry.
See also the proceedings of LEVIATHAN – Libraries and Government Information in the Age of Big Data, a Global Resources Collections Forum held on April 24, 2014.
CRL’s role going forward will be less focused on the capturing of information and more focused about forcing transparency of how the documentation of human activities around the world are being produced, managed, and being made available to access – in short, the life cycle of information.
For any further questions, Mr. Reilly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CALL Member Questions
One member asked how CRL learns about obscure collections that need preserving – such as the Guatemala City police records. Reilly responded that they often come across these as part of other investigations sponsored by foundation grants.
Another member asked whether CRL utilizes any crowdsourcing techniques for data gathering such as what’s used by ProPublica. Reilly said that, while CRL does not use these techniques themselves, they do monitor these kinds of news-gathering and reporting organizations in case the content is at risk of going away. But CRL’s role is also to influence these organizations as to what they’re capturing.
One member asked about public access to the ICON newspaper database. Reilly said that this content is available only to member libraries of CRL. For this content, very little indexing is done – mostly these are page images with rudimentary OCR.
A member asked about how they get to materials in other countries – whether they send individuals there or whether the documents come to CRL. Reilly said that, for these types of projects, they try to do the digitizing on the ground. In some cases they are engaged by universities to preserve materials, such as the JFK Library project to digitize Hemingway’s papers in Cuba. CRL also often works with particular scholars to harvest material on the web for their academic studies.
Reilly expanded on this topic, saying that CRL is not tracking content of websites of corrupt governments or countries in conflict zones. But there is some harvesting of that material as part of the MacArthur-funded project. However, the technology to archive the web content is not as good as we think. There is limited integrity to the data and we cannot rely on comprehensive content capture.
A member asked whether the CIA shares data or information with the CRL and vice versa. While Reilly stated that this isn’t the case, he did note that some of the microform publishers in business today started out working for the CIA. In fact, the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) was run by the CIA from post-World War II through 10 years ago. In 2005, it became the Open Source Center. The data captured by this organization also included translations. Some of this data was being distributed through a commercial publisher – but that availability stopped two years ago – a source of much speculation.
Spirit of Law Librarianship Books
Copies of the “Spirit of Law Librarianship” books are available for new members.
Membership Survey Summary
The survey responses indicate that the CALL Membership loves CALL and we’re doing a great job! Members identified Networking Events and more Continuing Education programs as priorities for CALL. Those committees and the Board are working on increasing those events. An example of this kind of additional programming was the recent” What’s Buzzin’?” program held earlier this month on the topic of “What do academic law librarians teach the law students in law school? and What skills do law firm and court librarians wish new attorneys learned in law school?” The event had great attendance from law firm, court, and academic librarians and a lively discussion!
There is still room for more volunteers on the various CALL committees. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Julie Pabarja.
CALL will be implementing a new electronic system to manage the membership directory, renewals, and event registrations. The system will also accept credit cards. Keep an eye out for more information on this in the coming months.
AALL Program Proposals
The 2016 AALL Annual Meeting will be held in Chicago – and there is a lot of enthusiasm locally and nationally about coming to Chicago for this event. CALL members are well represented in the current AALL Leadership including Keith Ann Stiverson (AALL President), June Liebert (Chair of the Annual Meeting Program Committee, or AMPC), and Megan Butman and Maribel Nash (Co-Chairs of the AALL 2016 Annual Meeting Local Arrangements Committee).
The call for proposals and workshops is now open. There are good resources within the CALL membership for help with proposals including past and present members of the AMPC and members who have presented at AALL in the past.
The door prize drawing was donated by Lexis Nexis ($25 Amazon gift cards) – winners were Mary Lu Linnane and Beth Mrkvicka.
CALL will hold its next business meeting at Wildfire restaurant on November 19, 2015.