Conference logo Networked Information in an International Context


9th and 10th February 1996 at the Ramada Hotel, Heathrow, UK


BARBARA McFADDEN ALLEN Director, CIC Center for Library Initiatives

This account was prepared for this report by The Marc Fresko Consultancy. It is based on an edited version of a paper supplied by the speaker.


The members of the CIC (Committee on Institutional Co-operation) are presently engaged in the collaborative development of the largest fully managed collection of electronic journals available on the Internet. The project directly addresses the growing need to develop, test, and implement networked information tools and resources which use collaborative, multi-institutional, efforts. This paper outlines the development of this resource, and concludes with a discussion about the future environment which will be necessary if projects such as this are to become commonplace throughout the higher education community. To place the project in context, descriptions of the Committee on Institutional Co-operation (CIC), the CIC universities, the CIC Center for Library Initiatives, and CICNet, Inc., are given.


As noted above, the "CIC" stands for the Committee on Institutional Co-operation, a 35 year-old collaboration among the following universities:

Today, there are over 75 separate and unique co-operative activities operating under the aegis of the CIC.

Collectively the CIC universities account for more than 17% of the doctorates awarded annually, more than $2.5 billion in externally funded research annually, and over 17% of the holdings of the Association for Research Libraries. They represent an aggregate total of over 500,000 students, 33,000 faculty, and 57 million volumes within their libraries.

Like all of the nationís major institutions of higher education, the CIC universities depend on the availability of reliable, high quality resources of all kinds, ranging from those available through their libraries and faculties to the most advanced technologies in their laboratories, computing environments, and related teaching and research facilities. What is unique about the CIC universities, however, are the many initiatives within and among them which depend on a reliable and advanced networked infrastructure and on staff, facility, and financial investments focused on true programmatic Co-operation. Collaborative initiatives have evolved which require stable inter-institutional technical standards and support mechanisms and, increasingly, the availability of shared, reliable information resources and services. Indeed, there are now some initiatives which might not be possible without such infrastructures.


The Committee on Institutional Cooperation is made up of the Provosts of the above universities; it meets four times annually. The office of the CIC is located at Champaign/Urbana, Illinois. It is professionally staffed, with a director and nine FTEs. Its current operating budget is slightly over $4 million. It is important to understand that there is core financial backing to the philosophical concept of the CIC in order to understand the context of this paper. Additional funding, from member dues, research grants, and the usual host of other sources exist for most of the initiatives which have evolved under the umbrella of the office of the CIC.

The CIC has always been governed by its three founding principles:

These principles are critical to the successes of our programs. Among academic consortia, the nature of the CIC institutionsí collaboration is outstanding: individually these are some of the greatest institutions of higher learning in this - or any - country. They are driven by different missions, governed by separate boards and obtain their funding from a variety of separate sources. They are all clearly autonomous organisations with no central funding or administrative body. Further, each of these universities has unparalleled academic and research programs in a variety of fields; they sometimes compete fiercely for funding, students and stature. Yet, co-operatively, they have been able to become a formidable force in higher education.


Two offices which have evolved under the umbrella of the CIC are the CIC Center for Library Initiatives and CICNet, Incorporated.

CICNet, the regional TCP/IP network founded by the CIC in 1988, serves the internetworking needs of the CIC universities, other academic institutions, not-for-profit organisations, and businesses. CICNet has had a strong interest in the design and deployment of networked information services. CICNet is currently involved in three major National Science Foundation-funded projects to bring Internet access to under-served communities, namely:

These projects will enable constituencies that can most benefit from Internet access for communication to take advantage of it. Funding for CICNet is primarily from three sources: member dues from the CIC universities, specific projects funded by the National Science Foundation, and the sale of Internet connectivity and services to for-profit and non-for-profit sectors.

The CIC Center for Library Initiatives (CLI) was established in September 1994, to support collaborative efforts specifically among the CIC libraries. Co-operative resource sharing has long been a practice among the CIC libraries, and the CIC has an enviable record of successful, funded R&D projects. Most notably, the CIC libraries are now engaged in a Virtual Electronic Library (VEL) project, funded through a United States Department of Education grant. The VEL project will develop the technical infrastructure required to provide seamless interconnections among a range of OPAC systems within the CIC libraries, and demonstrate its applications through user-initiated interlibrary loans and document delivery throughout the CIC. The VEL will enable more than half a million faculty, staff, and students to explore and take advantage of vast resources within the CIC. Inherent to the VEL project is the addition of an expanded set of electronic sources to the VEL pool of information resources. The Center for Library Initiatives is funded by dues paid by members of the CIC.

Thus the general framework for collaboration lies in the strong support at the highest levels of member university administration as evidenced by the existence of the funded office of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation and its subsidiaries. Relevant initiatives in support of the missions of the member universities flow from within this framework. One such initiative, in this case involving the Center for Library Initiatives and CICNet, Inc., is the Wide Area Information Resources Management (SEIRM) project, informally referred to as the CIC Electronic Journals Collection or CIC EJC.


