"Taking the Initiative for Digital Libraries" The Electronic Library (16) 1 (February 1998): 24-27. [http://info.learned.co.uk/li/publications/tel/contents.htm] -- If you're still just a bit unclear what exactly is meant by "digital library", you may be comforted by Electronic Library's interview with Stephen Griffin of NSF's Digital Library Initiative. Griffin acknowledges that the meaning of digital library continues to evolve as technology advances, and believes that this is a good thing as a more open definition enables a larger set of perspectives to influence the discourse, research and practices. Griffin uses the concepts of electronic access vs. intellectual access to help think about digital libraries. He describes electronic access as access to the raw electronic data, and intellectual access as access to deeper knowledge and meaning contained in digital collections. Griffin believes that by providing intellectual access through intelligent systems, that digital libraries have the potential to give users "what they want, not merely what they ask for." He proposes that digital libraries will lead to a reconsideration of the library as an institution and, in the long term, offer an entirely new model through which people can interact with information, beginning, in the nearer term, with scholarly communication. He also offers some suggestions to library managers for this transitional period. -- LY
Curle, David. "Filtered News Services: Solutions in Search of Your Problem?" Online 22(2) (March/April 1998). [http://www.onlineinc.com/onlinemag/OLtocs/OLtocmar3.html] -- You may remember Wired's big, blue, pushy hand from the March 1997 [www.wired.com/5.03/] issue, shoving yet another "radical future" at you and announcing the arrival of push media - that is, electronic information that can be delivered to the user without the need to "pull" it by requesting it each time it's wanted. Curle's less prophetic, more practical article deserves a big hand too, with an index finger pointing to a long list of options for news delivery. Making smart choices is not easily done in the growing flow of media which can spew the world's events onto your screen, and Curle emphasizes that information professionals will have to analyze user needs in the context of organizational systems to come up with viable solutions. He suggests several specific questions that are useful for getting far beyond the obvious filtering issues like whether to eliminate sports from the news stream. Traditionally, what's news has been defined by the sender; now the receiver is getting more power to redefine it, but the sources must still be well-understood. When he changes his focus from the consumer to the provider, Curle discusses the merits of various services, and how they (or parts of them) can fit into appropriate profiles for pushed news. He assesses the services by category and by product, from the custom pages offered by many Web guides to the commercial giants like Dow Jones, noting that most users should be able to get their facts for free in today's environment. If our options continue to multiply, let's hope for many more articles like this one, because this kind of advice is what we'll need to help us get a grip. -- JR
"To Publish and Perish" Policy Perspectives 7(4) (March 1998) (gain access to the article at http://www.irhe.upenn.edu/cgi-bin/pp-cat.pl after registering for free). -- This thoughtful essay is on the problem academic libraries have of maintaining access to information when both the volume and cost of this information has increased dramatically over the last several decades. A brief historical review precedes a set of strategies that libraries, faculties, and university administrations can undertake to "regain the initiative" in scholarly publishing. These strategies include: 1) end the preoccupation with numbers (faculty tenure review should stress quality, not quantity), 2) be smart shoppers (research libraries must select wisely), 3) get a handle on property rights (faculty should be encouraged to retain at least some portion of copyright), 4) invest in electronic forms of scholarly communication, and 5) decouple publication and faculty evaluation for the purposes of promotion and tenure. Before allowing skepticism to persuade you of the futility of succeeding with any of these strategies, you should know that this essay is based on a national meeting of presidents, chief academic officers, and librarians of major research universities across North America. They are in at least shooting distance of being able to effect some local change if not systemic change. -- RT
Wagner, Karen I. "Intellectual Property: Copyright Implications for Higher Education" The Journal of Academic Librarianship 24 (1) (January 1998): 11-19. -- The university consists of many different constituencies all of which are serving the larger mission of the institution which is to educate and promote research and scholarship. These different constituencies, however, have differing perspectives on intellectual property issues. As producers of intellectual property, university presses and faculty are concerned with preserving copyright protection; as consumers of intellectual property, university libraries (and, again, faculty) are more concerned with issues of "fair use;" there are also those constituencies, such as instructional design groups, who are both producers and consumers. Wagner argues that discussion among all of these groups will help in the development of a national policy on intellectual property rights that will be in the best interests of higher education. The emergence of a digital landscape also poses new challenges and opportunities and university presses, libraries, university bookstores and copy centers can take advantage of new technologies to further enhance the ability of higher education to achieve its mission. An extensive bibliography accompanies this article. -- MP
Giese, Mark. "Self Without Body: Textual Self-Representation in an Electronic Community" First Monday 3 (6) (April 6, 1998). [http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue3_4/giese/] -- Giese examines textual modes of communication and how they combine with the new technologies of computer-mediated communication (CMC) to produce new opportunities for social interaction and presentation of self. He studies these new modes of meta-communication, and how they interact in ways that promote the liveliness of community in a text-based electronic environment. He examines one Internet newsgroup, alt.cyberpunk, which has developed a cooperative narrative, in which participants make self-presentations that many would consider "fictional". However, in the community of the list, these presentations must be accepted at face value. He concludes that this new form of self-expression is created by the "tightened feedback loop" that cmc technologies bring to a textual mode of communication--in other words, a text-based narrative becomes a "real-time" interaction, with new, and often strange results. -- TH
