No stereotype of libraries as quiet, uneventful places could survive the 1990s. Whatever stability and predictability libraries once had as ordered storehouses of the treasures of the printed word were shattered by the digital revolution. The intellectual function of libraries—to acquire, arrange, and make accessible the creative work of humankind—is being transformed by the explosion in the production and dissemination of information in digital form, especially over global networks.
The transformation in principle awaits realization in fact. Libraries in the last decade have begun to sweep in mountains of new forms of information and have been remarkably innovative in presenting and linking it with their existing collections. But no clear new paradigm has emerged, even as the old one is shaken. Will the distinctive features of the Western library survive? Will preserved information continue to be widely and freely available in public libraries? Will the great research libraries continue to be the point of entry to the information universe for their select bands of users? Will the integration of digital with print information succeed, or will print suffer a damaging loss of prestige in the general rush to exploit the possibilities of the Internet? Will new integrators and organizers of knowledge emerge, perhaps from the commercial sector, bypassing libraries and finding ways that succeed in putting information directly in users’ hands? No individual or committee knows the answers to those questions, but librarians must guide their institutions with an
acute awareness that the questions will be answered decisively—perhaps within a very few years.
The Library of Congress has totemic value as the largest and most prestigious library collection in the world. Its nature and location mean that it is perhaps used less (considering the size of its collections) than many smaller libraries, but the value of the use to which it is put is very high. Unique materials from all over the world are found there. The size and scope of the collection make it an invaluable laboratory for scholarly researchers. Equally important, the value of the collection means that its preservation is a task of national and global urgency.
But the central mission of the Library remains to serve the Congress that gives it a name and a budget. That mission sets up one tension that the Library has learned to manage. The possibility of extending access to its materials more easily than ever to individuals who do not wish to travel to Capitol Hill sets up another. Should the Library focus more attention on a broader American public? Does it have a role to play in direct library service to K-12 schools? Can and should it make the materials in its collection easily accessible to individual readers of all ages at home or in the office?
The Committee on an Information Technology Strategy for the Library of Congress was convened by the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB), which had been invited by the Library in 1998 to review the status of information technology planning and implementation in the Library with a view to helping it handle tensions like those just mentioned and helping it fulfill its missions. The committee’s task was emphatically not to prescribe a mission for the Library—that is for Congress and the Library itself to do. But the committee has ranged widely through the Library and its services and facilities in a fascinating voyage of exploration and interpretation. This report offers the Library support and guidance, along with some strong cautions, at this pivotal time.
The committee is firm in its belief that the Library continues to play a vital role in documenting and preserving the history of American creativity and in building a collection with truly worldwide scope. But the Library cannot go on as before.
The committee fears greatly that the Library’s function as a creature of Congress, within the federal bureaucracy, will make it unable to respond in a timely and effective way to the challenges that it faces. It sees signs that the Library is already losing the momentum and purchase required to make the next steep ascent. It is not so much that the Library is objectively behind other libraries in what it has done (although it is far from a leader in most areas) but that it is not thinking far enough ahead to enable it to act strategically and coherently.
At the heart of its recommendations is the committee’s strong aware-
ness of the role of digital information at the center of contemporary discourse. That role is a simple fact, unrelated to whatever e-zealots or bibliophiles might wish to be the case. For some important areas of human knowledge, the best new knowledge can be acquired exclusively in digital form. In other areas, digital presentation lags significantly—for the moment. For example, since the committee began its work in January 1999, the movement toward “books on demand” (that is, books stored in digital form and made available either digitally or on paper in single or a few copies, as required) has gathered surprising momentum. The broader cultural movement cannot be gainsayed.
