Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 9, no. 10, October 1998

Edited by Teri Andrews Rinne

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356 -

Contributors: Kirk Hastings, Terry Huwe, Margaret Phillips, Richard Rinehart, Jim Ronningen, Roy Tennant, Lisa Yesson

[ Digital Libraries ] [ Electronic Publishing ] [ Networks & Networking ] [ General ]

Digital Libraries

Kranch, Douglas A. "Beyond Migration: Preserving Electronic Documents with Digital Tablets." Information Technology & Libraries 17(3) (September 1998): 138-148. - Preserving digital information is one of the great challenges facing librarians and archivists. There are numerous issues that must be addressed, from technical details to organizational structures. In this piece, however, Kranch focuses mainly on the technical details, by putting forward the idea of encapsulating digital content in a "tablet" that contains all the hardware and software required to use it. Such tablets would, presumably, prevent the need to migrate the information forward into new systems that replace the ones used to create the information in the first place. Although the idea has some merit, one could just as easily consider the information to be "entombed" as well as preserved, since presumably it would not be accessible to any future systems that add capabilities to the manipulation of digital information. Nonetheless, we're too early in the digital preservation game to throw out any ideas too hastily. At this point every idea should receive serious and thoughtful consideration. - RT

Sherwood, Lyn Elliot. "Discovering Buffalo Story Robes: A Case for Cross-Domain Information Strategies" Computers and the Humanities 32(1)(1998): 57-64. - Buffalo Story Robes (, a small digital exhibit from Canada's Glenbow Museum, is the inspiration for this author's insights into how to realize the potential of the digital library. Sherwood, the head of the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) found that this exhibit on the stories of the tribes of the Canadian plains had many related resources in government repositories, archives and libraries. The exhibit represents one small example of a current challenge in the digital environment: how to enable users to find related across domains. Sherwood acknowledges that "each of these communities is bound by its own traditions and classification schema." He asserts that effective access is dependent on increased collaboration among the many disciplines, and recommends looking closely at the role of authorities, thesauri and a process for mapping taxonomies across domains. Perhaps common sense, but essential if we are ever to realize the vision of the digital library as "an organized, selected or managed body of information." - LY

Still, Julie and Vibiana Kassabian. "Searching for Bill and Jane: Electronic Full-Text Literature" Database 21 (5) (October/November 1998): 15-24. - This month's cover story takes a closer look at electronic text resources available in English language prose with a specific focus on Shakespeare, Austen and nature writing. This survey is helpful not only for the references to major electronic guides and archives on literary resources (both free and fee-based), but also for detailed evaluations of individual resources. The authors recognize that "people do not usually use electronic texts to read works, but, rather to study them." Based on their review, there is ample material on Shakespeare for all types of users, some on Austen but very little on the genre of nature writing. Their conclusions? Available resources still focus on the most widely known or studied authors. And the value of these resources for scholars depends on whether they are based on authoritative editions and include value-added materials or search features. - LY

Electronic Publishing

Baca, Murtha, ed. Introduction to Metadata: Pathways to Digital Information Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Trust, 1998, ISBN 0-89236-533-1. - This concise booklet follows the publication of the Getty's earlier Introduction to Imaging with the same small-sized format, introductory but not simplistic information, also priced at around $8. Just as the earlier publication was an introduction to digital imaging from many angles, this booklet introduces the reader to the world of standards, with an emphasis on semantic standards such as LCSH and AAT. It also provides an overview of different kinds of metadata such as record structures (MARC, EAD) and interchange formats and tools (SGML, Z39.50). - RR

Day, Colin. "Digital Alternatives: Solving the Problem or Shifting the Costs?" Journal of Electronic Publishing 4 (September 1998). ( - While some of us may be pinning all of our hopes on electronic publishing as the solution to the ills that currently plague academic publishing, Colin Day -- writing about the academic mongraph -- has made it his responsibility to debunk those dreams. Publishers, he observes, are driven by the wishes of authors on the one hand and readers on the other. As far as he can tell, there is no pressure from either group for any type of product "other than the traditional codex, carefully edited, nicely produced, and energetically marketed." Digital publication of a monograph simply shifts the cost of production from the publisher to the scholar. - MP

