ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award

Cornell University Library Application

Cornell University Library is honored by the nomination for the Excellence in Academic Libraries Award and is pleased to submit the following application and documentation in its support.

The University Environment

Mission: Cornell University is a research university that aims to serve society by educating responsible citizens and extending the frontiers of knowledge.

Cornell is an unusually complex institution with a twofold mission: an Ivy-League university dedicated to extending the frontiers of knowledge but also the land-grant institution for New York State, committed to the application of basic knowledge for the public good. A "young" university, chartered in 1868, Cornell still lives by the words of Ezra Cornell: "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study." It is distinctive among institutions of higher learning for its particular combination of programs for basic and applied research and education. The Middle States Association Commission on Higher Education (MSA/CHE) reaccreditation report from June 2001 characterizes it as "very much a 'full service' university, with virtually all the major areas of study and research represented on its rosters":

Cornell is a research university of highest rank. By any measure, it excels across a broad array of disciplines, and provides intellectual and academic leadership for the nation and the world. . . . Cornell continues to attract many of the best and the brightest faculty and graduate students to its campus, to support them well, and provide the resources they need to perform at world-class levels.

The Library within the University

The Cornell University Library (CUL) is thus entrusted with supporting academic excellence in not just a few disciplines, but across that "broad array." It ranks among the top ten academic research libraries in North America, and its outstanding knowledge base, always carefully built, is being constantly expanded. We will add the seven-millionth volume early in 2002. And in the digital age, performance of scholars and students at world-class levels needs support that consists of not only traditional resources, but a new universe of digital and multimedia formats, as well as the computer hardware, networking capabilities, Internet connectivity, and instruction in the navigational skills necessary to effectively use those resources.

The Cornell University Library thrives on innovation and has a tradition of excellent service. We take pride in the finding of the MSA/CHE evaluation team that CUL is "a leader and pacesetter among North American libraries, recognized for its large and rich collections, its knowledgeable and service-oriented staff, its rich array of user-based programs, and its digital library gateway, access structure, and rich content of knowledge and information resources." (MSA/CHE Final Report, p. 21)


Creativity and Innovation in Meeting the Needs of Our Academic Community
Determining the Needs of Our Community

Last spring CUL participated with over forty other North American libraries in a survey of service quality (LibQual+) coordinated by the Association of Research Libraries. LibQUAL+ is measuring library service quality across institutions and creating useful quality-assessment tools; it seeks to move beyond the input measures that have typically defined library rankings to a new understanding of user needs and satisfaction. In evaluations completed by students, faculty, and staff, CUL ranked higher than any other institution surveyed (attachments I and II).

In 1998 the Library ranked first among seniors in a Consortium on Financing Higher Education (COFHE) survey of satisfaction with thirty-eight University administrative services. In a survey of student satisfaction with services, facilities, and various aspects of college life at Cornell, conducted in 1999 by the University's Office of Institutional Research and Planning, the Library ranked both first, for resources, and second, for services (attachment III).

In the past year the Library has held a series of focus groups with undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and library staff to better understand changing user expectations and needs. In response to what we learned we are making adjustments to staffing, services, and physical space. In addition, the Library meets in consultation with the University Faculty Library Board, the Library Advisory Council of key alumni and friends, and the newly established Student Advisory Council. We are shaping the library with input from a variety of people and are committed to developing information services in partnership with our users.

Improving Access for Our Users

Issue. Library users want ease of access to Library resources, especially those in full text. The Library Gateway has been a popular entrance to the library's diverse and ever-expanding online resources. As e-resources grew rapidly, the Gateway as configured proved cumbersome, providing voluminous results to searches. To avoid further congestion, e-books were not listed in Gateway resources. The Library needed to reengineer its interface to ensure that search results were effective and reflected all Library materials, not just a subset.

Action. To improve Gateway functionality, the Library conducted focus groups with faculty, students, and library staff to hear their desires and suggestions. Results of the study were used to make adjustments to the Gateway, which included a clear restructuring of the pathways to the over 4,600 electronic resources the Gateway offers. Users now find all electronic resources through the catalog, and the Gateway now guides searchers to a convenient electronic reference shelf of several hundred indexing and abstracting services, online encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other databases.

Outcome. Because of the increased ease of access through an improved and unified screen display, Library Gateway hits increased from 22 million in 1998/99 to 41 million in 1999/2000 (attachment IV). At the same time, searches in the online catalog exceeded 3 million for 1999/2000.

Issue. The speed and power of the Internet have irrevocably altered the way researchers, teachers, and learners exchange information and document knowledge. It has also increased their expectations of the ease and speed of access to information.

Action. Over three years (1997/98 to 2000/01) we increased the number of networked electronic resources available to our users by 750%, with over 10,000 links to commercial and nonprofit scholarly items now available, including full-text and image databases.