The Library of Congress (LC), as recipient of mandatory deposit copies of works published in the United States, lags significantly in receiving and archiving the born-digital product of the nation. The several processes of copyright registration, deposit receipt, selection for the Library’s collection, and entry into the Library collection remain focused on physical artifacts. The committee believes and recommends strongly that to create a truly functional contemporary Library, those processes should be adapted to accommodate both physical and digital artifacts. This means building a process that captures every form of the richness of human creativity—bound books on acid-free paper, ephemeral newspapers and journals, film and tape archives of the mass media of the twentieth century, newer forms of multimedia digital presentations on CD-ROM, and the multitudinous pages of the World Wide Web. The resultant process should capture the digital artifact, register and/or deposit it for the Copyright Office, pass it along to those who decide whether to include it in the Library, and allow it to be incorporated digitally in the collection, with the optimum flow-through of information for registration, cataloging, indexing, and preservation. Such a process would revolutionize access to information and the efficiency of its acquisition and preservation.
Can LC handle such tasks? The committee has reason for concern. This report details its concerns with the management and human resources processes (many of them imposed on the Library from outside) that make it respond slowly to challenge and change. The committee does not see, moreover, that the Library leadership has internalized and expressed a strategic vision or found the tools with which to implement any such vision well enough or fast enough.
The committee has praise for many of the Library’s initiatives. For example, the National Digital Library Program has been a dramatic example of what can be done when there is innovative management and a clear goal. What the Library now needs to do is learn from that project and broaden and deepen its strategic awareness of how that project can help lead to the next generation of substantially more ambitious involvement with digital information.
The committee worries as well that the Library is not sufficiently involved in the wider international community of research and practice surrounding contemporary librarianship. It strongly urges that the Library be more open-minded and community-minded than it has been in the recent past. Involvement with that burgeoning and exciting body of thought and practice would have a powerful and transformational effect on the Library and its ability to perform its mission for future generations.
It is indicative of the Library’s struggles in shifting to new forms of information that its technology infrastructure lags behind not only that of the commercial world but also that of ambitious, not-for-profit research libraries. The committee includes in this report specific recommendations for enhancing that infrastructure, particularly in the area of networks, databases, and information technology security.
The report ranges more widely than this summary can suggest and includes detailed recommendations on some aspects of the technology itself. But the committee is convinced that the heart of what it has learned and the heart of the Library’s future are in the areas touched on above: (1) inventing a new form for acquiring and preserving materials that include digital information in all its forms, in particular information that is born digital; (2) opening itself to broader and deeper dialogue with the world of information professionals beyond its walls; (3) finding the management vision and will to make paradigmatic change happen in the organization; and (4) investing in the technology infrastructure required to support such change.
The alternative to progress along these lines is simple: the Library of Congress could become a book museum. It could house a collection of priceless materials less and less frequently consulted and less and less central to the concerns of the nation. But a library is not a book museum. A library’s value lies in its vitality, in the way its collections grow, and in the way that growth is rewarded by the diverse and innovative uses to which its collections are put. The Library of Congress will, by the choices it makes now and in the next months and years, determine how much of that vitality will survive into the new millennium and how well it can avoid subsiding into diminished relevance.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This report ranges over many subjects, from managing human resources and developing collaborative arrangements to designing a digital preservation program and implementing computer security technologies. The mandate to provide the Library of Congress with both general direction and specific advice has led the committee to numerous findings and recommendations. This Executive Summary provides an outline of the
report’s conclusions and collects the findings and recommendations in one place. In doing so, however, it sacrifices an essential element—the richly textured context that is needed for full understanding. To read only this summary would gravely risk preferring tactics to strategy and quick fixes to hard institutional work.
Building Digital Collections
Collections and Access
While the Library of Congress and virtually all other libraries have well-developed policy statements to guide their acquisition of physical artifacts, analogous policy statements need to be fashioned for the digital content. No one institution, not even the Library of Congress, can hope to collect all or even a majority of all digital content. Thus, cooperative arrangements for distributed collections are not merely an option to consider but are essential for LC’s future and need to be pursued more aggressively.
Recommendation: The Library should explicitly define the sets of digital resources for which it will assume long-term curatorial responsibility.
Recommendation: For digital resources for which the Library does not assume long-term curatorial responsibility, the Library should work with other institutions to define appropriate levels of responsibility for preservation and access. Some materials that the Library acquires and makes available to its users may have only temporary value; other materials may be hosted on a Library site for more efficient access, with long-term archiving responsibilities accepted by another party.
