Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 10, no. 1, January 1999

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

Editor's Note: Commencing with our tenth year of publication, Current Cites will no longer use subject/category headings. As the world of information technology has evolved over the past ten years, it is becoming increasingly difficult, and often times impossible, to assign our citations into one distinct category. More often than not, citations touch upon many categories; for example, a digital library article will often discuss electronic publishing and networking issues as well. We encourage the use of our Bibliography-On-Demand service, ( which enables readers to construct subject-specific bibliographies from the Current Cites database of bibliographic citations.

Buchanan, Leigh. "The Smartest Little Company in America" Inc. 21(1) (January 1999) ( - I recommend the entire January issue of Inc. because it reflects the business world's concern with information overload and how to handle it; this particular article is cited because librarians need to know when they're being appreciated. Amid editorial comments about "taming the info beast" and "the unbearable glutness of being" we have this profile of a corporate librarian who is highly valued for her ability to confront the chaos and extract what's valuable. CEO Duncan Highsmith meets regularly with the librarian, Lisa Guedea Carreno, to draw upon her mastery of information systems and, more importantly, her ability to synthesize and make cognitive connections in ways that no software can. Highsmith felt that he had missed golden opportunities through ignorance of coming trends, and he uses the meetings with his librarian to ensure that never happens again. Developers of "push" personal information programs take note: this woman's skills are the yardstick against which your products will be measured. - JR

Chilvers, Alison and John Feather. "The Management of Digital Data: A Metadata Approach" The Electronic Library 16 (6) (December, 1998): 365-372. - If you're concerned and frustrated about the preservation of digital data, Chilvers and Feather remind you that you are not alone. This article is a preliminary report from their research on the role of metadata in helping organizations effectively preserve data. The authors use a case study approach, conducting semi-structured interviews with key players in the information community (including major data creators, and users in the science and financial services industries, along with libraries and archives). Not surprisingly, the initial interviews reveal that organizations face many challenges as they attempt to achieve long-term preservation of digital data. With little research on the longterm preservation of many digital record types, some key concerns include the variety of metadata formats, the prevalence of embryonic, fragmentary and variable organizational policies, and the lack of trust in 3rd party preservation. Their research also highlights the increased importance of selection mechanisms for long-term preservation. While the authors note that organizational goals drive the parameters for the preservation of digital data, they stress the need for a coordinated approach to metadata (or "super-metadata") which is the ongoing subject of their research. - LY

Doran, Kelly. "Metadata for a Corporate Intranet" Online 23(1) (January 1999) :42-50. - Much of what we read about metadata, at least here in the groves of academe, is on the "megameta" level - policy and standards with a large scope. In contrast, this article is about an application of metadata to solve a common real-life problem: finding anything in an organization's forest of online resources, which sprouted haphazardly over many years. The author is an Electronic Information Specialist at Weyerhauser, which has thousands of employees scattered around the United States and Canada. She describes the development of a plan, a controlled vocabulary and a metadata generator program which data owners use to tag their documents with the HTML <META> tag (not XML; she explains why in a sidebar). Though the text of this article is not offered at the Online website, two related ones are offered there and in the magazine: "Metadata: Cataloging by Any Other Name" ( and "Metadata Projects and Standards" ( Kudos to the editors of Online for including three articles on metadata in a special section devoted to intranets, because it makes the point that without data about your data, you're lost in the woods without a compass. - JR

Guernsey, Lisa. "California State U. Tries to Create a New Way to Buy Online Journals" Chronicle of Higher Education 65 (20) (January 22, 1999): A18. - This article describes California State University's statewide initiative to create a digital library of electronic journals. CSU has announced a request for proposals to attract the attention of large publishers who will bid on the opportunity to provide e-journals. Although CSU hope to be able to "pick and choose," there remains some concern about blanket coverage. For example, even if all offerings from UMI, Gale and Information Access Co. were included, a full 30 percent of the university's journal titles would not be covered. To fill the gap, many smaller licenses would be needed. - TH

Lankes, R. David Building and Maintaining Internet Information Services: K-12 Digital Reference Services Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology, 1998. - This volume is the doctoral dissertation of the co-founder of the famous "AskERIC" service (see, David Lankes. Lankes has been involved with providing digital reference service for some time, and therefore is no stranger to the issues involved. But the usefulness of this volume does not rest on his experiences alone, but the accumulated experiences of many individuals and organizations presently offering digital reference services. Lankes thoroughly surveyed the field, interviewed the practitioners, and mapped their process of question answering. These models of interaction were then boiled down to a standard model for this kind of service. This thorough and thoughtful treatment of this topic will no doubt form the foundation of the literature in this emerging field for some time to come. - RT

Lipow, Anne G. "Serving the Remote User: Reference Service in the Digital Environment" Proceedings of the Ninth Australasian Information Online & On Disc Conference and Exhibition, Sydney, 19-21 January 1999 ( - If you are a librarian, read this keynote speech. If have anything to do with providing library reference service, commit it to memory. Lipow makes a compelling case for rethinking how we provide assistance to library users, and advocates that we should provide reference service to information seekers "at the place where they are when they have a question." The fact that information seekers are increasingly somewhere outside a library when they get stuck is the problem, and Lipow asserts that we must get better -- much better -- at serving their needs. Lipow's perceptions of the problems and the possible solutions she describes have partly emerged from an effort spearheaded by the Library of Congress to address the issue of providing appropriate reference service in a digital environment. Even if you don't agree with her suggested solutions for providing "in-your-face reference service" you owe it to yourself and the profession to consider carefully the implications of not implementing what she (and others) suggest. I have, and I can assure you it isn't pretty. - RT

Proceedings of the Ninth Australasian Information Online & On Disc Conference and Exhibition, Sydney, 19-21 January 1999 ( - The proceedings of this conference are a treasure-trove of reports on interesting projects and think-pieces on important topics (see the citation in this issue for "Serving the Remote User"). Australia is blessed with a cadre of professional librarians on the cutting edge of technological change, and these proceedings exhibit some small part of what they are accomplishing, often with very little attention from the rest of the world. You will also find some presentations from token Americans as well (Anne Lipow, Peter Lyman, Greg Notess, Marydee Ojala, and others). - RT

Stalder, Felix. "Beyond Portals and Gifts: Towards a Bottom-up Net-economy" First Monday 4 (1) (January 4, 1999) ( - Stalder argues that the Internet is a victim of its own promise: the liberation of information. He views the vaguely utopian rhetoric that drives much popular thought about the Internet as "a strange hybrid of 60's progressive libertarianism and 90's aggressive venture capitalism." The slogan "information wants to be free" still shapes the dynamics of online content consumption and production, which has caused Internet portals to shift their revenue strategy from "selling to the audience" to "selling the audience." Moreover, much of the activity that occurs on the Internet is non-economic, such as providing directions or cooking recipes; Stalder regards this kind of activity as fundamentally social, and so it eludes economic formulae and notions. - TH

Current Cites 10(1) (January 1999) ISSN: 1060-2356
Copyright © 1999 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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