Outcome. Scholars and students are now able to do an increasing amount of their research and class work using online resources provided by or through the Library, enabling them to save transit time and conduct productive work from sites as diverse as India and Europe. Cornell's Washington office, for example, can now research legislative issues online. A graduate student whose wife took a job overseas wrote that he was able to continue his dissertation research because of our Cornell-digitized Making of America journals collection.

Issue. Library users repeatedly have requested, in focus groups, surveys, and individual interviews, increased access to the Internet, full-text information, and other Library resources. Cornell Information Technologies (CIT) proposed a subscription model for wireless access, which would have limited flexible use of library resources to a small subset of the University affluent enough to pay the substantial fees.

Action. The Library successfully lobbied against the fee-for-service model as an impairment of open access to valuable information resources. This model would have reduced the Library's options of increasing connectivity to the much more expensive approach of wired workstations at the same time it would have restricted user access and mobility outside the libraries. The Library successfully solicited a donor's support in the amount of $350,000 and supplemented this gift with its own funds to implement wireless access throughout the Library. Red Rover, a new CIT service allowing wireless Internet access, started off the fall semester in all of CUL's seventeen campus libraries. Thirty-five wireless workstations and a laptop loaner program now enhance access in the libraries.

Outcome. Patrons enjoy a connectivity that is less restrictive and better suited to the needs of today's mobile faculty, students, and staff. They can move throughout the coverage area without degradation of performance or loss of service. Those using networked information in combination with traditional printed publications are able to do so in the same place—;in the stacks, for instance—;rather than being compelled to use such information separately in different locations. Wireless laptops also allow students to use computers in the libraries in ways that have not previously been possible, such as for preparation and delivery of class presentations. They also greatly increase opportunities for students to collaborate on group papers or projects, for any existing study table can be used for a gathering around a laptop, eliminating the need to find an available stationary machine. At the same time, the more-efficient use of library space means an improvement in the overall operation of the library. Since students can use their own hardware and software, the Library conserves its resources for other services.

Providing Instruction and Reference

Issue. The complex information landscape can be confusing for users to navigate. The simultaneous explosion of resources and their availability in multiple formats complicates the process of connecting readers with research materials. Increasingly librarians need to integrate teaching about academic resources into the course experience or to instruct students and faculty in the use of tools to manipulate information. There is a need to extend library service from the more-passive, one-to-one reference experience, waiting for the user to come with a question, to anticipating the demands and reaching many users simultaneously.


  1. During the 2000/01 academic year Cornell librarians offered 1,200 instructional workshops and classes on using and locating information through the Library, with registrations totaling more than 17,500, reaching the equivalent of 90% of our student body.
  2. The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections instituted a special program of tours of its collections and classroom presentations by rare book librarians and archivists. Staff members in special collections made 129 class presentations in one year, reaching 2,402 students. They also gave 119 tours of the collections.


  1. The Library's leadership in teaching modern information literacy increases students' ability to use information technologies and digital content effectively, and more importantly, enables them to discern intelligently which information deserves use, a capability as critical as ever in shaping the educated citizen of tomorrow.
  2. In the rare books and special collections instruction students learned the techniques of conducting research using rare, fragile, and documentary and archival materials. On the tours students became acquainted with the measures needed to preserve and maintain rare and precious scholarly materials. Rare books staff tailored their classroom presentations to an astonishing range of subjects. They participated in classes such as "Neotropics and the History of Exploration," "The Literature of Chivalry," "Introduction to the American Indian," "Monstrous Bodies (French literature)," "Biology of Fishes," and "Hildegard to Handel: The Music of Western Europe," to name just a few.

Issue. As users increasingly work with online services remotely (from wireless laptops or from their residences via the Library Gateway), they also need convenient online reference assistance.

Action. In addition to the already-existing e-mail reference service, CUL has instituted a "chat reference" service.

Outcome. Users, both at and beyond Cornell, can now ask questions of reference librarians online in real time. This service began in the main library and is now being extended to all campus libraries.

Empowering Our Patrons

Issue. Patrons expect the library to provide accurate, up-to-date information, access to online services, time-saving conveniences, and support when needed. In general, though, the new generation of users values self-service options and independence where possible.

Actions. CUL has made continued efforts to assist users in assisting themselves (empowerment), by introducing user-initiated services and conveniences.