Recommendation: The Library should selectively adopt the portal model1 for targeted program areas. By creating links from the Library’s Web site, this approach would make available the ever-increasing body of research materials distributed across the Internet. The Library would be responsible for carefully selecting and arranging for access to licensed commercial resources for its users, but it would not house local copies of materials or assume responsibility for long-term preservation.
The Library is in a unique position to demand the deposit of many digital materials. The Library should put in place mechanisms to systematically address the infrastructure required for it to “collect” digital materials.
Finding: The Library urgently requires a production-quality system for receiving and managing digital objects deposited with it and registered for copyright. Such a system will enable the Library to enforce the deposit requirement for born-digital materials.
Finding: The new production system needs to integrate well with other Library systems; the new system should at the same time make it easier for providers of information to register and deposit their works.
Recommendation: The Copyright Office should complete the statement of work for a production system in FY01, as planned, and as soon as possible (e.g., by the end of calendar year 2000). To achieve this goal, the resources and attention of Library-wide senior management should be directed to the Copyright Office, perhaps on a scale and with visibility comparable to those of the Integrated Library System implementation. The committee urges the Congress to support and fund the acquisition of a production system for receiving and managing digital objects.
Finding: The Library’s mechanisms and policies for the deposit of digital works currently favor printouts or tangible forms (such as CD-ROMs) over digital editions of digital works. This strategy is shortsighted because an increasing amount of born-digital information cannot be represented in tangible form and is much less useful if reduced to print or analog form. Tangible physical objects also require extensive physical handling for registration, cataloging, shelving, retrieval, and use.
Recommendation: The Library should set new standards for the appropriate formats for digital materials acquired through copyright deposit, purchase, exchange, and donation and should review those standards annually. The concept of “best edition” must be revisited to remove the present bias in favor of
paper editions. Each class of materials should be considered separately, depending on its specific physical and digital properties, for current access and preservation purposes.2 The complexity of these issues will increase as the digital environment evolves. Accordingly, the Library must have an ongoing capacity to monitor these issues closely and systematically and have sophisticated staff involved in the deliberations.
Copyright deposit is not the only means by which the Library can acquire digital materials for its collections. However, publishers may be reluctant to provide the Library with digital content without a specific agreement on how that content may be accessed. One experiment under way at the Library concerns the dissertations managed by ProQuest, whereby access is provided to users in LC buildings.
Recommendation: The ProQuest agreement serves as an interesting experiment in how the Library might handle digital collections. In such arrangements, the Library must pay particular attention to its legal rights and responsibilities in the event of default. It must establish and regularly test its capacity to accept and make available such collections, if it should be called on to do so.3
Recommendation: The committee believes that the Library is in a unique position to demand the deposit of some digital materials and to require agreements for shared custody or failsafe preservation should the materials become unavailable; it should do so.
See the discussion in Chapter 1 on the recent and dramatic rise of e-books. Consideration will have to be given in the very near future to the question of when the best edition of a popular new novel is the digital file from which both paper and electronic copies are derived.
The committee has one worry about using the ProQuest agreement as a model, however. The Library chose in this case to deal with a commercial service provider to find ways to handle its “content.” But there is no sign that LC recognized in undertaking the project that the academic community has a substantial interest in the way dissertations are managed. The committee urges that future arrangements take into account content as well as form and that LC seek to include stakeholders broadly in designing future arrangements for specific classes of information.
The World Wide Web
The Library should begin work immediately to define appropriate collecting policies for U.S. Web sites.
Recommendation: The Library should aggressively pursue clarification of its right to collect copies of U.S.-based Web sites under the copyright deposit law. If questions about this right remain, then LC should seek legislation that changes the copyright law to ensure that it has this right. This right would not necessarily include the right for LC to provide unlimited access to the Web sites collected.
Recommendation: The Library should conduct additional pilot projects to gain experience in harvesting and archiving U.S.-based Web sites. Such projects should be carried out in partnership with experts or organizations that have the requisite expertise.
