Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 9, no. 6, June 1998

Edited by Teri Andrews Rinne

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

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

[ Digital Libraries ] [ Electronic Publishing ] [ Information Technology & Society ] [ Networks & Networking ] [ General ]

Digital Libraries

Guthrie, Kevin. "JSTOR and the University of Michigan: An Evolving Collaboration" Library Hi Tech 16 (1) (1998): 9-14. -- This special issue of Library Hi Tech features the dynamic cultural and technological changes affecting the University of Michigan library arena. With the recent attention on scholarly communication and collaboration, it's timely to take a closer look at Michigan's relationship with JSTOR (short for Journal STORage, at, and their progress in making backfiles of selected journals available in electronic form. Originally a grant project of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with ten test journals and six test libraries, JSTOR is now an independent, not-for-profit organization with approximately 250 paying library participants and 70 journals committed to contributing content. Guthrie, JSTOR's President, chronicles the history of this collaboration and notes that it provided the flexibility necessary to meet the administrative structures, organizational processes and physical plant requirements of a fast-growing entrepreneurial enterprise. While Guthrie acknowledges the challenges involved in a distributed organizational model, he believes that the benefits outweigh the costs. He expresses the organization's commitment to maintaining its close relationship with the university community to ensure that JSTOR remains responsive to user needs. Ideally their lessons can be applied not only to other digital library initiatives, but also to other areas ripe for self-sustaining enterprises. -- LY

Payette, Sandra D. and Oya Y. Rieger. "Supporting Scholarly Inquiry: Incorporating Users in the Design of the Digital Library" The Journal of Academic Librarianship 24(2) (March 1998):121-129. -- Through a series of questionnaires and interviews with faculty and students, the Mann Library at Cornell University conducted a study to find out how users engage in research using its digital Gateway. The study sought to assess the effectiveness of the existing design, and to develop principles to be used in developing the next generation of the Gateway. Users, it seems, do not engage in scholarly research that is linear, highly structured and logical and therefore digital libraries need to be designed in a way that minimizes hierarchical, linear metaphors and that create features that can be customized to an individual's personal style and technical capabilities. The Gateway was designed with input from earlier focus groups but, interestingly, the more recent user survey showed that users were not, in fact, taking advantage of features developed in response to their expressed requirements! In addition to describing the experiences at Cornell University, the article provides an excellent review of the literature of user studies in the digital library context. -- MP

Electronic Publishing

Balas, Janet. "Copyright in the Digital Era" Computers in Libraries 18(6) (June 1998) ( -- The title doesn't offer a clue that this is a great annotated collection of sources for researching current issues in copyrighted information. You may be burying your head in the sand while chanting the "fair use" mantra (which is pretty hard to do with sand in your mouth), but aren't you curious what the United States Copyright Office, the American Library Association, the Digital Future Coalition, the Creative Incentive Coalition and others have to say about it? URLs are given for the relevant pages from each organization, along with commentary about the role each one plays in shaping copyright policy or depicting the current state of affairs (which might be analogous to a strobe-lit snapshot of a nighttime mob scene). Here's a shortcut to one document which is highly relevant for many of us: "Reproductions of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians" ( which is U.S. Copyright Office Copyright Information Circular 21. Curl up with your favorite TV lawyer (surely preoccupied with other things) and have a good long read. -- JR

Kasdorf, Bill. "SGML and PDF: Why We Need Both" Journal of Electronic Publishing 3(4) (June 1998) ( -- Discussions about appropriate digital file formats often degenerate to the level of a debate, in which advocates of one format slug it out with proponents of another. Thus this article is a refreshing perspective, in which the benefits of two very different publication formats are examined for their utility in different situations. The not unsurprising conclusion is that one format does not prevent publication in the other, and publishing in both is often beneficial. -- RT

Information Technology & Society

Digital Future Coalition ( -- This is not an article per se, but a web resource and organization. DFC is an umbrella lobbying and information sharing organization concentrating on issues of intellectual property and copyright legislation and policy worldwide. Members include the American Library Association and the Society of American Archivists, etc. Their explicit aim is to lobby for balanced legislation that protects access to information as well as the ability to regulate and produce profit from information. Whether one agrees with their approach or not, the site is a useful place to get the full text of major new legislation and critical responses to everthing from the Conference on Fair Use to (U.S.) National Information Infrastructure (NII) bills to the international WIPO agreement. -- RR