Hilf, Bill. "Media Lullabies: The Reinvention of the World Wide Web" First Monday 3 (6) (April 6, 1998) [http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue3_4/hilf/] -- Hilf explores the all-too-easy trap that media and cultural critics fall into when they compare the Web and other Net-based delivery systems to the mass media. He argues such comparative studies have led to large-scale misinterpretations of the Internet. Worse yet, in the era of sound-bite journalism, such misinterpretations rapidly become accepted as meaningful descriptions (remember the Internet as a "library", only the "books" haven't been organized yet?). As part of his analysis, he provides a useful history of the new media. -- TH
Arnold, Judith M. and Elaine Anderson Jayne. "Dangling by a Slender Thread: The Lessons and Implications of Teaching the World Wide Web to Freshmen" The Journal of Academic Librarianship 24 (1) (January 1998): 43-52. -- Based on the authors' own experience of teaching library skills to a freshmen writing class, this well-researched article discusses the challenges, problems and implications of teaching the Web. Their approach to teaching was to focus on resources that are unique to the Web such as sites that offer current or government information that is not available elsewhere. Furthermore, they argue that the Web needs to be taught within an appropriate context of the information seeking process and as just one of many information sources along with books, journals and newspapers. Most importantly, the authors wanted to provide an evaluative framework in their approach to teaching the Web. Trying to teach students how to evaluate sources when doing library research is one of the biggest challenges for instruction librarians. In some ways, the nature of the Web with its largely free-flowing content gives library instructors a unique opportunity to introduce critical thinking skills and evaluative tools. -- MP
Payette, Sandra. "Persistent Identifiers on the Digital Terrain" RLG DigiNews 2(2) (1997). [http://www.rlg.org/preserv/diginews/diginews22.html#Identifiers] -- In what has almost become a mythical pursuit similar to the search for the Holy Grail, those involved with developing standards for the Web have long sought a solution to the problem of broken URLs. What is needed is some kind of persistent address that can be resolved to the actual location of the desired information, even as it moves from place to place. This overview piece serves as an excellent introduction to the topic and an overview of current or near-term solutions. The particular schemes profiled include Persistent URLs or PURLs (please, no swine jokes), Handles, and Digital Object Identifiers or DOIs. None of these schemes comes from the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), which has been pondering this conundrum since the dawn of time (ca. early 1990's on the Web calendar). Payette includes a strategy for implementing persistent identifiers for a given project, a brief discussion of implications, and some pointers (yes, URLs) to further information. -- RT
Ma, Wei. "The Near Future Trend: Combining Web Access and Local CD Networks" The Electronic Library 16 (1) (February 1998): 49-54. -- Should libraries continue expanding and investing in CD-ROM networks? This article asserts that librarians will continue to see a mix of CD-ROM based and Internet-based resources in the near term. A mix will be optimal because the two media have different strengths. CD-ROM is best for specialized titles that are less used, and for large amounts of static data. Internet versions are better for sources with broader appeal, and for databases that require frequent and timely updates. Drawing from Occidental College's experience, Ma concludes that the optimal mix should consider the entire community environment, not just the individual library. Ma also profiles selected equipment that Occidental used in designing their architecture. -- LY
Ypsilanti, Dimitri, and Louisa Gosling. Towards a Global Information Society: Global Information Infrastructure, Global Information Society: Policy Requirements. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 1997. [http://www.oecd.org/dsti/sti/it/infosoc/prod/e_97-139.htm]. -- The OECD [www.oecd.org] is the 29-nation organization which has grown from a core group of Marshall Plan countries to encompass most of what we consider the industrialized world. For information technology developments, it is worth watching as a policy-recommending body which is wrestling with the big issues: privacy, electronic commerce, media convergence, infrastructure and the gap between the wired and the left behind. Reading their publications is a refreshing change from those which reflect only American views. For example, the membership voted down the Clinton administration's proposed key escrow encryption system two years ago, and has debated several alternatives, revealing a range of attitudes about privacy and law enforcement (see the OECD Information Security and Privacy page [http://www.oecd.org/dsti/sti/it/secur/index.htm]). Towards a Global Information Society is recommended as a focal point for the study of global information issues. Don't be put off by the rather inflated, abstract tone of the introduction - after all, these are the real "big picture" people, and the succeeding chapters do get down to specifics about particular problems and trends and the agencies which can influence them. I found the attention paid to media content to be particularly interesting; one aspect was a discussion of consolidated ownership vs. the preservation of cultural and linguistic diversity (the authors are of the opinion that policies which encourage the development of a variety of multimedia services also encourage the proliferation of sources of local content). References throughout the text are well-documented in an extensive bibliography; one citation in particular deserves mention here, the OECD's own Information Technology Outlook [http://www.oecd.org/dsti/sti/it/prod/itblurb.htm] which is the source for many of the tables and graphs. -- JR
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