Global Resources - a system-wide perspective


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  • Coverage of non-English language resources in the global library system as it is represented in WorldCat has shown steady growth. Since mid 2008, more than half of the titles registered in WorldCat represent non-English language content. So clearly there is an important trend toward ‘internationalization’ of the library system as it is reflected in WorldCat. However, the growth in non-English collections is not a reflection of major changes in collecting behaviors among US university libraries but rather a deliberate effort to add non US national bibliographies and university library holdings to our catalog. This means that the uptick in coverage of non-English language content does not track with an uptick in availability of that content in the US.
  • As a further illustration of this, we can consider the example of languages deemed ‘critical priorities’ by the US Department of State. As this graph shows, there has been significant growth in the number of titles in 6 of the 7 priority languages since about 2007. This coincides with efforts to expand coverage of non US national libraries in WorldCat. New partnerships with the National Libraries of China and Taiwan contributed to the rapid growth of Chinese language titles; contributions from the University of Hong Kong were also a major factor. In this same period, we added records from the National Library of Iraq and the Arabic Union Catalog, which is managed in Riyadh. Another major factor was the merging of WorldCat and another large union catalogue (RLIN) that included a much richer base of library materials in non-Roman scripts (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Hebrew and Cyrillic).So this tells us that the scope of the library system as it is reflected in WorldCat has diversified significantly in areas that are important to US interests. But it is not necessarily the case that the ‘existence proof’ that these titles exist in the library system translates into increased availability for US researchers.
  • A network of >125 institutions supporting foreign language education and area studies scholarship for 10 global regions. Part of larger system of >3000 colleges and universities in the US.Over the past six months, we have looked at how the coverage of global resources in NRC libraries compares to library collections outside the NRC network.
  • One of the most striking findings of this analysis is the highly diffuse nature of global resource collections. For example, even the most comprehensive institutional collections fall far short of achieving significant coverage of literature related to particular geographies. In this example, for Crimea, we see that among the largest NRC libraries coverage varies from 11% to a maximum of 47%. What this suggests is that more than half of the literature related to Crimea is dispersed across library system as a whole. That’s a potentially significant gap in evidence base for scholarship and policy making.
  • If we look beyond the network of National Resource Centers for Russia and Eastern Europe, we see that other US university and research libraries hold collections that are as strong as (or even stronger than) holdings in individual NRC libraries.This speaks to the collective strength and scope of the US research library system – but it also points to the need for systemwide coordination to ensure that this widely distributed resource is made discoverable and useful to students and researchers.
  • In addition, we find that large-scale digital aggregations like Google Books and the HathiTrust Digital Library now constitute discovery ‘hubs’ in their own right. This is relevant to the recommendation from Duke Global Resources symposium that additional effort be directed to improving digital access to global resources. The irony here is that visibility in digital aggregations does not guarantee availability to researchers, who must instead fall back on traditional print fulfillment options. And with an inventory that is widely diffused across the library system, this can be a costly affair.
  • So, we have seen that ‘institution-scale’ coverage for literature related to Crimea is relatively limited. What about other high priority regions? This map compares the maximum National Resource Center library coverage of literature related to 9 countries in South Asia. I’ve color coded each country according to the level of library coverage that is available. At the upper end, individual NRC libraries can provide coverage for 35% to 38% of content related to Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.NRC libraries can provide about 26% coverage of literature related to India and Sri Lanka.For the rest, NRC libraries can provide coverage for less than 20% of the related literature – and only about 16% for Afghanistan.
  • Now, as I’ve already noted, coverage of relevant literature is sometimes better outside of the NRC network. For example, if we consider four different approaches to identifying content relevant to Afghanistan – titles about the country, titles produced in the country, titles about the Pushto language and titles published in that language – we can see that there is fairly substantial coverage in non NRC institutions. The University of Nebraska is a center of excellence for studies of Afghanistan and its library collections reflect that strength. The Library of Congress also has very strong collections in this area, as does Harvard University.The designated NRC for South Asia have comparatively weaker coverage. I want to emphasize that this is not necessarily a problem – indeed, it may well reflect deliberate efforts at those institutions to collect different but complementary materials.
  • One of the critical challenges in managing global resources collections lies in the spiky distribution of content within and outside of the National Resource Center network, and in the digital environment.It is quite difficult to characterize the strengths and weaknesses of library infrastructure along the traditional lines of area studies. As this chart shows, the scope of library collections for different countries in South Asia varies enormously. So too does the available coverage of those titles in NRC and other libraries. There are notable ‘troughs’ in coverage of literature related to Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Iran and this should give us pause, because we know that the collective capacity of libraries is sufficient to provide 100% coverage. What it means, in practical terms, is that ‘filling the gap’ will require cooperation on a broad scale – involving institutions within and outside of NRC, as well as international partnerships.
