CRRA All-Members Meeting: A Travelogue

Just about this time last week I was attending the CRRA All-Members Meeting in Philadelphia (March 29-30, 2011). This posting documents the experience.

slideshowThe Meeting began Tuesday afternoon, March 29, at Villanova University where attendees were treated to a number of show & tell presentations describing the digital library goings-on of the Falvey Library. Joseph Lucia began by listing a number of well-articulated reasons why open source software is akin to the values of librarianship. Most notably, he alluded to the Second Enclosure and the very real threats to the public commons. Other presentations outlined local digitization efforts using Tesseract, their institutional repository implementation, scholarly publishing with Open Journal System, and their newly released digital library software called VUDL. I am continually impressed with the work being done by the folks at Villanova. Administration has a vision, a plan, and puts the plan into practice. “We do things for the sake of scholarship… We collaborate and find partners.” This approach to digital librarianship seems to me to be the best long-term strategy and ensures sustainability. It is not so much about getting more money but instead about setting priorities and allocating resources accordingly.

The main event took place the following day at St. Joseph’s University. Attended by thirty people or so, this particular All-Members Meeting was the largest to date. This is not surprising since the Catholic Research Resources Alliance (CRRA) now has about twenty members. We’re growing! The morning’s session focused on two issues. The first was automated procedures for getting member metadata (MARC and EAD) into the “Portal”. This is where I elaborated on the “recipe”. Attendees seemed to think the procesure was feasible. The second discussion surrounded digitization efforts. While no plan was articulated many people believe it is necessary to include more full-text content in the Portal. This can be done through local digitizations projects, coordination with Villanova’s established program, or through the harvesting of content from the ‘Net. Some of this discussion bled into the interpretation of the Portal’s collection policy. It seems to me as if the policy may not be as prescriptive as necessary. Many people seem confused by it and desire clarification regarding their content selections. After lunch most of us participated in a discussion regarding usability studies. This is where I outlined how we did usability here at Notre Dame and the expectations for institutional CRRA members.

In summary, the Alliance feels like it is moving ahead at a measured pace.

Finally, I relished the location of this particular meeting. Let me explain. United States Highway Route 1 starts in Key West (Florida), goes through every major city along the East Coast, and terminates at the Canadian border in Maine. United States Highway Route 30 starts at the Atlantic Ocean in New Jersey, crosses the country as the Lincoln Highway (for the most part), and ends in Oregon at the Pacific Ocean. These two cross-country highways intersect at the western-most edge of Philadelphia. The following movie was taken at this intersection — a true crossroads of America.

Some day I would love to start at the end of either one of these roads, slowly drive to the other end, and take photographs all along the way.

Author: Eric Lease Morgan

I am a librarian first and a computer user second. My professional goal is to discover new ways to use computers to provide better library services. I use much of my time here at the University of Notre Dame developing and providing technical support for the Catholic Research Resources Alliance -- the "Catholic Portal".