CLIR 2011 Sponsors’ Symposium Features the Medical Heritage Library

The world of higher education at large continues to grapple with the changing needs of researchers brought about by emerging technologies. Although many of the technological solutions for building a more robust research infrastructure are within our grasp, the human side of this equation is unresolved. That is, we are still learning the productive ways in which to work together across professional and institutional boundaries. This was a focus of discussion at the 2011 Council on Libraries and Information Resources Sponsors’ Symposium in Arlington, VA—Collaborative Opportunities Amidst Economic Pressures. Lively discussion of the economic, institutional, and social factors that can facilitate or impede collaborative solutions filled much of the day.

My presentation, Whose Goals are They? Navigating Diverse Institutional Cultures and Shared Responsibility for Creating Digital Resources in the History of Medicine, focused on the history of the MHL project and how a diverse group of partners can support digital scholarship in the medical humanities. This presentation was part of a panel that included two other examples of successful collaborations:

  • “The Making of Hydra: Common Solutions for Common Problems” by Martha Sites, Associate University Librarian for Production and Technology Services, University of Virginia
  • “TextGrid: A Virtual Research Environment for the Humanities” by Heike Neuroth, Scientific Coodinator of TextGrid and Director of Research and Development, University Library of Goettingen.

Together these projects highlight three approaches to finding shared solutions for disciplinary or local issues. In the final session of the day Chuck Henry, CLIR President, divided us into groups and asked the provocative question: What is it about our policies, organizations, traditions, or practices that impedes collaboration? The list of responses ranged from resource and staffing constraints to the perhaps more challenging habits of culture and communication.

PowerPoint slides from each of the presentations are available here. CLIR will also post a summary of the afternoon session on their website with a blog or wiki to encourage wider discussion. Visit often and join in the conversation.

Lori M. Jahnke
S. Gordon Castigliano CLIR Fellow
The College of Physicians of Philadelphia