Dyson, Esther. "Privacy Protection: Time to Think and Act Locally and Globally" First Monday 3 (6) (1998) ( -- Noted social and technology critic Esther Dyson surveys the current state of privacy on the Internet, examining the interplay of cyberspace and local jurisdictions. While various, "non-central" groups advocate new types of encryption protocols to help us gain a semblance of privacy, different cultures around the globe--and the laws they promulgate--have little common ground. Therefore privacy on the Net is not only a technology issue, but a key issue for global society. -- TH

Williams, Leonard. "Teaching Cyberian Politics" First Monday 3 (6) (1998) ( -- Williams describes his experience in teaching a college course on the "politics of cyberspace"--using Web-based syllabi and other dynamic tools. The close match between the course subject matter and the learning process students employed in using the Web was a powerful combination. Williams argues that the approach he took, with its emphasis on direct experience, boosted students' critical thinking skills about technology and society. -- TH

Multimedia & Hypermedia

National Council on Disability. Access to Multimedia Technology by People with Sensory Disabilities. Washington: The Council, 1998. 86 p. ( -- This report focuses on barriers to the use of computerized multimedia technology by people who have visual or hearing impairments. It's a good source for an overview of what types of problems are encountered and what remedies are in place or coming up. As with most government reports by committee, there's a bit of a lag regarding new technology, but it wasn't intended to be a list of what's cutting edge; rather, it's an attempt to enlighten about the uses of broader categories of technology, like under what circumstances audio description elements can be most appropriate. For policy-watchers, the relevant sections of the Rehabilitation Act and Telecommunications Act are discussed, with recommendations for specific areas needing stronger enforcement. -- JR

Networks & Networking

Boutin, Paul. "Browser Beware" Wired 6.06 (June 1998): 185. ( -- If you're trying to make the best of a 16-bit Windows computer or are fed up with the memory demands of your current browser, a 7-person engineering team from Norway may offer hope with Opera (in Wired's words, "a 1.2-Mbyte marvel"). Opera puts Microsoft and Netscape in their place when it comes to speed and HTML standards compliance. It is also adept at juggling multiple windows, and only requires a 386 with 6 megs of RAM. So have they built a better mousetrap? Well, there are no non-Windows versions currently available and Opera is weaker on support for Unicode 16-bit international character sets, but it does meet the need for speed. Opera 4.0 (with Java and CSS2 style sheet support) is due out this summer and for $35 (less for education customers) can be found at -- LY

Clark, Kathleen A., Priscilla C. Geahigan, Thomas R. Mirkovich, and Anita D. Haynes. "Internet Resources: Cruising for Travel Information" College & Research Libraries News ( 59(6) (June 1998): 427-431. -- Just in time for summer, this month's list of Internet resources looks at travel. Included in the list are addresses for sites that can give you information (mostly oriented to travel in the United States) about accommodations, restaurant guides and other mega travel sites (like Yahoo!'s travel page: Also handy are sites for traveling abroad like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Travel Information ( and the Intellicast World Weather guide ( -- MP

Khare, Rohit, and Rifkin, Adam. "Trust Management on the World Wide Web" First Monday 3 (6) (1998) ( -- The authors describe a new concept for managing sensitive information on the Internet, which encourages open, decentralized systems that span multiple domains. The system, called "trust management," aims to disperse decision-making and analysis about how to protect sensitive data throughout organizations, asking "why" instead of "how." The basic elements of the system are "principles, principals, and policies." Document authoring and distribution is used as a concrete example of how the system would work. -- TH