  1. It is now possible for users to initiate online their own recalls, renewals, requests for delivery of materials from the off-site storage facility, and requests for materials purchase.
  2. Users can now receive materials online that have been stored in an off-site facility, saving them from coming (back) to a library to obtain the requested item. Library staff scan journal articles or tables of contents from books and make them available on a Library Web server for two weeks in pdf format. Pilots are under way to replicate this service at all campus libraries, a productivity booster on a large campus with much interdisciplinary work occurring in geographically dispersed areas.
  3. Users can submit interlibrary loan requests online, saving the time of making a personal visit. They can also track their requests online and observe the progress in filling them. The ILLiad system streamlines the process by generating copyright clearance automatically, a process that previously had to be done manually.
  4. All campus libraries now offer electronic reserve, with reserve reading material locatable through the online catalog. Searching by instructor, course, author, or title, students can access e-reserve material whenever they want from wherever an Internet connection is available, without waiting to check out copies in the libraries or queuing up at the photocopier. Also, there is no waiting for a work to be returned before another user can borrow it.
  5. Enhanced returns, or the ability to return a borrowed book to any campus library, no matter which library owns it, has won rave reviews as a time saver for faculty and students. As cross-disciplinary studies increase, more users today need materials from several libraries on campus, and they appreciate the convenience of being able to drop an armload in one place, particularly when the libraries of origin are distributed across campus or in bad weather.

Creating a User-friendly Evironment

Issue. Today's students and researchers are more than ever involved in collaborative projects and interdisciplinary work. They also desire a combination of the latest technology and modern conveniences. Three of Cornell's busiest libraries, however, were regrettably outmoded in appearance and functionality.

Action. CUL conducted a complete reassessment of patrons' needs and undertook a renovation to create comfortable and aesthetically pleasing spaces for browsing, reading, and group and individual study.


  1. A major addition to the agricultural and lifes sciences library created wireless connectivity, carpeted stacks for quiet study, air-conditioning for the comfort of patrons and preservation of books, individual and group study rooms, and grand views from the fourth floor for quiet contemplation and inspiration.
  2. The Library has upgraded selected spaces in Cornell's undergraduate library over the past three years, first installing the CreationStations, high-end multimedia workstations that have changed the way faculty using them teach and have increased faculty/library/student collaboration. In 2001, recognizing the demand for collaborative space, the Library was renovated to install movable furnishings, infuse technology, and design work areas to accommodate groups of two to six students.
  3. The central library now sports a new cybercafé; with seating for 70 patrons, wireless access to the Internet, and plug-in computer ports. A major renovation project for the first floor of that library, scheduled to be completed before the semester begins in January 2002, will replace the card catalog with reading tables and 26 additional computers. Opposite this area, views to the Arts Quad will be opened up by lowering the height of reference bookshelves, and comfortable chairs will expand the relaxed ambience of the café; in a wireless environment. As a result, students are flocking to the libraries, and formerly deserted, sterile areas now teem with excitement and intellectual and social discourse.

Leadership in Developing and Implementing Exemplary Programs that Other Libraries Can Emulate

Taking Advantage of the Digital Age

Issue. Although CUL has been a leader in digital library research and implementation for over a decade, we wanted to harness the power of more-advanced innovative electronic resources through a coordinated plan for knowledge discovery and archiving.

Action. In 2000, library managers and staff produced a blueprint for digital initiatives entitled "Cornell University Library Digital Futures Plan, June 2000 to June 2002." It was our formal statement of the development of our vision and a serious action plan for the future. Although the Library was not new to digital initiatives, the plan was essential to allow us to communicate our vision to others and to examine the scope of our activity in a cohesive framework. Below is just a selection of the innovative projects, research, and services that we have initiated, either alone or in collaboration with other units of Cornell or other universities.

Outcomes. The Cornell University Library is an international model for the development of the digital library of the twenty-first century. Many of its digital collections are compilations of rare or fragile materials that would otherwise not be readily accessible to students, scholars, or the public. Digital collections enable students to take field trips that defy both time and space and traverse disciplines and cultures—;without ever leaving the classroom. They are important tools for both teaching and research because images can be accessed and used in multiple ways. Responses from students indicate that they enjoy working with digital collections, and they feel it enriches their education. Digital technology is transforming the way we gain and use information.

  1. The Digital Math Books Collection, which includes the complete texts of 577 pre-1914 monographs forms the basis for an expanded project. Currently Cornell has joined with the University of Michigan and the State and University Library of Göttingen, Germany, to digitize their rare mathematics monographs and create an interoperable system that allows users to access them all with ease.
  2. The Making of America project is a multi-institutional initiative to create and make accessible over the Internet a distributed digital library of important materials on the history of the United States. It represents a major collaborative endeavor in preservation and electronic access to historical texts (the University of Michigan joined Cornell in the first phase of development), which has been tremendously well received by the public.