Recommendation: The Library should quickly translate the experience gained from pilot projects into appropriate collecting policies related to U.S. Web sites.
To acquire, organize, serve, and preserve digital collections having the same breadth, depth, and value as its physical collections, the Library of Congress needs to develop systems, policies, procedures, and skilled staff equivalent to those in place for its physical collections.
Recommendation: The Library should put in place mechanisms that systematically address the policies, procedures, and infrastructure required for it to collect diverse types of digital resources and to integrate them into its systems for description and cataloging, access, and preservation.
Recommendation: Throughout the Library and particularly in Library Services, the acquisition and management of digital collections will require that the professional librarians have high levels of technological awareness and ability. The Library needs to undertake job redesign, training, and reorganization to achieve this goal.
Preserving a Digital Heritage
Digital Preservation as a Global Concern
Digital preservation raises issues that cannot be addressed fully within the walls of any one institution. The scale and scope of digital preservation demand cooperation among libraries and other information organizations. Engagement with electronic publishers and the research and development community is needed because many of the legal, economic, and technical issues surrounding digital preservation are unresolved. The involvement of the Congress will also be needed if the copyright law has to change to enable digital preservation.
Finding: Because of intellectual property law and the uncertainty of some publishers regarding the deposit of copies of digital works, institutions with long-term preservation responsibilities must seek and develop new means of ensuring continuing access to the valuable documentation of history, culture, and creativity. One possible approach is contractual agreements with rights holders who maintain digital information in off-site repositories, with provisions for deposit in a library or other institution should the publisher cease to maintain the information. Some publishers have agreed to provide perpetual access to their materials as one of the conditions of a license. The Library has initiated an experiment in reaching such an agreement with ProQuest. The committee believes that such arrangements need to be tested carefully and that other models need to be explored as well.
Recommendation: The Library should establish contractual arrangements (i.e., projects) in 2000 and 2001 with a pilot set of publishers and distributors of significant digital content, in order to conduct additional experimental programs for storing and maintaining digital information in off-site and on-site respositories.
Recommendation: For all fail-safe arrangements, the Library must regularly test the integrity of the materials and systems and its capacity to accept responsibility in a timely way. Such tests will demonstrate whether LC has the appropriate technical capability and whether the arrangements with publishers are realistic ones.
Finding: Many national libraries, university research libraries, national archives, bibliographic utilities, and organizations with large holdings of digital information are actively pursuing solutions to the problems of digital preservation. Although the Library of Congress might have been expected to provide leadership in this area as it once did in others, LC has at best played only a minimal role in these initiatives. As a consequence, it has little awareness of potential solutions that are emerging from joint research and development projects and has not contributed much to this important national and international problem for the library community.
Recommendation: Ensuring its leadership in digital preservation will require the Library to hire or develop relevant expertise. The Library should join and, where possible, lead or facilitate national and international research and development efforts in digital preservation. There are opportunities for the Library to learn from and contribute to such efforts in preserving born-digital information and converting certain types of information to digital form as a preservation strategy.
Recommendation: To make it a safe haven for preservation purposes, the Library should take an active role—including working with the Congress if necessary—in efforts to rework intellectual property restraints on copying and migration.
Actions by the Library of Congress
For many years, the Library has been a leader in the preservation of physical artifacts. By contrast, there has been little emphasis on digital preservation. Policies and practices for digital preservation need to be developed to accommodate the expected immense growth of digital materials in the Library’s collections. Preservation issues need to be addressed in a coordinated way—that is, the copyright deposit of digital content, building of digital collections, design of the digital repository, and development of digital preservation capabilities need to be considered holistically.
Finding: The Library of Congress lacks an overarching strategy and long-range plan for digital preservation. (In recent years, it has also been without a permanent head for its Preservation Directorate.) Although the Library has preserved many of its own digital resources, including the full-text databases of the
THOMAS system, its own bibliographic databases, and the content, descriptive information, and retrieval capabilities of the National Digital Library Program, these efforts are not coordinated with each other or with efforts to address the larger problem of capturing and preserving born-digital content, nor is there any strategy, plan, or infrastructure to capture, manage, and preserve born-digital information that originates outside the Library.