  • To recap briefly:The global library system is diversifying and a growing share of international publications are now discoverable; however, the institutional and geographic distribution of these resources makes it all but impossible for any library to offer anything approaching ‘comprehensive’ coverage of the relevant literature.Compounding this problem, library managers have limited access to decision support tools that would enable cross-institutional coordination of acquisitions, cataloging and stewardship of global resources. Equally important, current incentive models continue to reward ‘institution-scale’ approaches to building and managing research collections.Finally, it is abundantly clear that while the visibility of global research resources in the networked digital environment is growing, it is growing very unevenly – so that even ‘high priority’ areas that are well represented in physical library collections are comparatively under-represented in digital formats.The good news is that these are tractable problems.
  • I would single out four areas for immediate attention.First, there must be a deliberate effort to increase coordination within and outside the NRC network – we have seen that it is impossible for any institution to provide adequate coverage of relevant global resources, especially in an environment where international relations and economic partnerships are no longer determined by geographic proximity or bounded by common languages.Second, it would be sensible to dedicate some attention and effort to implement discovery and delivery solutions that leverage the aggregate capacity at least of NRC-funded libraries. The requirements for these systems are likely to be different than those required for ‘generic’ library services.It is important to recognize, in the US especially, that universities and research organizations are in competition with one another for funding, influence and brand recognition. Without some new incentives to encourage and reward cross-institution collaboration, we cannot reasonably expect to see higher education institutions (or their libraries) adopt ‘cross institution’ solutions. It is up to funders and policy-makers to develop appropriate incentive mechanisms to enable broader coordination across the international education sector.Finally, it is critically important that we prioritize investments that will increase digital access to global resources, especially in those areas where traditional library fulfillment models can no longer meet the needs of students and researchers.
  • Global Resources - a system-wide perspective

    1. 1. Demand & Supply: The Critical Role of Research Libraries in International Education Constance Malpas Program Officer, OCLC Research 12 April 2014 Internationalization of US Education in the 21st Century #internationaled Global Resources: a system-wide view
    2. 2. Research libraries as shared infrastructure • Aggregate library resource represents vital infrastructure for foreign language and area studies scholarship • Current organization of research library ‘system’ is ill-adapted to support emerging requirements for international education • Institution-scale approaches to building global resource collections misaligned with realities of networked scholarship and international relations 2
    3. 3. Growth of Non-English Content in WorldCat 3 61% 39% Source: Glenn Patton, OCLC Jul2000 Jun2008 Jan2014 Apr2005 Jul2011 More titles, fewer holding libraries Fewer titles, more holding libraries
    4. 4. 4 Coverage of critical priority languages in the global library system has increased substantially since 2007 Yet, institution-scale coverage in US research libraries remains limited
    5. 5. 5 Title VI National Resource Centers A loosely integrated network within larger HE system 129 centers in ~50 universities
    6. 6. 6 Significant disparities in coverage among designated National Resource Centers 47% *As represented in March 2013
    7. 7. 7 Non-NRC coverage of global resources equals or exceeds coverage in Title VI Centers *As represented in March 2013 19%
    8. 8. 8 *As represented in March 2013 Large-scale digital aggregations increase discoverability of global resources …placing additional pressures on libraries for just-in-time fulfillment 12%
    9. 9. 9 <20% >35%>25% Maximum Title VI NRC Library Coverage of Content related to South Asian Geographies
    10. 10. Coverage is moderate, content highly diffused Content about Afghanistan U Nebraska, Omaha 34% Library of Congress 28% Harvard 19% UC Berkeley 16% UCLA 13% Content about Pashto Library of Congress 27% Harvard 24% U Nebraska, Omaha 20% UC Berkeley 19% U Chicago 18% Content from Afghanistan Library of Congress 38% Harvard 17% U Nebraska, Omaha 15% UC Berkeley 7% U Chicago 2% Content in Pashto Library of Congress 41% U Chicago 19% Harvard 15% UC Berkeley 12% U Pennsylvania 12% 10*Title VI National Resource Centers for South Asia
    11. 11. ‘Spiky’ Distribution of South Asian Resources 11 0 50,000 100,000 150,000 200,000 250,000 300,000 350,000 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Single Library Single NRC Library Hathi Google Total Related Works in WorldCat Fewer titles More titles
    12. 12. Challenges • Diffuse distribution of global resources across US research library system limits discoverability and access • Limited ‘network intelligence’ for distributed collection management • Incentive models (reputation, funding) favor institution-scale operations • Significant disparities in coverage and availability of global resources in digital formats 12
    13. 13. Areas for attention • Maximize library coordination capacity within and beyond NRC network • Address need for integrated discovery/delivery solutions that leverage distributed resource • Support and reward ‘above the institution’ acquisitions and stewardship models that improve resource coverage, reduce management costs • Prioritize investments to improve digital access to global resource collections in targeted areas. 13
    14. 14. ©2014 OCLC. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Suggested attribution: “This work uses content from [presentation title] © OCLC, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license:” Comments and questions are welcome. @ConstanceM 14