    Last year CUL developed a new and much more powerful Web interface. As a result the use of this popular collection doubled. In one month alone, users requested more than 700,000 page views of the material. It now provides more than 900,000 pages of primary sources in American cultural and social history—;used by K-12 schoolchildren, as well as by seasoned scholars.
  3. TEEAL, The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library, is a library on CD-ROMs containing the full text of more than 130 core agricultural journals that is available to the developing world, with annual updates. Designed to support agricultural research in regions where there is an urgent need for increased food production, it has been made available to 108 of the lowest-income food-deficit countries.
  4. Freely accessible globally, the CUGIR site (Cornell University Geospatial Information Resources) provides datasets that can be used to map and evaluate NYS information on crops, wetlands, hazardous-waste sites, etc. Available to students, community planners, and interested citizens, this active online repository delivers valuable information to students, researchers, planners, wildlife biologists, and agronomists.
  5. The USDA Economics and Statistics System has subscribers throughout the world. With the redesign of the interface and system architecture, use of the system has continued to increase to more than 7,000 users each day. In recognition of this unique partnership between the Library and the economic agencies of the USDA, the Library and the agencies were presented with the Secretary's Honor Award by the Secretary of Agriculture, Dan Glickman.
  6. The library of the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) has for many years received requests for information on the tragic historic event known as the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire from high school students across the country. Now they are able to view photographs, contemporary cartoons, and eyewitness accounts of the tragedy, including audio excerpts from oral histories provided by the survivors, by visiting an electronic exhibit designed by the School, at .
  7. The Library initiated several new information services this past year that extend to the New York State community. For example, the ILR Library introduced WIT by E-mail, the Workplace Issues Today service, which provides a comprehensive news center where faculty, students, and the interested public can go for late-breaking news on workplace issues. Another new service is an agreement between Cornell and the New York City Office of Collective Bargaining Decisions, which has jurisdiction for resolving disputes involving many of the public-sector unions in the city. Because of the Library's expertise, the Office asked the ILR Library to put these decisions on the Web as a public service to the citizens of the city and state.
  8. One of the most-effective means of community outreach throughout New York State is its Extension Service. The Library works closely with Extension educators to support the educational and information needs of the Extension community. With the installation of a proxy server by Cornell Information Technologies, all of the information resources on the Cornell campus are now available to Extension educators throughout the state.
  9. The Cornell Institute for Digital Collections (CIDC), a cross-disciplinary team in the Library established to explore the use of emerging technologies for providing greater access to cultural and scientific collections, partnered with the Johnson Museum of Art in the Museum Online project, a complex undertaking to capture 15,000 high-quality digital images of works of art and to make them accessible for teaching and research. Students, faculty, visitors, and users on the Internet can electronically explore and research the collection from home, office, or one of the workstations in the museum. The project has served as a model for other organizations engaged in digitization of visual images, and CIDC staff have conducted numerous workshops and panel discussions on their experiences. Since it is predicted that in the future museums and libraries may increasingly integrate their collections, this project was a major step in testing the technology for digital imaging of three-dimensional objects.
  10. The Fantastic in Art and Fiction relies on graphic material from the Cornell collections on the witchcraft trials in Europe to provide an unusual and rarely seen counterpoint to a comparative literature course analyzing German, Anglo-American, French, and Latin-American works from the late eighteenth century to the present. The project is a model for new and unusual ways of incorporating digitized resources into teaching.

Transforming Scholarly Communication

Issue. Academic libraries are hard pressed to maintain the quality of their collections by the skyrocketing prices of commercially published journals, particularly in the sciences. The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and other professional organizations have encouraged libraries to take action by informing their faculties of the issues and seeking publishing alternatives.

Action. Project Euclid is CUL's principal electronic publishing initiative, in cooperation with Duke University Press, whose mission is to advance affordable scholarly communication in the field of mathematics and statistics. With start-up funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Project Euclid seeks to reduce costs to both publishers and libraries and to increase the dissemination of scholarly material.

Outcome: Project Euclid has so far facilitated the transition of 8 independent journals from print-only to electronic format and will offer at least 17 journals to subscribers at a reasonable cost in 2003. The project has been designated a Partner by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), a program of the Association of Research Libraries that aims to transform the process of scholarly communication.

Issue. The Library has recently become the new site of the arXiv, the physics pre-print server that was developed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Action. In September 2001 the Library began supporting the e-print submission and access database.

Outcome. The arXiv will become part of a family of scholarly publishing activities and will serve as a major force in the dissemination of scholarly ideas and research. Operating the arXiv provides a live application on which the Faculty of Computing and Information Science and the Library will collaborate to test research concepts and develop a new model for future scientific communications.

Expanding the Capabilities of Our Staff

Issue. As many academic research libraries experience the need to acquire outside funding from donors and through grants to supplement the budgeted support from their own institutions, librarians require the experience of fund-raising to help in that effort.

Action. The Library has instituted an Internal Grants competition that funds several successful proposals submitted by CUL staff. Proposals, individual or collaborative, are usually funded for $3,000 to $5,000 but may receive up to $25,000

Outcome. The program encourages innovation and collaboration, stimulates new services, and supports grass-roots ideas that might not otherwise be funded. Funded successful proposals have included the user study of the Library Gateway and providing University-wide access to GIS data.

Substantial and Productive Relationships with Classroom Faculty and Students

Communicating with Faculty

CUL nurtures relationships with college and school deans and faculty to ensure that the objectives of the Library support University programs.

