GNARP leadership has devoted attention this year, as in the past, to digital content that will be useful to our members. Much of this content is found in licensed databases for which we have procured discounted pricing—Bibliographie der deutschen Sprach-und Literaturwissenschaft (BDSL), the German literature bibliography; xipolis, the reference book suite; and DigiZeitschriften, the retrospective journals collection—all from Germany, and Digitale Bibliothek deutscher Klassiker, the collection of editions by Deutscher Klassiker Verlag and licensed from ProQuest. GNARP participation in these subscriptions has been stable and even risen modestly in the past year.
More recently we saw the opportunity to benefit members with access to other databases, the Bibliography of Linguistic Literature (BLL) and the World Biographical Information System (WBIS). Like BDSL, the BLL database derives its content from a German annual print publication that strives for comprehensive bibliographic coverage in its field. The BLL and BDS database interfaces are provided by semantics, a company based in Aachen, Germany. semantics has been very responsive to our suggestions, such as the implementation of Open URL linking from citations, which increasingly is expected in the US. And unlike BDSL, the BLL database interface is fully translated into English.
The World Biographical Information System (WBIS), like the KG Saur microfiche collections on which it is based, is held by many GNARP-affiliated libraries and consists of full-text, nation-specific, biographical entries compiled from encyclopedias. Negotiations with deGruyter Saur for discounted GNARP access to WBIS have been long and complex. We recently announced the negotiated offer and invited all Global Resources Network (GRN) member libraries to join. The offer contains the following features:
- Discounts of 55–60 percent off list price on the outright purchase of individual collections.
- The largest discounts will apply if, as a group, GRN libraries purchase at least 160 collections. This includes past purchases of collections, as well as commitments to purchase collections at this time.
- GRN libraries that cannot purchase archives can still benefit from a 50 percent discount in subscription access to the citations-only key to biographical entries, the World Biographical Index or WBI.
There was a preliminary April deadline for commitments to these offers with the possibility of an extension, and a prospective May starting point for new subscriptions. Please contact me (732-932-7129 x136 niessen at rci.rutgers.edu) or Judy Eckoff Alspach (773-955-4545, ext. 323, eckoff at crl.edu) for more information or to indicate your interest in participation.
The current modest level of participation in the English-language database offerings suggests that we should consider whether or not such products are consistent with the mission and needs of GNARP. We have been very mindful of the relative decline in German reading skills at American universities, and parallel concerns about the international standing of German as a language of scholarship and the savvy expansion by German publishers of their English language materials. Extending the WBIS offer to all GRN libraries breaks new ground for us and reflects the international character of both WBIS and GRN. But if the interest in English language databases is not proportionate to the effort expended in procuring access to them, we should reassess this effort.
Another focus of our organizational activity has been discussion of a librarian exchange program between German and American libraries. There is strong German interest in American librarianship and an emphasis on gaining practicum experience that made this seem like a promising field of activity. Michael Seadle at Humboldt University in Berlin and Graham Walden at Ohio State in Columbus reported on our options to the Steering Committee. One option under consideration—to facilitate bilateral agreements between German and North American universities—proved unfeasible, so attention has shifted to the hosting of Germans in North American libraries.
The Steering Committee has concluded a year of deliberation on the revision of GNARP’s bylaws. The foremost concern was to clarify the role of institutional membership since the benefits and purpose of GNARP are most evident as they affect member libraries. At the same time we wanted to provide continued opportunities for contribution to our work by talented and dedicated individuals at non-member libraries. The new text provides for institutional and personal membership; identifies steering committees, working groups, and task forces; clarifies procedures for voting, amendments, and other governance matters; and establishes legal and financial understandings for project assets. The new bylaws also provide for a parallel governance structure in Germany if desired by our German colleagues. The existing bylaws are silent about the procedure for approving new bylaws. The Steering Committee agreed to submit them for ratification by the membership in our next elections.
The Steering Committee also decided, without dissent, to establish the following institutional annual membership dues for the first time: $250 for members of the Center for Research Libraries, and $350 for non-members of CRL. The collection of dues, albeit moderate, is consistent with the reality of GNARP as a consortium of member libraries that incurs real costs through the management of database licenses and the provision of a new online working space for the Steering Committee and working groups.
Several long-standing members of the Steering Committee will be ending their terms of service, including Michael Seadle of Humboldt University and Melissa Trevvett of the Center for Research Libraries. The three incumbent working group chairs have elected to stand down and must also be replaced. We will be appointing a nominating committee in the near future to compose a slate of candidates for our first elections under the new bylaws.