Recommendation: The Library should immediately form a high-level planning group to coordinate digital preservation efforts and develop the policies, technical capacity, and expertise to preserve digital information. The hiring of someone who is knowledgeable about digital preservation as a new head of the Preservation Directorate must be given high priority.
Recommendation: The Library should put a digital preservation plan in place and implement it as soon as possible, taking into account life-cycle costs and minimizing the need for manual intervention. The Open Archival Information System (OAIS) reference model provides a useful framework for identifying the requirements for a digital archiving system. The initiative by the Council on Library and Information Resources that builds on the OAIS should also be consulted.
Organizing Intellectual Access to Digital Information: From Cataloging to Metadata
The Library of Congress has historically played and continues to play an essential role in coordinating the cataloging standards that have made cooperative cataloging possible. This coordination should continue, and LC should examine how its role could be extended and transformed in the Internet context. The past strategy of coordinating efforts primarily within the library community is no longer sufficient because now important new stakeholders such as Web search companies and online publishers are involved.
Finding: The Library of Congress is heavily involved in the creation and use of metadata and has long been a leader in the establishment of standards and practices. However, the metadata environment is evolving rapidly. This will have profound implications for libraries and other information providers generally and for the Library of Congress in particular. It is a
responsibility of the Library, and indeed of the nation, to offer leadership here for the benefit of the national and worldwide communities of information providers and users.
Recommendation: The Library should treat the development of a richer but more complex metadata environment as a strategic issue, increasing dramatically its level of involvement and planning in this area, and it should be much more actively involved with the library and information community in advancing the evolution of metadata practices. This effort will require the dedication of resources, direct involvement by the Librarian in setting and adjusting expectations, and the strong commitment of a project leader assigned from the Executive Committee of the Library.
Recommendation: The Library should actively encourage and participate in efforts to develop tools for automatically creating metadata. These tools should be integrated in the cataloging work flow.
The Library of Congress and the World Beyond Its Walls
The Library of Congress as Convenor, Coordinator, Partner, Collaborator, and Leader
The committee observes that the Library of Congress has become increasingly insular during the past 10 years or so. At the same time, the library field has been changing radically, often impinging in areas that were not historically considered to be within its domain (just as other fields are impinging on library matters). Revolutionary changes in industries such as publishing, entertainment, and software and technological developments at universities and in government mean that outreach and engagement beyond Capitol Hill, at home and abroad, are more important than ever. The trend to insularity at LC must be halted and reversed immediately.
Finding: The current transition to digital content calls for extraordinary, unprecedented collaboration and coordination. In most aspects of its work, however, the Library of Congress functions too much in isolation from its clients and peers.
Recommendation: Each major unit of the Library should create an advisory council comprising members from the library, user,
and service provider communities, including the private sector. The council for library services, for example, should include scholars, general readers, research librarians, public librarians, computer service providers, and publishers. Other units would benefit as well from consultation in this form. Different units of the Library will naturally lend themselves to different configurations of advisory council. Even the Congressional Research Service, which has the closest relationship with a defined community, would benefit from such an arrangement.
Finding: The Library has been too little visible on the national and international stages, particularly in the digital arena.
Recommendation: The Library needs to be more proactive in bringing together stakeholders as partners in digital publishing and digital library research and development (such as the Digital Libraries Initiative). Box 6.1 in Chapter 6 articulates some specific areas in which LC should take the initiative and/or play a leading role.
Recommendation: The Library of Congress needs to improve its relationships with the Online Computer Library Center and the Research Libraries Group to facilitate the collaborations that will need to take place. Regular executive meetings supplemented by ongoing staff contacts (e.g., a middle management working council) will be necessary to build cooperation.
Recommendation: The Library of Congress needs to develop a regular working relationship at the senior policy level with federal institutions such as the National Library of Medicine, the National Agricultural Library, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the Smithsonian Institution. Other federal agencies with related missions (such as the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education) might also be included.