Last year senior Library managers conducted a series of interviews with the deans of Cornell's seven colleges and other senior administrators. The sessions focused on the changes they anticipate in teaching and research in the next five years and on the strategic directions of their units. The University Librarian presented the analysis of strategic initiatives to the President's Council, and the resulting compilation was a key document to orient new vice provosts and administrators. Library staff maintain close relationships with faculty, attending department meetings and holding individual meetings to ensure that collections are coordinated with academic priorities and that faculty are familiar with library services. Also last year, CUL conducted a series of focus groups to learn about faculty perceptions of library service.

Integrating the Library into the Classroom

Issue. CUL not only gives instruction in bibliographical techniques for specific fields, it strives to integrate the library into the classroom.


  1. A librarian at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations teamed with a professor in teaching "HR Online Research and Reporting Methods," in an award-winning team approach.
  2. The librarian at ILR who served as the Extension liaison taught "Information and Data for Labor Policy Analysis" with another ILR professor.
  3. A historian specializing in women's studies partnered with the staff in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections to create a course in the Department of Human Development, "Archival Research: Exploring the History of Home Economics."
  4. A professor of American history and culture collaborated with the archival staff in introducing her class to the process of creating personal memoires and memorabilia.


  1. Students had an opportunity to field real-time inquiries from major corporations regarding corporate HR practices and evaluate tools needed to work effectively at the corporate management level.
  2. Students developed research skills relating to issues faced by the trade union movement today.
  3. Students developed an in-depth knowledge of a special collection of library materials in the University Archives, gained insight into the complexities of gathering and maintaining these materials, and communicated this knowledge to the campus in the form of a library exhibit and a Web site, which will be a valuable resource to students of women's history nationwide. Course evaluations were exceptionally high, with students expressing a sense of mastery and discovery of new career opportunities.
  4. Students examined personal artifacts and journals in the archival collection and then created their own scrapbooks to experience how to document their own lives.

Issue. A major role of the Cornell Institute for Digital Collections is to work with the faculty to bring digital library materials into the classroom and the curriculum.

Action. CIDC staff designed and now maintain the African Artists database for a professor of African art at the Africana Studies and Research Center.

Outcome. The work is expanding the Library's database with images of works by more than 800 contemporary African artists.

Collaborating with Faculty

Issue. The University created a major new academic division last year, the Faculty of Computing and Information Science.

Action. CUL was active in shaping the Computing and Information Science (CIS) program through the work of the University Librarian on the CIS Task Force. The University Library is a member of CIS's guiding directorate, and Library staff members are guest lecturing in digital library courses. The Library is also collaborating with CIS on a project funded by the National Science Foundation to create a National Digital Science Library. Two senior library staff members joined project staff for the first year.

Outcome. Theory and practice are reciprocally related as information scientists, computer scientists, and librarians collaborate to shape new information services and to educate the next generation of researchers and information entrepreneurs.

Issue. As faculty adopt information technologies to enhance research and teaching, library resources and services must be integrated into the new realm of distributed learning.

Action. The Library created the Office of Distributed Learning this year to provide system-wide coordination for the Library's services in a seamless support system.

Outcome. Faculty and staff engaged in distributed learning throughout the campus are now receiving support for their planning and projects from the Library. The key stakeholders on campus in distributed learning are now much better able to coordinate their work with each other as a result of the leadership being provided by this Library service. This includes developing digital library resources for specific courses, as well as putting new technical support systems in place to aid distance learners in accessing these materials. The Library's community of users will expand significantly as a result of this program.

Leadership and Creativity in Strengthening the Role and Resources of Academic Research Libraries Nationally and Internationally

Reaching Out to Our Colleagues

The Cornell University Library actively collaborates and cooperates in consortiums with other libraries and through significant grant-funded research and development projects. In addition, CUL has established an international presence, particularly in developing countries where it collects extensively in area studies.

The Library has never viewed its extensive research as an end in itself, but rather has seen the dissemination of its work and experience as one of its most essential responsibilities and contributions to the broader research library community.

Transferring the Technology of Preservation

Issue. CUL has an internationally acclaimed preservation program that has pioneered development of specialized electronic scanning and digitization techniques.

Action. The Library has converted the results of its research into resources for other libraries that are accessible, practical, and authoritative. Its knowledge has been communicated through a range of workshops over the past six years that have attracted a wide-spread audience. Librarians in the Department of Preservation and Conservation have also published two monographs, four online publications, and an online tutorial.


