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Digital Information Goals

Working Plan for Digital Information

Revised March 13, 1997

Corrected September 15, 1998


The University Library selects and provides information resources to the University's faculty, students, and staff in support of research and teaching. This basic mission is fulfilled through programs and services that are responsive to changes in scholarship, publishing, and education. In 1990 the Library promulgated Goals for the Year 2000 to establish directions to be pursued in the final decade of this century, with lead responsibility for implementation assigned to distinct organizational units. As anticipated at that time, developments in information technology have created new means of achieving the Library's mission. These changes are profound and pervasive: digital activities now permeate all areas of the Library and present choices requiring allocation of resources and priority-setting. This document focuses on five goals that constitute priorities for digital initiatives in support of the Library's overall mission.

The Library is already actively exploiting information technology and delivering information to users in digital form. Ongoing, core functions such as selection decisions, providing access to information, delivery of services to users, and the preservation of Library collections are increasingly influenced by digital options and opportunities. Several current projects, such as retrospective conversion and the CIC Virtual Electronic Library, are among the highest priority objectives enumerated in this document. Inter-institutional collaborative efforts and partnerships with faculty and campus units in the acquisition and creation of digital sources are important features of the new information environment. The University Library and others are transforming themselves into a national or global digital library composed of a distributed network of managed repositories and access tools. Traditional Library responsibilities of selection, organization, access, preservation, and instruction in use increasingly encompass electronic materials and shared resources. Specific digital information goals will guide the Library's aggressive effort to encourage and facilitate these transitions.

Now and into the foreseeable future, the Library and its users will operate in a mixed environment of print and digital information sources. Our locally owned collections in traditional formats will continue to be essential, but an increasing amount of new publications used by the University community will be stored in digital form and retrieved via networks. The transition to digital formats will vary by discipline. Digital formats are already the dominant medium for abstracting, indexing, and other bibliographic services, and the preferred if not yet dominant medium for reference literature. The amount of current journal literature in digital form, through still a small portion of the total universe, is growing and may be on the verge of exploding. For articles and research results electronic delivery offers major advantages of timeliness and economy and will increasingly become the preferred method of content delivery. Electronic versions of lengthier texts, where print may remain the preferred medium for reading and study for some time, are needed for computer-aided analysis.

The Library must continue to anticipate and adapt to an environment in which change is a constant, in which print and new technologies coexist in dynamic relationships to each other, and in which there are multiple, fragmented, heterogeneous information domains. The Library will play a leadership role in selecting, organizing, and providing paths and instruction for effective use of electronic information. The five goals enumerated in this document express the Library's commitment to promote access to and use of digital information. Cooperative activities, consultation with users, and an appropriate organizational infrastructure are essential components of digital library initiatives. Since specific strategies will continue to evolve, annual implementation plans provide a flexible structure of ongoing analysis and planning. Working Plan for Digital Information is intended to inform and engage the Library staff and University community, while itself being continually reviewed, revised, and renewed.

Working Plan for Digital Information

Digital Information Goals

With Associated Objectives and Strategies

Revised 3/13/97

*Strategies marked with an asterisk are high priority.


Greatly expand access to, and facilitate and promote the use of, digital information in support of the University's teaching and research mission.

Objective A:

Focus resources where they best support the present and anticipated future information needs of the research and scholarship of the University.


*1. Be proactive in the area of the electronic delivery of journals and preprints as the trend seems both clear and advantageous to the patron. Invest in e-journals and support technologies, experiment with various forms of delivery, and promote the use of e-journals to the campus community.

*2. Look for opportunities to reduce costs and increase access by evaluating products and negotiating with vendors as they develop and market their electronic journal consolidation products. (Examples include the Blackwell Navigator and well as products being developed by Swets and Ebsco.)

*3. Develop a strategy and action plan for selectively digitizing portions of the existing collection for the purposes of preservation and access.

4. Work with information producers and software developers as they begin pilot projects prior to the release of new electronic sources and services. Examples include JSTOR (Journal Storage Project), GOBI (Yankee Book Peddler's Global Online Bibliographic Information) and ARTFL (American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language).

5. Look for opportunities to reduce costs and increase access by evaluating products and negotiating directly with publishers as they begin to release electronic products that are of interest to the University of Chicago in those cases where CIC (Committee on Institutional Cooperation) or other multi-library groups have no interest in the product.

6. Work with publishers to develop and negotiate pricing and usage models that include clear and consistent billing practices, that allow for easy and widespread distribution of the product to authorized users, and to foster good communication about upcoming products.