Funding and Budgetary Issues
Many of the digital initiatives discussed in this report have additional direct costs, because they do not replace existing processes but instead add to the work of the Library. While the committee discussed possible sources for funding—including increases in the Library’s congressional appropriation, gifts from industry or foundations, cost savings derived
from reducing workload in certain areas of the Library, or revenue-producing initiatives—it does not make a specific recommendation regarding the source of funds, in part because it believes that such a recommendation is outside the scope of the study and in part because it lacks the expertise needed to make such a recommendation.
Finding: The Library of Congress is constrained in what it can do by its dependence on congressional funding as well as by other constraints on the ways in which its precious materials can be made better known and be more widely used by the world at large.
Recommendation: The Library of Congress should address the agendas that it is best positioned to address, especially those that are likely to be achieved with public funding. The committee points out two agendas in particular: (1) developing digital collections to address the needs of researchers and (2) facilitating progress on digital preservation and metadata.
Recommendation: Limitations on the Library’s ability to generate revenue from its activities should be revisited and restrictions eased, where possible, in order to facilitate mutually beneficial relationships with outside entities. It is unlikely and undesirable that such activity would become a major source of funding—and the committee cannot emphasize too strongly that such revenues should never be taken as an excuse for limiting or reducing government funding for the core missions of the Library—but room must be made for experimentation and partnership.
Finding: Year-to-year operating funds and traditional capital funds will be inadequate sources of funding for new Library initiatives for the foreseeable future because the initiatives are not likely to result in significant cost savings and may well require increased funding—for instance, the National Digital Library Program adds costs and does not result in any savings, because the capabilities being developed are new and do not replace any existing processes.
Recommendation: Fund-raising successes with the National Digital Library Program and the Madison Council should be extended to give greater direct support for the Library’s core strategy areas. Potential funders include traditional philan-
thropic givers, corporate partnerships, and newly established high-tech corporations (the “dot-coms”) with an interest in the activities supported.
The Library shares with other federal government agencies the challenge of recruiting cutting-edge technical professionals, because it, too, has limited discretion with respect to compensation and hiring practices. There are also some Library-specific issues that compound the difficulties in hiring and promoting technical staff, namely, constraints stemming from the Cook case—a lawsuit that alleged discrimination in the Library’s hiring and promotional practices.
Finding: A nimble Library would be positioned to recruit the best and brightest and to keep up with changes in areas affecting its digital future (technology, library professionals).
Recommendation: As Library employees retire, the automatic hiring of replacements with similar skills should be resisted. Retirements should instead be viewed as opportunities to hire staff with the qualifications in librarianship and technology needed to meet the digital challenge, and reengineering should be rewarded when senior management allocates staff positions to units.
Finding: The National Digital Library Program has managed to attract an excellent and effective technical staff. The hiring of temporary “not to exceed” staff and contractors with special skills necessary for NDLP was accomplished rapidly.
Recommendation: The idea of greater reliance on outsourcing and contract employees should be pursued. This initiative must be driven by senior LC management and led jointly by the Human Resources Services Directorate and the heads of the Library’s major service units.
Recommendation: Current staff of the National Digital Library Program should be aggressively recruited for retention and assimilation into the broader Library staff.
Professional Development and Organizational Learning
As a consequence of the digital revolution, the Library will need to change its core work processes in a fundamental way in the new decade. Commensurate changes in the capabilities of the staff and the structure of the institution will be needed. The Library must adopt policies and procedures that enable these changes.
Finding: The long tenure of many LC employees means that new skills and ideas are less likely to come to the Library through new employees who bring them along from other employers or schools. Instead, innovation must be fostered by the development of existing staff. Thus, training for Library employees is even more important than for the employees of most private-sector organizations.
Finding: Employees of the Library who might be expected to want to develop their professional skills have few opportunities and receive little encouragement. As a result, they have little interest in or motivation for learning.
Recommendation: The Library needs to provide more training opportunities for staff. Professional development, outside technical training, and practice in using the training are all crucial. Congress should be asked to increase the Library’s training budget by a significant amount. This increase should be more than an incremental one—it should be on the order of a doubling or tripling of this year’s amount in the next budget submitted to the Congress (for FY02).