Sosteric, Mike. "At the Speed of Thought: Pursuing Non-Commercial Alternatives to Scholarly Communication" ARL Newsletter 200 (October 1998). ( - By now, to talk of the crisis in scholarly communication and to express outrage over the escalating costs of journal literature is to sound like a broken record. And despite our greatest hopes that new technologies will be the solution to this crisis, it looks as if electronic publishing has only served as yet another opporutunity for commercial publishers to increase their profits; some commercial publishers (the few that are left in the increasingly monopolized world of academic publishing) have been know to force libraries to purchase both paper and electronic versions of their journals at rates that are even higher than the standard print costs. Libraries are virtually powerless to offset the practices of commercial publishers. At the same time, independent scholars are reluctant to take up the call to independent publication because too much work is involved, editorial duties are not highly regarded when it comes to tenure and advancement and there is no organizational support systematically advocating for a revolution in scholarly communication. This is where Mike Sosteric comes in. He is the director of the International Consortium of Alternative Academic Publication (ICAAP) (, whose mission is to "reduce the barriers to independent scholarly publication by bringing together scholars and institutions from all countries and all disciplines who are interested in bringing economic health back to the scholarly communication system." In order to fulfill its mission, the group will provide editorial assistance (HTML, copy editing, etc.), develop an apprenticeship program for young scholars to train them in the art and science of scholarly communication, and work to develop technical standards for electronic publishing. - MP

Varian, Hal R. "The Future of Electronic Jounals" Journal of Electronic Publishing 4 (September 1998) ( - In this article, a reprint of a talk he delivered at the Scholarly Communication and Technology Conference ( in April 1997, Varian looks at the economics of journal production in order to make some observations about the future of electronic journals. Electronic submission and distribution of manuscripts among editorial staff and reviewers can reduce the cost of journal production by almost one-half. Electronic distribution can bring further savings and has the value-added benefit of allowing precise monitoring of the number of hits per article, full-text search capabilities, and hyperlinkage to other relevant articles. Varian provides a provocative model for how electronic journals can solve what he calls the "filtering" issue. In the current scenario, more and more articles are being published. In other words, if you really want to publish something, chances are you can find someone to publish it; this indicates that the filtering function of peer review -- designed to ensure that only the work that's worthy gets published -- may not be working. While electronic publishing will only add to the information glut, Varian's model proposes that reviewers' anonymous evaluations be linked (and searchable) to the actual article. - MP

Networks & Networking

Fleming, Jennifer. Web Navigation: Designing the User Experience Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly & Associates, 1998. - Probably the second most common Web problem (the first being the "World Wide Wait"), is getting lost in webspace. This is the experience of becoming disoriented and not knowing which link to click to get to where you want to go. Many Web sites seem to almost delight in making us puzzle over what we can find at the site, or how to get around, or even the meaning of certain buttons or labels. Chin up, help has arrived. Fleming's book is chock-full of good information, advice, examples, diagrams, screen shots (both in full-color and black-and-white), and links. With this book, and the recently released Information Architecture for the World Wide Web (cited in the March 1998 issue of Current Cites), Web managers can no longer use ignorance as an excuse for creating unorganized piles of documents instead of useful Web sites. - RT


Proceedings of Reference Services in a Digital Age Washington: Library of Congress, 1998 ( - Don't come to the proceedings of the Library of Congress-sponsored institute "Reference Services in a Digital Age" to have your questions answered. It won't happen. Rather, what this site may help you to do is to raise some new questions. What should reference services be like when increasingly the information our users need is in digital form, and it can be accessed without ever stepping foot in a library? How can we interject human (and humane) assistance into these new environments? What new roles are there for reference librarians? What new kinds of education and training are required to become proficient at providing service? These are important questions, and questions that institutes such as this can help us frame and deal with as a profession. - RT

Current Cites 9(10) (October 1998) ISSN: 1060-2356
Copyright © 1998 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.

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