Objective B:

Provide user-friendly electronic access paths to digital information.


*1. Use the World Wide Web, if necessary via Z39.50 gateways, to support unified access for users to information resources as well as bibliographic information about our own and other institutions' collections.

*2. Create a unified environment for Library-managed electronic resources that provides, as needed, customized navigation tools, local documentation, and access to user training and staff assistance.

3. Encourage University-wide access to information resources, avoiding, when possible, department-specific solutions.

4. Encourage acquisition of campus-wide, network resources which permit desktop access rather than resources which are site-specific.

5. As a factor in the resource selection process give preference to those resources and interfaces that encourage user self-sufficiency.

Objective C:

Provide the technical infrastructure within the Library, and actively foster its development throughout the University, to facilitate access to, and use of, digital information.


*1. Provide facilities (equipment, space, connectivity, software, printing) to allow users to work inside the Library with materials in all formats.

2. Implement a facility to deliver networked, campus-wide access to CD-ROM products.

3. Encourage, monitor, and develop campus- and CIC-wide security conventions, including identification, authentication, authorization, and accounting systems.

4. Activate in-Library laptop connections.

5. Participate in the SecureWeb project for intra-institutional authorization.

6. Provide public document scanning facilities in the Library to support the creation of digital text and documents by users.

Objective D:

Ensure that digital information with lasting value is preserved for future access.


*1. Support and participate in the development of national and consortial solutions to the archiving and preservation of digital information. For example, projects such as JSTOR and the Research Libraries Group (RLG)/ Commission on Preservation and Access Task Force on Archiving Digital Information are critical programs that will support our local collecting and archival priorities.

2. Institute a Library-wide review and policy formulation of archival requirements for various types of publications. The policy should address and reduce factors that inhibit the investment in and use of digital information. Decisions such as the following should be incorporated into resource selection decision-making and recorded: (1) do not archive; (2) retain non-electronic copies locally or consortially; (3) use non-library archiving agencies; and (4) create and maintain local digital archives.

Objective E:

Inform and educate the University community about available electronic information and how to find and use it.


*1. Develop a plan to market Library services to the University community. Use a variety of print and electronic media to inform the campus community about digital information sources. For example, develop an annual Library Electronic Information Fair to highlight new and developing resources and activities.

*2. Maintain a collaborative approach to the creation and development of user education programs within the Library. Draw upon the skills and talents of librarians and Library staff to identify and deliver user training and education programs. Foster the perspective that the acquisition of training skills and the development of programs is the responsibility of all librarians. Develop and deliver on-site Library instruction programs aimed at the College and emphasizing research strategies and practices relating to electronic resources.

*3. Make explicit to the University community that the Library plays a significant role in the development and delivery of user education and instruction programs for digital information at both broad and specific levels.

4. Encourage a dialogue within the University and the Library about the purposes and impact of this Working Plan in order to gather information and recommendations for its implementation.

Objective F:

Promote awareness of copyright issues, particularly the implications of various copyright agreements on faculty publications for subsequent transmission of electronic materials.


*1. Work with the University Provost and Deans to reach administrative understanding of general principles and practices regarding copyright.

*2. Develop consistent, Library-wide policies and procedures regarding licenses and agreements for access and use of digital information.

3. Support and participate in broad collaborative efforts to effectively deal with current and developing copyright regulations and related contract law and other legal issues. Efforts sponsored by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the CIC are key programs for Library involvement.

4. Ensure the adequate understanding of copyright and related issues by Library staff. Library procedures and activities should reflect Library policy about copyright. Librarians should be able to communicate basic information about copyright matters to patrons.

Objective G:

Encourage, support, and promote University and Library initiatives and enterprises that lead to the development and management of locally created digital information.


1. Work with the University Press, in the context of the CIC or ARL/American Association of University Presses (AAUP), to encourage development of alternative, non-commercial, electronic publications.

2. Work with faculty departments and designated University electronic support staff to aid local, Web-based publication of faculty articles, e-prints, research, and the creation of standard metadata for them.

3. Establish guidelines and policies for digital publications as well as electronic versions of works published or produced by Library departments and units.GOAL 2

Achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness in fulfilling the Library's responsibility for providing, managing, and maximizing electronic access to Library- or campus-held or owned information sources, through the Library's online catalog and other means of access, creatively utilizing new technologies where possible.