Recommendation: The Library must increase the number of junior- and senior-level staff involved in professional association activities. Such involvement can be a source of learning as well as of networking, which can lead to more effective recruitment. It must also increase its training and travel budget to encourage staffers to participate in and assume leadership roles within the Library and in the professional community.
Finding: Additional learning opportunities for LC staff could come through internships at other organizations and through linkages to professionals in every part of the Library. Opportunities for learning could also be created by rotating personnel out for temporary duty in congruent government agencies.
Recommendation: Extending Library internships to both graduate and undergraduate students from professional schools and other academic institutions appears to have been successful and should be used more widely.
Recommendation: The Library of Congress leadership must encourage a culture of innovation and learning in the Library. Actively nurturing the development of staff to take on the next generation of responsibilities is a vital but neglected area of management in LC.
Recommendation: Teams of persons with unlike skills should be created, whereby those with more technical prowess are encouraged to help those with less. Such teams should be responsible for a real product or function and should have an identifiable audience or customer. The Whole-Book Pilot Program exemplifies an approach that should be adapted for other contexts.
Recommendation: A formal assessment and report of lessons learned from the Integrated Library System implementation should be prepared and completed by January 1, 2001, with an emphasis on findings that can guide future projects.
Recommendation: Human resources staff—both in the Human Resources Services Directorate and within the major service units—should become agents of change and business partners more rapidly than is foreseen in the HR21 plan.
Strategic Planning and Executive Management
The Library’s ability to accomplish its fundamental mission is hampered by insufficient integration of strategic vision with an understanding of the nature, power, and impact of information technology. The question is not how to add or empower technical expertise, but how to suffuse the management and planning processes of the Library with a profound awareness of current and future technological developments.
Finding: Current decision making at the Library regarding information technology is neither transparent nor strategic. In particular, the lines distinguishing central responsibility from service unit responsibility are unclear.
Finding: Priority setting within the Information Technology Services Directorate is largely free from review by senior management.
Finding: The current level of attention to technical vision and strategy within the Library is not adequate, and the flow of information and ideas from the library community and the information technology sector at large into the Library needs to be enhanced.
Recommendation: The Library should establish an information technology vision, strategy, research, and planning (ITVSRP) group.
Recommendation: The Library should establish an external technical advisory board (TAB).
Recommendation: The Library should not appoint a chief information officer at this time.
Recommendation: The Library should create a limited number of visiting research positions in areas such as digital libraries and digital archiving and preservation.
Finding: The future of libraries and the future of information technology are inseparable.
Finding: The Planning, Management, and Evaluation Directorate might assist usefully with the process of strategic planning, but there remains a need for improved substantive input into the strategic planning process.
Finding: Before taking up their present appointments, the three senior-most members of Library-wide administration (the librarian, deputy librarian, and chief of staff) did not have particular expertise or experience in library administration or information technology.
Recommendation: The committee recommends appointment of a new deputy librarian (Strategic Initiatives) to supplement the strengths and capabilities of the three members of the Library-wide administration now in place.
Finding: Much of the workflow of the Library is manually based. There seems to be much opportunity for workflow automation. However, the approach should not be to use information technology to automate existing processes but rather to examine the processes themselves and rationalize them across unit boundaries before new information systems are designed and developed or acquired. The Whole-Book Cataloging Pilot Program of some years ago shows how such reengineering can be piloted in limited areas and then extended to a broader range of Library operations. The Copyright Office and the interface between it and Library Services is the first place that deserves attention.
Recommendation: The committee recommends that the Library publish, by January 1, 2001, its own review of this report and an outline of the agenda that the Library will pursue.
The Information Technology Infrastructure
As is true for the entire Library, the Information Technology Services (ITS) Directorate is underinvesting in professional development.
Finding: As the Library increasingly outsources its information technology tasks, it will continue to need a strong in-house information technology organization to perform some in-house development, training, support, and operations and to review and monitor these outside contracts as well as to provide technical feedback on proposed contracts.