  1. In total, over 700 individuals have received training in digital imaging, managing digital projects, and custom-tailored workshops created to meet specific needs for practitioners in South Africa (a consortium of research institutions planning to digitize anti-apartheid literature), the Nordic countries (a cooperative project to digitize newspapers), Sweden (an archives film-scanning project of parish records), Australia (a multi-institutional project to digitize key nineteenth-century Australian imprints), South America (focusing on digitizing maps and manuscripts in Brazil, Venezuela, and Argentina), and recently for U.S. federal librarians (creating and managing digital-image assets). Particularly rewarding has been the result that those attending Cornell training have themselves been charged with developing and presenting their own digital training programs—;second-generation educators have appeared.
  2. The Digital Library Initiative 2 (DLI2) has funded Project PRISM, a three-to-four-year collaborative effort between CUL and Cornell's Department of Computer Science to investigate and develop policies and mechanisms needed for information integrity in a digital library. It is a pioneering, $2.3 million preservation project to develop a standard way of organizing computerized collections, preventing data loss in those collections by alerting managers to the periodic need to upgrade aging CD-ROMs and tapes, and making the collections fully accessible on the Internet. It incorporates sophisticated knowledge of computer science, an advanced understanding of standards undergirding dependable access to information, and teamwork across units. CUL's extensive digital collections serve as a testbed for research in an ideal bridging of the theoretical and the applied. The chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities has stated, "All Americans will benefit because the project will ensure that computerized materials important for the study of America will be preserved and accessible for generations to come."
  3. The Department of Preservation and Conservation has been nominated for the LITA/Library Hi Tech Award for this year, and its staff and publications have received many awards and honors.

Issue. The Department of Preservation and Conservation also does skilled work in the restoration of rare books, fragile manuscripts, and photographs.

Action. Cornell has participated in preservation projects and given workshops in numerous countries: Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, and Iceland. In the physical conservation of fragile materials Cornell librarians have engaged in training and educating key staff in libraries and archives how to care for their collections in a regionally appropriate manner that takes into account both local conditions and economic capacity. This "technology transfer" of preservation techniques is particularly important in developing countries so that their libraries may preserve priceless legacies of their culture that would otherwise disintegrate from lack of attention.


  1. Scholars are more likely to have resources available to them because of improved preservation activities. The record of our global heritage will contribute to a greater understanding and the ability to learn from the past.
  2. Ongoing relationships are established that bring books and periodicals to Cornell that are difficult to obtain from afar and that strengthen its area studies collections for Cornell scholars and others who have access to the collection through ILL or direct use.
  3. Personal contacts secure opportunities for visiting faculty and graduate students. Faculty have direct stack access in foreign countries to unique resources because of CUL's contributions to local efforts, and Cornell students have been "placed" with sponsors in Da Nang and Hanoi, Vietnam, and in Cambodia.
  4. Cornell's outreach and service efforts in Indonesia have elicited a "good-will" response from Indonesian librarians that has also benefited the collection efforts of the Library of Congress, which has sent letters of appreciation to Cornell. (attachment V).

Leading and Collaborating on Digital Projects

Issue. Users are seeking simple, one-stop shopping in the location of primary and secondary materials. Digital resources offer the promise of facile access, but to be truly useful, they need to be linked together through interoperable digital libraries.

Action: Cornell and 11 other institutions created the Digital Library Federation (DLF) to share expertise and research and to propose best practices for institutions that lack the infrastructure to maintain a digital library on a large scale. Cornell participates actively in DLF working groups and pilots, and the University Librarian has served twice as the chair of the DLF Steering Committee. She chaired the DLF Review Panel, which has recommended the continuation of this organization for 5 additional years.

Outcome: Through its DLF engagement Cornell actively shapes the digital library research agenda and influences digital library development nationally and internationally. Cornell Library staff publish papers and reports, make presentations, and welcome a host of national and international visitors seeking to learn about its progress in the areas of metadata, digital imaging, digital archiving, and other aspects of the digital library. Such activities disseminate findings and best practices and foster innovation, adoption of standards, and collaboration.

Issue. The Library of Congress is leading the Collaborative Digital Reference Service (CDRS), a project in which currently only 85 libraries around the world are providing high-level, direct, librarian-to-librarian service to their patrons.

Action. CUL is one fo the few academic research libraries that participated in the planning for CDRS. It is important for CUL to be involved, not only to reap the advantages of cooperative reference online, but also to represent the needs and values of academic research libraries in this project, which includes academic, public, and national libraries in Australia, Hong Kong, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the U.S.

Outcome. Cornell reference librarians are extending their services to researchers worldwide and receiving the same benefits from other library participants. CDRS enables librarians to take advantage of up-to-the-second information on the Internet and the vast riches of other libraries' print collections (most of which are not online) to provide the best possible answer to a researcher's inquiry.

Issue. Access to commercial electronic resources is limited by the high price of many items.

Action. CUL participates with other universities and colleges in the North East Regional Library (NERL) Consortium to evaluate and negotiate subscriptions to electronic resources.

Outcome. Through its participation the Library has saved at least $75,000 annually to allocate toward other resources and enjoys the benefit of the collective experience of collection development experts from multiple institutions.

Sharing Our Knowledge and Experience

Issue. Librarians at major research institutions need to contribute to the profession and share their knowledge and experience with colleagues at other libraries and in the larger academic and cultural environment.