Objective A

Provide integrated electronic access to Library- or campus-owned or held physical or electronic information sources by creating bibliographic records for materials regardless of format.


*1. Complete the retrospective conversion project, expanding it to collections not included in the basic plan, and for which different approaches may be required, such as music recordings and government documents.

2. Aggressively pursue machine-enhanced access through systematic overlays of higher-level records, and expanded search capability for individual records.

3. Maximize outsourcing by pursuing value-added vendor services for cataloging records (e.g. Blackwell North America's Table of Contents and authority control services, Yankee Book Peddler's Cataloging-in-Publication data upgrade).

4. Continue to evolve standards for bibliographic access which promote expedited processing.

5. Apply collection-level records more aggressively and systematically to book, pamphlet and archival collections.

6. Create electronic finding aids for archival, visual and artifactual collections.

7. Adopt policies which promote expeditious movement of uncataloged materials to the classified stacks, e.g. "class, uncat" treatment for W materials.

8. Prioritize uncataloged or partially cataloged collections listed in the Inventory of Unprocessed and Partially Processed Arrearages, and develop a plan to address high-priority collections.

9. Initiate a process for evaluating the provision of electronic access to materials which by policy have not been cataloged.

Objective B

Develop the capability to create, maintain and use Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) embedded in the cataloging record to provide linked access to digitized information which is created or maintained locally.


*1. Continue present work to incorporate records for locally-held electronic information resources into the Library's catalog.

2. Adopt policies for local maintenance of URL information in cataloging records.

3. Ensure that Horizon is capable of using URLs.

4. Ensure that staff receive appropriate training and documentation in creation, maintenance and use of URLs.

Objective C

Explore options to expand access through the Library's catalog to information held in non-library locations on campus


1. Identify non-library locations/collections which are of potential interest to Library users.

2. Review the Media Review and Implementation Report for pertinent information on media holdings.

3. Evaluate the priority of providing access to each location/collection relative to Library users' needs.

4. Initiate contacts with responsible personnel.

Objective D

Improve access to course reserves by moving toward an electronic reserves environment for the University.


*1. Critically examine the advantages and disadvantages of commercial packages for electronic reserves, vs. "do-it-yourself" approaches, which make use of existing software such as Adobe Acrobat.

2. Determine what the Library can do to support this effort.

3. Promote an approach which places responsibility with the faculty, rather than the Library, to provide the electronic versions of the material.

4. Work with faculty to provide guidelines for electronic reserves and publicize the availability of this mode of access to reserves.


Expand the universe of information available to faculty, students, and staff through cooperative, coordinated resource development agreements and programs that ensure access to materials.

Objective A:

Expand and improve access to and delivery of all formats of information when resources are not directly owned, leased, or locally held.


*1. Implement the CIC Virtual Electronic Library (VEL) Interlibrary Loan/Document Retrieval Project.

2. Promote awareness of available resources not locally held, and facilitate the requesting of materials by the campus community.

3. Aggressively seek and implement strategies to efficiently manage an ever-increasing volume of interlibrary loan and document delivery requests.

4. Develop additional bi-lateral or reciprocal access and loan agreements with institutions holding resources of special interest to the community.

Objective B:

Investigate investment models and opportunities that encourage multi-library information projects.


*1. Continue to identify opportunities to reduce costs by negotiating consortial licensing agreements with vendors through CIC and other groups of libraries. (An example would be licensing Britannica Online via the CIC.)

2. Collaborate with CIC and other institutions to provide shared access to electronic information. (An example would be providing access to Current Contents through the Argonne National Laboratory.)

3. Pursue collaborative building of information resources by participation in selected multi-institutional projects. (An example would be participating in Health Web.)


Through communication and collaboration, ensure that Library collections and services meet the immediate and long-term needs of the University community.

Objective A:

Make an effort to understand the character of information use in the various disciplines. Engage faculty and students in planning, priority-setting, and decision-making about information sources, their format, and modes of access and delivery. Determine the Library's most useful roles in providing or supporting these information needs.


*1. Establish a faculty committee to work with the Library in understanding and advising on issues related to the changing information environment, with emphasis on digital information. The faculty committee should also act as a conduit for early forecasting of information needs through the University academic divisions and the role the Library might play in meeting these needs.

*2. Develop strategies for broad consultation with faculty and students on the selection, use, and archiving of digital information. Use informal and formal processes for collecting information on priorities and implementation plans.

3. Support explicit job expectations for bibliographers to work systematically and assertively with academic departments.

