Proposed Changes to ERIC Clearinghouses

Article excerpt

The U.S. Department of Education has issued a draft Scope of Work (SOW) for a NEW ERIC system. Unless the draft SOW is modified, all 16 Clearinghouses and their services (including AskERIC, Publications, and Digests) will be eliminated.

What the ERIC Board of Directors Have To Say:

"The Good News. It's not all bad news. A number of improvements long advocated by the ERIC Clearinghouses have been incorporated into the draft ERIC Scope of Work. These include:

1. More rigorous selection criteria for materials added to the database.

2. Greater speed in building the database.

3. Centralized processing of materials for the database.

4. Use of XML for greater interoperability.

5. Free full text copies of many materials.

6. Better metatagging of content for easier searching.

7. Centralizing administrative functions for greater efficiency

The Bad News. Unfortunately, however, many of the proposed changes eliminate or damage services essential to educators and the general public. The draft SOW:

1. Eliminates all 16 ERIC Clearinghouses. The closing of the clearinghouses will eliminate the long-lasting partnerships ERIC Clearinghouses have developed with rich discourse communities of researchers, practitioners, and parents. Under the proposed new Scope of Work, ERIC becomes an impersonal, auto mated database.

2. Eliminates personalized services. Many ERIC customers need direct contact with a content specialist who can help them obtain information or clarification before searching the database. Others lack ready access to a computer or the skills required to navigate the database. But the draft SOW eliminates these services:

a. AskERIC and clearinghouse information services--these services respond to nearly 100,000 questions each year.

b. Digests, books, and other publications.

c. Clearinghouse Web sites.

d. Networking and outreach activities.

e. ERIC-sponsored Listservs.

f. …