Action. CUL librarians are encouraged to publish and make presentations at home and abroad. The Library shares the work of its colleagues on campus through a Professional Development Week in which staff papers delivered at conferences are repeated in a series of presentations. Cornell staff are enthusiastic members of committees and working groups. Three Cornell librarians have been elected president of the Society of American Archivists, an achievement rivaled only by the National Archives. Cornell librarians serve on the ALA Council, on the Board of the Association of Research Libraries, on the Center for Research Libraries collection development advisory group, and in dozens of regional, national, and international organizations. Cornell staff edit RLG DigiNews and have edited numerous other professional journals, including D-Lib magazine. They are instructors in digital-imaging and archiving workshops. In the past year they have been speakers on the ALCTS President's Program, at the LC Bicentenniel conferences, at OCLC User's Council, at the DLF Forum, at the Coalition for Networked Information, and at dozens of other meetings, reaching tens of thousands of librarians, archivists, and information scientists around the world.

Outcome. The July 1999 issue of College and Research Libraries listed the "Most Productive Libraries 1993-1997," based on the number of peer-reviewed articles in the professional library literature. CUL was ranked second, with a total of 32 publications with lead authors from Cornell. The library profession and others engaged in digital library research benefit from the research and expertise contributed by the Cornell staff.

Achievements This Year in Direct Support of Stated University Priorities

(from the annual program report of the Cornell University Librarian to the Provost. All deans were asked to describe their efforts relating to the University priorities listed below.)

1. Improve undergraduate education, taking full advantage of the strengths of a research university.

During the past year the Library has expanded further the services and opportunities offered to undergraduates throughout the University.

Access. In addition to adding significantly to the print collections, the Library has continued its effort to increase substantially access to online materials. We know that undergraduates are especially comfortable with online resources, and the availability of such materials provides them with opportunities to use library materials anytime, anywhere. Because Cornell is a research institution, undergraduates have access to a greater depth and breadth of such electronic resources than they would have at institutions that are strictly for undergraduates. Not only have we added large (and expensive) bibliographic databases, but we have connected these databases when possible to the full-text journal articles. We have added new databases that now provide access to specialized newspapers, international materials, and a range of government documents. During this past year the Library also began to acquire access to e-books, so that students will increasingly be able to read books, as well as journal articles and other documents, online.

Facilities. The Library has during the past year significantly increased the computer facilities available to undergraduates. Both Uris and Mann libraries began providing full electronic reserve services in the spring semester. (In Uris Library, this involved scanning over 14,000 pages of reserve materials.) In addition to the large computer labs in both Uris and Mann libraries, the new Music Library now has a computer lab with 13 state-of-the-art workstations. It also now provides Web-based, streamed-sound reserve listening. In the Engineering Library the Academic Computing Center operated by the Library not only provides access to computers and special software needed for Engineering, but also lends laptops and digital cameras and provides access to both slide and flatbed scanners. In Uris Library the CreationStation Lab is now fully operational. This facility, which was designed specifically for undergraduates, provides students with high-end workstations that can be used for a range of research and instructional purposes.

Uris Library and the Engineering Library are now kept open during the semester until 2:00 a.m., Sunday through Thursday. We have received highly positive feedback from undergraduates for extending the hours of these two key libraries. Over 35,000 students used Uris Library between midnight and 2:00 a.m., with the highest one-night count, 550, coming during spring semester's final exams.

Instruction. The Library continues to provide hundreds of classes and workshops to undergraduates each year. Some of this is general instruction, emphasizing techniques of searching for traditional and electronic information, but most of this instruction is customized to meet the needs of individual courses. Olin Library alone provided approximately 250 such classes and workshops during the past year. Instruction in Mann Library during the past year increased by 20%. Librarians have also co-taught undergraduate courses, an example of which was a course project in Civil and Environmental Engineering. The students had the assignment of studying the problems of shelf reading and book shifting in the Engineering Library as mathematical and optimization projects; after being graded by the professor, the students' papers were submitted to the Library for use in upcoming shelf-reading and shifting projects.

2. Invigorate a few key research areas and increase cross-college collaboration.

The Library is a multi-unit operation that works in a well-integrated fashion to provide access to interdisciplinary resources and to offer services that bridge boundaries. Our goal is to provide seamless information access regardless of unit or discipline. We have worked to support the development of the Faculty of Computing and Information Science, and we have a strong professional interest in the advancement of research and knowledge in the area of information science. CUL staff are principal investigators and participants in two NSF digital library projects shared with the Department of Computer Science.

The Library also collects actively in genomics and advanced materials science. Staff from Mann Library are part of a biotechnology planning team with faculty and are contributing significantly to the concept of management of databases of genetic information.

3. Foreground and enhance developments in the humanities and social sciences.

Cornell University Library has developed a number of services that support the humanities and social sciences. The following list is a sample of some of the most far-reaching.

