Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 9, no. 12, December 1998

Edited by Teri Andrews Rinne

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

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

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

Digital Libraries

Baker, Thomas. "Languages for Dublin Core" D-Lib Magazine (December 1998) ( - This article offers a different and interesting perspective on the Dublin Core metadata element set and standardization process than those views that have come before. By looking at the process and content through the lens of language, Baker provides us with perhaps a better model and justification for the often frustrating and confusing process of defining a basic metadata standard. Baker also illustrates that the Dublin Core is emerging as a truly global draft standard, with implementations in dozens of countries around the world. The language issues that arise from these implementations are also briefly covered here as well. For DC wonks this is a must-read. For others, it may have some interesting moments but it is not essential for a basic understanding of the DC. - RT

Greenstein, Daniel. "The Arts and Humanities Data Service Three Years' On D-Lib Magazine (December 1998) ( - If you are unfamiliar with the collections and services of the Arts and Humanities Data Service, this article will serve as a good introduction to what they have to offer the academic communities in these subject areas. If you are familiar with their work (which includes the long-running and unique Oxford Text Archive, among other notable collections and services), then you should concentrate on the sections "Collections Development", "Resource Discovery" and "Challenges to be Confronted" to discover how they do it and what challenges remain. - RT

"Lessons Learned: National Digital Library Competition" Washington, DC: Library of Congress/Ameritech, 1998. ( - This Web page provides some useful insights into the process of creating digital library collections. The Library of Congress pulled out quotes from some of the reports submitted by libraries participating in the LC/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition. The purpose in doing so is to provide to others doing or thinking about doing something similar some anecdotal information about some of the issues they may encounter. In reading these brief extracts from a variety of projects, some interesting things emerge. One is the diversity of problems encountered and solutions selected. Another is that very few of the projects (if any) were executed exactly as initially planned. From this evidence alone it is clear that flexibility and problem-solving skills are two essential ingredients for any digital library project. Links are provided to the output of the various projects, so you can gauge for yourself how well these projects have overcome their challenges. - RT

Nardi, Bonnie A. and Vicki L. O'Day. "Application and Implications of Agent Technology for Libraries" The Electronic Library 16 (5): (October 1998): 325-337. - At first glance this article may appear to be yet another instance of the librarian profession under siege. Happily, it turns out to be a balanced and persuasive case for the creation of a diverse information ecology, taking the best from both software agents and human agents. Nardi and O'Day present a set of nine principles for designing agent technology based on their studies of reference librarians ("exemplary human agents"). From their observations, they recommend that agents should be "activity-aware" and accommodate client's preferences, constraints and environment. They are careful to avoid the overly simplistic notion that software agents will replace librarians. Instead, the authors acknowledge the unique (and often invisible) skills of librarians such as the subtlety and tact of a reference interview and the mental cataloging of extensive resources. But they also explain some of the benefits that software agents would offer, in their conclusion that the strengths of both human agents and software agents are critical to effectively providing information services. For those who are still concerned about the future of the librarian profession, the authors offer important new librarian roles, including assisting in the design of these intelligent systems - imagine that! - LY

Networks & Networking

Peete, Gary R. Business, Government and the Law on the Internet. Berkeley, California: Library Solutions Press, 1999. ISBN: 1-882208-24-2. - As with all of the Internet Workshop Series workbooks, this guide to business, government and the law is designed to be either a self-paced guide or a model training tool. Included in this book is a ready reference guide with a briefly annotated list of Internet sites. Module One focuses on the World Wide Web providing an overview of Netscape mechanics and Web search strategies that use business, government and law topics as examples. A special section on evaluating Internet sites is particularly useful. Module Two discusses other Internet series such as email, ftp telnet and even gopher. - MP

Port, Otis. "Through a Glass Quickly" Businessweek 3607 (December 7, 1998): 96-98. - Lucent Technologies has pioneered a new kind of photonics technology that may enable fiber-optics networks to shatter all previously forecast limits on traffic. This article showcases the new technology, known as "Wave Length Division Multiplexing," or WDM. WDM "compacts" the rainbow of light that conveys messages into ever-smaller bands on a fiber line. The result is that very dense communication, such as three-dimensional depictions of surgery, or instantaneous warehouse-to-consumer information streams, will pose no serious bandwith problem. Commercial products that use WDM may appear by the turn of the century, so it's not that far away. Here's a sampling of the good news. This technology offers a real possibility that network communications costs (both telecom and Internetworking) may drop to zero sooner versus later, enabling all computers and services to maintain constant connections. The bad news: the industries that will be most affected have not begun to speculate seriously about how to manage e-commerce if connectivity is essentially free, so there could be some serious catch-up work ahead. - TH


Schorr, Herbert and Salvatore J. Stolfo. "A Digital Government for the 21st Century" Communications of the ACM 41(11) (Nov. 1998) ( p15-schorr.pdf) - "Many government agencies procure expensive and complex information systems without the benefit of sufficient interaction with each other or with the R&D community." That representative quote is from the full report ( of the Workshop on Research and Development Opportunities in Federal Information Services, which the CACM article summarizes. Examples of such opportunities are proposed projects in crisis management systems, large-scale statistical datasets, online public interaction with agencies, and "intelligent" transportation. Current government services are characterized as burdened by outmoded legacy systems which are limited to particular tasks and vertically integrated in an impermeable stovepipe configuration. (There's a clear tone of envy for the private sector, flowering with systems that are increasingly flexible, responsive and interoperable.) Admirably, thorny issues are addressed, such as the obstacles formed by the culture clash of the academic, industrial and public service communities. Though it's a bit buffered by the hifalutin' language used in both article and report, a little reading between the lines reveals a painful acknowledgement that for most computer people, "government" means "bloated bureaucracy" and they want nothing to do with it. But folks, remember DARPA and what it led to? This call for help is worth considering, not just for the immediate gratification in federal research money, but for the opportunity to create a better future for the public good. - JR

Stoffle, Carla J. "Literacy 101 for the Digital Age" American Libraries 29(11) (December 1998):46-48. - Stoffle's thesis is that information literacy is essential for everyone, and academic librarians must rethink how they help students achieve it. Among the strategies that Stoffle suggests are: "Libraries will have to make education a priority"; "[We must] extend our concept of librarians' role as educators to partnering with faculty in designing individual courses and curricula"; "partnerships with other institutional units and professionals are equally essential"; "Librarians must also modify their concepts of how they'll teach such skills"; "we'll also need to identify how support staff can help"; "Librarians must learn how to be effective teachers and designers of assignments in more systematic ways than the hit-or-miss methods in vogue today"; and, "librarians will need to find ways to continually develop their own technological skills". A sidebar "Learning from the Teaching Libraries" by Kimberly M. Donnelly highlights a few of the porgrams around the U.S. which are attempting to implement such strategies.- RT

Current Cites 9(12) (December 1998) ISSN: 1060-2356
Copyright © 1998 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.

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