Expanding Horizons for Digital Libraries: News from OCA and DICE

The First Executive Director of the Open Content Alliance has been appointed and CIDE (Data Intensive Cyber Environments group) has joined the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science. These are two recent news releases that show the expanding happenings and possibilities for digital libraries, collections, and collaboration!

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Maura Marx Named First Executive Director of the Open Content Alliance

The Internet Archive and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced today the appointment of Maura Marx as the first Executive Director of the Open Content Alliance (OCA). A search committee representing OCA member institutions made the appointment after an intensive search process. Ms. Marx will move to the OCA from the Boston Public Library, where she most recently founded the Digital Library Program and was instrumental in evolving the Library’s philosophy toward Open Content principles.

The Open Content Alliance is an international alliance of leading academic and cultural heritage institutions working to build joint digital collections for free public access.  Ms. Marx has been appointed to the new position of Executive Director in order to expand its activities as the preeminent center in the world for promoting the creation and open sharing of digital content.

“Maura’s background in working both inside and outside the library system will help her communicate with a broad public audience the shape of the new public library services in this digital age.” said Brewster Kahle, Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive.  “Her dynamic style, deep-seated commitment to open principles, and demonstrated success at implementing partnerships and initiatives in the digital space will be a powerful combination in taking the OCA to the next level.”

“We are delighted that Maura will take on this leadership role at such an important juncture for the organization.  The Open Content Alliance represents the largest group of libraries, universities and cultural heritage institutions in the world supporting a universal digital library that is truly open, non-profit, and non-exclusive” said Doron Weber, Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “Maura will help to turn the OCA into a stand-alone membership organization that will play a leadership role on the national and global stage. ”

“Over the past three years members of the OCA have made incredibly important strides toward building a truly open digital information commons and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the organization to new levels of growth and collaboration.” Marx said.

Among Ms. Marx’s first actions will be incorporation of the OCA in the State of Massachusetts and creation of a Board of Directors. She will focus on building collaborations across institutional boundaries, expanding the OCA community and becoming involved in public policy advocacy efforts.

Ms. Marx began her career in Europe in development for the arts with organizations including the Guggenheim Museum (Salzburg) and Warner Brothers.  She then worked as an executive in the U.S. technology sector before coming to the library world.  Her accomplishments have included strategic planning, fundraising, technology planning and public relations for organizations at varying stages of growth. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Digital Commonwealth, the Massachusetts statewide digital library, and holds degrees from the University of Notre Dame, Middlebury College and Simmons College.

About the Open Content Alliance

The Open Content Alliance is an association of approximately 100 cultural and academic institutions, working to engage in activities that support the open sharing of information, including building joint online collections. It was founded by Brewster Kahle and the Internet Archive in 2005 with 12 initial member institutions, and has grown to over 100 today.  The OCA and has collectively provided over 400,000 books for digitization and contributed them to the Internet Archive’s shared public collections. Information on member institutions and open content principles can be found on the OCA web site.

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UNC News Release

For immediate use: Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2008

Carolina attracts world-renowned large-scale data research team; DICE group joins School of Information and Library Science

CHAPEL HILL – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is now home to the world-renowned Data Intensive Cyber Environments (DICE) group (formerly known as Data Intensive Computing Environments group), long of the University of California, San Diego’s  Supercomputer Center.

The research team will hold appointments in Carolina’s nationally recognized School of Information and Library Science with research space in Chapel Hill’s Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI). The award-winning research group brings expertise in development of digital data technologies, including open source software that enables sharing of data in collaborative research, publication of data in digital libraries, and preservation of data in persistent archives for use by future generations, along with a research portfolio exceeding $10 million.

“The opportunity to recruit an entire group of active researchers with an international reputation for vision, innovation and accomplishment is rare, perhaps even unprecedented in information and library science,” said Chancellor Holden Thorp. “Their work is closely aligned with the school’s efforts in the areas of digital libraries and archives, databases,
institutional repositories, information retrieval and information management. Our students and many others across campus will have an extraordinary opportunity to learn from and collaborate with this world-class research team.”

Research team leaders Reagan Moore, Ph.D.; Richard Marciano, Ph.D.; and Arcot Rajasekar, Ph.D.; are in the process of being appointed as full professors in the School of Information and Library Science (SILS), recognized by U.S. News and World Report magazine as the top school of its kind in the nation. Other members of the DICE group will move to Carolina in the next few months.

“The DICE group will function as a magnet for students and collaborators,” said José-Marie Griffiths, school dean. “The group will help us further extend the research computing infrastructure at UNC that will benefit us all, improve our capacity and capability to conduct larger-scale research projects, while inspiring new generations of students to understand that considerable attention and deliberate effort are needed to ensure both effective and long-term access to information.”

Group members will interact with colleagues in the school and other campus units on academic digital library and preservation research efforts, initially focusing on current collaborations such as the National Archives and Records Administration Transcontinental Persistent Archive Prototype and the National Science Foundation Software Development for Cyberinfrastructure project, along with others such as the Library of Congress Video Archiving project.

“A major challenge for the next several decades will be managing the enormous amount of digital data we create in science and research,” said Alan Blatecky, RENCI’s interim director. “The DICE group has years of experience and an international reputation for developing innovative systems for managing distributed digital data. This will be a huge
advantage for Carolina as the wave of new data rapidly becomes a tsunami. We will have the opportunity to extend our leadership nationally and internationally in managing, sharing, publishing and archiving research data.”

Other potential areas for collaboration include biomedical and health data management, grid computing and cyberinfrastructure with Carolina’s Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute and its recently announced National Institute of Health Clinical and Translational Science Award, visualization of large-scale data sets with the College of Arts and Sciences’ department of computer science and with RENCI, as well as shared institutional repositories and digital library systems with RENCI and the Triangle Research Libraries Network. Additional collaborations in the sciences, social sciences and humanities are expected.

“The DICE group, in collaboration with SILS, will pursue development of undergraduate, master’s and doctoral level courses on data grids and preservation environments,” Moore said. “The opportunity to teach academic courses strongly influenced the decision to move to SILS and UNC. We are also interested in pursuing collaborations for the creation of campus cyberinfrastructure and participating on data management projects in support of education, patient medical records and emergency preparedness.”

For more than 10 years the group’s Storage Research Broker (SRB) data grid has been used by research teams worldwide to automate all aspects of manipulation of large, distributed data files, including discovery, access, retrieval, management, replication, archiving and analysis. DICE most recently developed iRODS, the open source Integrated Rule-Oriented Data System, which introduced user-settable rules that automate complex
management policies, helping users tame today’s mushrooming collections of digital data.

The team has worked on national and international projects, providing data management systems for major grid and distributed research projects, including the Southern California Earthquake Center, the TeraGrid, the Worldwide University Network, California Digital Library-Digital Preservation Repository, the Laboratory for the Ocean Observatory Knowledge Integration Grid, the Biomedical Informatics Research Network and the
Geoscience network.

On Thursday (Aug. 29), the DICE group will receive the 2008 J. Franklin Jameson Archival Advocacy Award from the Society of American Archivists during the group’s annual meeting in San Francisco. A society news release said the award honors “an individual, institution or organization that promotes greater public awareness, appreciation or support of archives. The DICE group was selected for its long-time support of and involvement in the archives profession’s work to address the challenges of managing, preserving, and providing access to electronic records.”

School of Information and Library Science Web site: http://sils.unc.edu/
RENCI Web site: http://www.renci.org/
DICE Web site: http://diceresearch.org
iRODS Web site: http://www.irods.org