Instruction: Enhancing undergraduate education and pioneering new cooperative endeavors between librarians and faculty, Stuart Basefsky (Catherwood Library) introduced an innovative co-teaching endeavor with ILR faculty: "Online HR Research and Reporting Methods."

The number of classes and workshops for faculty and students, taught by librarians, continued to expand in 2000/2001. Staff in Olin and Uris libraries alone taught more than 250 classes, primarily in the humanities and social sciences. They also created 90 "webliographies" (i.e., resource Web sites), primarily for classes in the humanities and social sciences. Curators in our Asia Collections again taught (at no cost to the Department of Asian Studies) annual, full-semester, credit courses on bibliographic tools and research techniques to graduate and upper-level undergraduate students in their respective areas of expertise.

Building community: The Libe Café;, opened last semester in Olin Library, has been enormously popular and has provided a major stimulus to community building among Olin's primary clientele: the central humanities and social science disciplines. As a comfortable, attractive place for faculty and students to gather and interact within the academic "envelope," it provides an important contribution to the University's "living and learning" initiative. Events that the Library has sponsored in the café; include readings and discussions with prestigious A.D. White Professors-at-Large and cultural celebrities such as Toni Morrison, the 1993 Nobel laureate in literature for Beloved; John Cleese, a British writer and actor; Oliver Sacks, a clinical professor of neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the author of Awakenings; and Jared Diamond, a professor of physiology at UCLA School of Medicine, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 for his thought-provoking Guns, Germs and Steel.

4. Increase information technological capabilities for faculty, students, and staff.

The joint development with Cornell Information Technologies of a proxy server allows members of the Cornell community to use Library electronic sources wherever they are in the world.

In response to focus groups we developed MyLibrary, supporting for individual faculty, students, and staff a personalized Web-space where they can maintain links to electronic sources from the Library or anywhere else. In mid-year we added MyUpdates, a current-awareness service that notifies individuals of new print or electronic works fitting their personal profile that have been cataloged within the last two weeks.

The CreationStations, a collaborative project with Professor Gay's Human-Computer Interface Group, have been a great success. They provide an up-to-date suite of desktop and portable computing equipment, sophisticated design and multimedia composition software, and communication and collaboration tools, including digital cameras, digital video cameras, scanners, quickcams, hardware to enable the conversion of analog video to digital video, and software for creating multimedia presentations.

Establishing a model for making high-end workstations available for faculty/student use inspires significant new teaching approaches to the classroom, and students can achieve a new level of creative endeavor. Five classes now incorporate use of the stations in their assignments, and there has been a dramatic increase in use by students not enrolled in those classes. In the last two years the CreationStations were used more than 1,000 times.

The design and publication of C-Theory Multimedia, a conceptually unique journal of digital art, co-edited by Professor Tim Murray, is another prime example of the kind of creative development being realized at Cornell through faculty/library partnerships. The Library is providing staff and systems necessary to publish and maintain networked availability of the multimedia site.

New tools and expertise available through the Library are enabling a new kind of faculty scholarship and communication. The Global Performing Arts Consortium, an international collaboration cooperatively directed by Professor Karen Brazell and the Library's Curator of Theater Arts, is exemplary. It is creating an authoritative, multilingual database of images, sound, and video of the performing arts with contributions from members as far away as St. Petersburg and Singapore. Collaborations like these between faculty members and librarians can result in the creation of digital scholarly tools that offer exciting new ways of studying the arts and humanities.

5. Build greater diversity among faculty, staff, and students.

The Library has used an unrestricted endowment to fund the hiring of two postgraduate Minority Fellows for a two-year program. The Minority Fellowship Program is designed to increase the diversity of academic librarians at Cornell and to encourage the growth and development of underrepresented minorities in academic research libraries. The program offers recent library school graduates the opportunity to learn about academic libraries, to work in at least two functional areas, to explore new information technologies, and to participate in a challenging work environment. The first Minority Fellow joined the staff in September 2000, and the second began work in August 2001.


Scholars and students alike praise the Cornell University Library for its significant contribution to the intellectual and social life of the university. Increasingly, as the Library's digital initiatives mature and move from project to program, the reach of the Cornell Library extends far beyond the physical confines of the Ithaca campus and its traditional services. A high school junior exploring primary resources on the Internet, a graduate student from another university searching our nineteenth-century journals, a pet owner in Chicago discovering expertise at our Vet Library, an insurance company in Detroit seeking permission to use a digital image of Daniel Boone on a 500th-anniversary-of-Detroit poster; an Icelandic scholar in Denmark browsing SagaNet; an artist in Ghana drawing inspiration from the Library's database of African artists, a physicist in India submitting an e-print to the arXiv—;all these and thousands more join our community of users. Cornell is working collaboratively with many others to build a cutting-edge interoperable digital library that incorporates traditional values. Together, we are creating a network of services that can effectively and efficiently provide enduring access to the world's past and future knowledge.