Mace, Scott. "DSL's Devilish Details" BYTE 23(7) (July 1998): 72-80. -- As any Internet user knows, you can never have too much speed. This is certainly true of home connections. Even with a 56K modem, Web pages never seem to come up fast enough. But now that Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL), or xDSL, or now simply DSL, is on the horizon, at least some relief may be at hand. But as this article points out, what exactly is "at hand" is still very much an open question. Perhaps the most telling evidence of uncertainty in the marketplace is depicted in the chart " ADSL Trials and Service Deployments," which identifies no fewer than 19 companies worldwide offering or soon to be offering ADSL service to a particular region of the world. Virtually all of them are offering a different mix of upstream and downstream speeds, from 9.6 Kbps upstream (this is progress?) to 5.5 Mbps (Singapore) and 7Mbps (Nova Scotia) downstream. Hmmm...all of a sudden cable modems are looking real good to me. -- RT

Sowards, Steven W. "A Typology for Ready Reference Web Sites in Libraries" First Monday 3 (5) (1998) ( -- "Librarians and non-librarians alike may overlook important lessons about information management if they misinterpret the lessons of librarianship as being confined to the realm of paper," the author argues. He embarks on a tour and analysis of how librarians are organizing their Web-based reference guides, so be prepared to add lots of URLs to your bookmark file when you review this article. He makes several conclusions that will surely influence your own thoughts about what works -- and what doesn't -- on the Web. Moreover, it's refreshing to see someone use blunt language to advocate for the common sense approaches that librarians employ to help people. Here's an example: "After the difficulties we meet in navigating relatively large Web sites remind us why libraries -- which deal with truly large numbers of elements, running into the millions -- rely on redundancy and alternative methods to manage content." -- TH


Bales, Susan Nall. "Technology and Tradition: The Future's in the Balance" American Libraries 29(6) (June/July 1998): 82-86. -- Following up on their report Buildings, Books, and Bytes: Libraries and Communities in the Digital Age (see the December 1996 issue of Current Cites), the Benton Foundation has conducted and analyzed six focus groups aimed at the issues identified in that report. Their findings will be released in a publication scheduled for release in July 1998 (watch Current Cites for news of its availability). Meanwhile, Bales shares some of their findings in this article. Among them are: "1) Libraries must be portrayed as high touch and high tech, and in that order, 2) Root all discussions of technology in books and reading, 3) Teach the public that the librarian is an information navigator, 4) Emphasize that the library you trust can help you make the transition to technology, and 5) Recognize the powerful connections Americans make between libraries and effective parenting." Libraries are at a critical juncture between the past and the future. How well librarians meld the traditional with the technical and present themselves to the public will dictate the role of libraries in modern society for decades to come. My advice is to get the original Benton report, this article, the new report when it comes out, read them, and pay close attention. -- RT

DeJesus, Edmund X. "Year 2000 Survival Guide" BYTE 23(7) (July 1998): 52-62. -- In the thorough and authoritative manner in which BYTE readers have come to expect, DeJesus outlines the good, the bad, and the downright ugly aspects of the Year 2000 (Y2K) problem. The bad news is that even if you start right now, your large legacy systems will probably not be ready for the millennium in time. The good news is that you if apply triage strategies and contingency plans well enough, you may just make it. Out of all the press out there on this problem, this article cuts through the rhetoric with a hot knife and summarizes key information in tables, diagrams, and timelines. And it's the timeline that helps provide comic relief amidst the disaster. Just think, on January 1, 29602 the Microsoft Windows NT file system will fail. Better start planning now, Bill. - RT

Smith, K. Wayne, ed. OCLC 1967-1997: Thirty Years of Furthering Access to the World's Information New York: Haworth Press, 1998. -- When library historians review the major milestones of the profession over the last thirty years or so, there will be three developments that will stand head-and-shoulders above the rest: the creation of the Machine Readable Cataloging (MARC) format, the codification of the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, 2nd edition (AACR2), and the rise of the Ohio College Library Center (OCLC, since changed to the Online Computer Library Center). OCLC has evolved to become the hub of library cataloging records, interlibrary loan transactions, and many other essential services for thousands of libraries across the United States and beyond. Although anyone not curious about OCLC would probably not be interested in this volume (simultaneously published as the Journal of Library Administration, 25 (2/3 - 4) (1998), it serves as a useful chronicle of a good idea that helped to transform libraries and library services. -- RT

Current Cites 9(6) (June 1998) ISSN: 1060-2356
Copyright © 1998 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.

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Editor: Teri Andrews Rinne,, (510) 642-8173

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