Finding: The Library is underinvesting in the continuing education of its Information Technology Services Directorate staff in technical development and in new skills such as contract management.
Recommendation: The Library should budget much more of each technical staff member’s time for continuing education and participation at professional conferences and should allocate more funds to cover travel and registration expenses.
Recommendation: A practice and a budget should be established to partner members of the Information Technology Ser-
vices Directorate staff who are interested in exploring a particular new technology with staff in the service units or with outside institutions that are interested in working on a pilot project applicable to the Library’s needs.
Managing the Information Technology Services Directorate
The ITS Directorate operates with relatively little accountability to the executive management of the Library and its major service units. The basic systems for oversight that are typical in a service organization need to be installed.
Finding: The ITS Directorate lacks measurement and reporting systems and a cost-accounting system that would allow it and its clients to make trade-offs among implementation alternatives and to evaluate the quality of the ITS Directorate’s service.
Recommendation: Together, the Library’s service organizations and its Information Technology Services Directorate should institute service-level agreements based on metrics of system availability, performance, and support requests. These metrics should be used to track ITS Directorate process improvements. Developing and implementing service-level agreements should be a high priority for the new deputy librarian (Strategic Initiatives) and the information technology vision, strategy, research, and planning group.
Recommendation: Wherever possible, services provided by the Information Technology Services Directorate should be charged against the budgets of the client organization within the Library. This would allow comparing the costs and benefits of servicing from within the client organization, outsourcing to the ITS Directorate, or outsourcing outside the Library.
Hardware and Software
Many aspects of the technology at LC—computer and communications security, networks, and data storage—urgently need to be improved.
Finding: E-mail is not yet universal in the Library.
Recommendation: Infrastructure should be deployed so that all Library employees have easy access to e-mail.
Finding: LC computer and information security competence and policies are seriously inadequate.
Recommendation: The Library should hire or contract with technical experts to examine the current situation and recommend a plan to secure LC information systems. Then, once a plan is in hand, the Library should implement it.
Finding: Although the Library has identified a disaster recovery strategy as a priority, Congress has decided not to fund the implementation of any such strategy.
Recommendation: Congress should provide the funding for a disaster recovery strategy and its implementation for the Library.
Finding: The Library’s networking infrastructure needs urgent attention with respect to serving both current and future needs. The Library’s current policy is to upgrade to fast Ethernet as needed, which is problematic (it is difficult to identify the need in an accurate and timely fashion). The ATM switch currently used as a backbone is poorly matched to the near-term needs of the Library. Network performance is measured on an ad hoc basis at best, so performance information is generally not available when it is really needed.
Recommendation: The Information Technology Services Directorate needs to upgrade all of the Library’s local area networks to 100 megabit/second Ethernet on an as-soon-as-possible basis rather than on an as-needed basis. It also needs to replace the ATM switch with Ethernet switches of 1 gigabit or greater and institute continuous performance measurement of internal network usage and Internet access usage. The Congress should provide funding to support these upgrades.
Recommendation: The use of a network firewall as the sole means of segregating internal from external usage of LC systems needs to be augmented as soon as is feasible in favor of a “defense in depth” that incorporates defensive security on the individual computer systems of the Library.
Finding: The Library’s storage pool goals of maintaining current, authoritative information very reliably and keeping track of older material are muddled. The current approach, which entails high-priced storage, makes it prohibitively expensive to put most of the Library online. The disaster recovery plan will nearly double the storage requirements.
Recommendation: The Library should establish disk-based storage for online data and for an online disaster recovery facility using low-cost commodity disks. The Library should also experiment with disk mirroring across a network to two or three distant sites that maintain replicas, for availability and reliability of archives, and use tapes exclusively to hold files that are rarely needed. Some of the resources being spent on installing a separate specialized storage area network for disk sharing should instead be spent on a general, high-performance network for those and other needs.
Finding: The implementation of a robust digital repository is needed to support the Library’s major digital initiatives. The current rate of progress in implementing such a repository is not adequate.
Recommendation: The Library should place a higher priority on implementing an appropriate repository.