Increasingly ubiquitous Internet access within the research university, combined with the popularisation of the World Wide Web, has made on-line academic publication and research more desirable. The expansion of Internet-based publishing provides opportunities and challenges for libraries interested in the shared development and management of electronic collections. The low cost per increment of user access compared with print journals, regardless of user location, argues strongly for building multi-institutional electronic collections. Internet tools and communications methods also make it possible to distribute the collection development and management tasks across multiple institutions. We are faced with two challenges:


The development of the CIC Electronic Journals Collection (CIC EJC) grows out of collaborative efforts between CICNet and the CIC library community, combined with CICNetís early work with WAIS and Gopher. In 1991, the CIC library collection development officers asked CICNet to create an archive of the public domain electronic journals which many of them had begun to collect locally but had no long-term means of archiving. CICNet went beyond this original charge: archiving e-journals available at CIC member institutions, and sweeping the Internet to collect all e-journals that could be obtained through an automated FTP process. The result, an undifferentiated collection of some 700 titles in varying depths of retrospective coverage and completeness, was made accessible on a CICNet server, and is now accessed approximately 35,000 times a day by users of the Internet.

The collection process was valuable in illustrating the range of materials available, but it became clear that no entirely automated process could produce a collection that would satisfy the needs of most scholars. The process of automatically sweeping the net could be used only to gather those items available through FTP. Many new electronic journals are made available via Gopher or the Web. The current collection is best thought of as a snapshot of materials available at a particular time in the history of the Internet rather than a comprehensive resource, but the frequency of its use clearly indicates the need for a reliable managed collection of e-journals. This collection is available at URL gopher://


In response to the need for a comprehensive collection of scholarly and research electronic journals, the CIC Task Force on the Electronic Collection developed a complete plan for building a managed electronic journal collection (CIC-EJC) based on the CICNet gopher server. The Task Force, which includes representation both from CICNet and the CIC libraries, planned the collection from selection to maintenance. CICNet staff then developed a prototype system based on the recommendations and input of the Task Force. The prototype system is available on the World Wide Web at URL and is intended to serve as an illustration of the work which can be achieved by the librarians of the CIC universities and the staff of CICNet. It includes some 50 electronic journals, with current bibliographic records, complete and current holdings of all titles in the collection, a helpful World Wide Web interface which links the bibliographic records to the e-journals (the journals remain on publishersí sites; the text is archived by CIC-EJC), and consistent archiving of the materials in the collection. The prototype supports browsing by title and by subject, and searching the bibliographic records. The titles are mainly in the areas of IT and science subjects, but we hope to increase the Arts and Humanities coverage.

We have five broad objectives for this project:

The work of the project has been divided and organised as follows:

Center for Library Initiatives:

CICNet, Incorporated:

CIC Member Librarians:


We hope to begin aggressive development of this resource within the next six months including:

Along the way, we hope to obtain insights into the answers for relatively fundamental questions, such as:

We will also consider natural functional enhancements, such as full text searching.

As we move forward with development of a viable virtual electronic library, the CIC EJC will serve both as a testbed of inter-university collaboration and as an integral information resource for our users. The CIC Center for Library Initiatives, in concert with CICNet, will continue the work of tying together discrete projects and developments with an aim of providing flexible, desktop access and delivery of information resources for the 500,000 students and 35,000 faculty and researchers of the CIC universities.

In the short term, we have submitted a proposal to the National Science Foundation for support of the CIC EJC. We will continue to refine specifications for interlibrary lending systems and concomitant delivery mechanisms, and we will move aggressively into the production and dissemination of digital resources. Our aim is to deploy a seamless access tool to allow users to navigate the wealth of CIC library and information resources. Through such action, we will continue the tradition of excellence in higher education upon which the CIC was founded - providing our students with the finest education available, and providing our researchers with unparalleled access to information. And by providing the CIC EJC to the Internet community we continue our great tradition of serving a vital role as contributors of research results and products to the broader international education community.


Further information is available at URL:

The speaker can be contacted at

The prototype electronic journal collection (CIC-EJC) is available at URL:

British Library R&D Report 6250
© The British Library Board 1996
© Joint Information Systems Committee of the Higher Education Funding Bodies 1996

The opinions expressed in this report are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the sponsoring organisations.


The primary publication medium for this report is via the Internet at URL
It may also be purchased as photocopies or microfiche from the British Thesis Service, British Library Document Supply Centre, Boston Spa, Wetherby, West Yorkshire, LS23 7BQ.

This report of the conference was prepared by The Marc Fresko Consultancy Telephone +44 181 645 0080 E-mail

Converted to HTML by Isobel Stark of UKOLN, July 1996