4. In order to better focus Library efforts, conduct further research into information-gathering practices among academics, focusing on these practices within an increasingly electronic environment.

Objective B:

Increase support for the information needs of students and particularly undergraduates, taking into account the University's intent to expand the size of the College and provide new facilities and services for undergraduates.


*1. Consider the Harper College Library and ways in which it might be re-deployed as a gateway library, emphasizing electronic resources, information, and on-site instruction.

2. Develop and deliver methods of interactive learning ("just in time" strategies) making use of the campus network.

3. Establish a role for the Library as the primary Web instructor for the University, emphasizing current and future uses of the Internet in teaching, research, and publishing.

4. Conduct further research into how students, especially College students, access information, and how they are likely to do so in the future.

Objective C:

Seek opportunities to collaborate with other departments and units within the University.


1. Form closer collaborations and alliances with Network Information Service, the Press, and other relevant University units to further the development and delivery of digital information.

2. Incorporate support for instructional technologies into strategic planning, drawing on the University Provost and Library reports on media.


Provide the appropriate administrative and physical infrastructure to support provision of digital information within the Library's mission.

Objective A:

Regularly assess the goals and objectives of the Working Plan for Digital Information and modify the organization of Library staff and services to maintain and enhance users' access to digital information.


*1. Prepare an annual action plan for digital initiatives, with clearly specified responsibilities, for discussion by Management Council and review by the Library Board.

*2. Specify the discrete needs of digital initiatives in the annual budget planning process.

3. Within the context of the Library's overall mission, conduct an annual review and evaluation of the Working Plan for Digital Information.

4. Conduct a review of the Library's organizational structure to ensure the support and implementation of goals and strategies.

5. Name a person (or group) to manage/oversee digital information initiatives.

6. Name a person (or group) to manage/oversee each strategy in the plan.

Objective B:

Modify when necessary the physical arrangement of the Library's collections and services to improve users' access to information in all formats.


1. Incorporate the relevant portions of the Working Plan for Digital Information into the Regenstein reconfiguration project with priority for implementation.

2. Develop plans for physical arrangement of electronic equipment, computer training facilities, and public service points in all libraries that are consistent with each other but responsive to the special circumstances of each library.

3. Survey the departmental libraries to determine their physical needs in relation to information technology (space, equipment, building infrastructure, etc.).

4. Develop priorities and funding strategies for physical modifications in departmental libraries in consultation with appropriate University departments, divisions or schools.

5. Design projects for physical modifications that support the effective delivery of digital information and seek funding to implement them.

Objective C:

Develop budgetary and collection development approaches that facilitate investment in information technology.


*1. Provide cost accounting and financial analysis capabilities that will aid in making decisions about allocation of all resources.

2. Encourage investment in electronic resources by establishing funds dedicated for their purchase.

3. Allocate a realistic annual budget for acquisition of desktop computer equipment and software that includes a fixed amount for replacement of older machines.

4. Fund innovative and experimental projects in digital technology and electronic information through fund reviews and reallocation.

5. Don't duplicate in print what is available digitally.

6. Explore equipment leasing, outsourcing and other strategies to give maximum flexibility in upgrading desktop hardware and software.

7. Reallocate resources from printed to digital materials.

8. Use selection strategy that weighs value and importance of resources independent of format.

9. Seek University community support for budgetary and collection development approaches.

10. Budget funds annually to extend and upgrade network infrastructure in all Library locations.

Objective D:

Provide Library staff with the skills and knowledge to facilitate the use of information technology and to effectively incorporate digital information into the Library's services.


*1. Review and rationalize Library structures for training--including but not limited to those aimed at Horizon, desktop software applications, and Internet and Web use--to ensure that appropriate technology training opportunities exist for all situations.

2. Create a status report, easily accessible on StaffInfo, that records progress in the review and selection of major electronic information sources for all subject areas. A dynamic record of titles proposed, under discussion, and selected will serve to keep bibliographers and reference staff alerted to new proposals and developments in the acquisition of digital information sources.

3. Identify and maintain a pool of trainers on the Library staff, and offer "train the trainer" opportunities to improve their skills.

4. Provide Library staff with suitable training facilities and access to computer equipment.

5. Coordinate with ACS (Academic Computer Services), other campus units, and the CIC to provide a full range of technology training opportunities for staff through joint development, shared offerings, information exchange, and other cooperative avenues.

6. Modify and replace furnishings to accommodate new technologies and to mitigate ergonomic stress on the staff.