Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 10, no. 12, December 1999

Edited by Teri Andrews Rinne

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

Contributors: Terry Huwe, Michael Levy, Leslie Myrick, Margaret Phillips, Jim Ronningen, Lisa Rowlison, Roy Tennant, Lisa Yesson

Arms, William Y. "Preservation of Scientific Serials: Three Current Examples" Journal of Electronic Publishing 5(2) (December 1999) ( - Arms, current Editor-in-Chief of D-Lib Magazine, ( offers three case studies that explore the capabilities and efforts of three digital publications to meet the challenges of preserving digital resources into the next millennium. The ACM Digital Library, the Internet RFC series, and D-Lib Magazine were selected as representative paradigms displaying significant variations in organizational stability and technical specs for the storage and delivery of data. Arms examines the feasibility of three commonly cited levels of preservation: conservation (full look and feel of the scientific article and journal as an artifact), preservation of access (maintenance of the material and an effective system of access through indexing, metadata, etc.), and preservation of content (warehoused articles with minimal metadata). The ultimate question is, to whom will the responsibility of preservation fall: publishers? not-for-profit institutions, such as university libraries? charitable foundations? national archives? Arms envisions a period of initial active management by publishers, followed by preservation by another body, perhaps the Library of Congress. The ideal solution will no doubt arise from a partnership amongst the scientific community, publishers, and libraries. - LM

Breeding, Marshall. "Does the Web Spell Doom for CD and DVD?" Computers in Libraries 19(10) (November/ December 1999) ( - Breeding states boldly that the trend is "an unmistakable migration away from CD-ROM-based products toward web-based information resources accessed via the Internet." When CD-ROMs first gained wide use in the library world, the user was faced with having to use and learn different search protocols for each product running on individual PCs. The appearance of CD-ROM networks allowed for multiple access but users still faced the problem of multiple search interfaces and the difficulty of installation and maintenance. Now the web environment uses a model of information whereby the database is stored on a centralized server via the Internet or even on locally based servers. This is much easier for libraries who can build a standard network around TCP/IP - there is no need for proprietary software, installation or updating of CDs. In addition the move to web-based catalogs allows for greater integration of electronic resources, indexes, abstracts and full-text databases. Finally, while search interfaces do differ there is a certain homogeneity because of web-based approach. Breeding makes a number of predictions. Libraries will not be installing large scale CD-ROM networks but using a miniserver approach; as "the web is the ubiquitous approach for providing access to library resources to remote users" even non-web based resources will be accessed via web-launching applications. CDs and DVDs will only be used a distribution medium with DVD gradually becoming the standard, and vendors will themselves move away from these formats to FTP for updating. Breeding suggests diversifying servers so that heavily used databases are on local intranet servers in order to offer better performance. - ML

Carvajal, Doreen. "Racing to Convert Books to Bytes" New York Times (December 9, 1999): C1; C27. - In this informative overview of the trend within publishing to producing digital books, Carvajal highlights the example of the University of Texas at Austin. The University has a $1 million budget for digital books and a collection of 600 titles with access to over 5000 titles via consortiums. There are digital readers that allow users to download electronic titles and in the near future users will be able to create their own customized versions of books. Random House is attempting to digitize it's entire backlist of 20,000 titles, while Simon & Schuster is formatting all new books in digital form and starting on it's own backlist. Various European publishers have announced that they will produce electronic books that can be read in Microsoft's upcoming Microsoft Reader software, and journal publishers are joining together to allow electronic links between citations. As it is difficult for new publishers in the burgeoning field to get hold of titles much expansion has been with public domain titles. One publisher, NetLibrary is outsourcing data entry to countries such as China and India and then marketing to major libraries to buy electronic collections. There are still some doubts about whether this will be a successful venture on the part of publishers. At the moment most ebooks are the same price as print counterparts and all companies are grappling with the problem of whether readers will warm to these formats with many banking on the younger digital generation leading the charge. - ML

Conservation Implications of Digitization Projects National Digital Library Program and the Conservation Division, Library of Congress. Washington: Library of Congress, 1999 ( - This report largely describes the procedures followed by the Library of Congress to ensure the proper handling of materials when digitizing. Given the wide diversity of material types digitized by LC, as well as the volume of materials handled and the length of time LC has been doing this kind of activity, this information on how LC does it can be extremely valuable to those with less experience. Appendix I is a handout used for an in-house course, and is available separately at Appendices II and III are promised shortly, and will be listed at when they are available. - RT

Dutton, William H., Anita Elberse and Matthew Hale. "A Case Study of a Netizen's Guide to Elections" Communications of the ACM 42(12) (December, 1999) - The horserace metaphor for an election brings to mind this homily: you can lead 'em to water, but you can't make 'em drink. For the 1998 California gubernatorial primary, voters could dip into the Democracy Network (, a much deeper well of candidate info than what was available from traditional sources. This case study describes the construction of the site, the methods of gathering content, and the patterns of use. It was a wonderful resource for people who cared enough to research the issues, but of course its impact on voters' decision-making process was small compared to the effect of broadcast media. As one campaign manager put it, "It is going to come down to potentially who the voters like better, character and personality... commercials, and quick sound bite flashes, show what kind of people they are." However, in the usage patterns the authors do see some encouraging signs: the increase in focused searches during the week prior to the election could indicate good use of the site for making informed choices. The study is valuable for those of us who assist with research in politics and government, but it's also of interest to anyone pondering the effects of the Internet on information-seeking behavior. - JR

Graham, Margaret E. "The Description and Indexing of Images: Report of a Survey of ARLIS Members, 1998/99" Newcastle: Institute for Image Data Research, University of Northumbria at Newcastle, May 1999 ( - This report comes out of an effort led by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) of the Higher Education Funding Councils in the UK to study the efficacy of content-based image retrieval (CBIR, see the report cited in the September 1999 issue of Current Cites and the web site at To support that work, it was decided to survey current practice for indexing images among institutional members of the Art Libraries Society (UK). The findings of that survey, conducted from November 1998 to January 1999, are summarized here. Anyone interested in current practice in indexing images will find this report useful, with one caveat. Despite the fact that typically only about 25% of the respondents felt that CBIR might be useful to any degree whatsoever, they nonetheless put an overly positive light on that finding by basically ignoring the overwhelming majority who answered "Don't Know" or "No Response" (accounting for over 60% of the responses in most cases). - RT

Guernsey, Lisa. "The Web: New Ticket to a Pink Slip" New York Times (December 16 1999): D1, D8, D9. - Guernsey highlights recent trends in workplace surveillance. 40 employees of Xerox were recently fired for surfing to "forbidden" web sites at work. They were caught because Xerox, and numerous other large corporations, are using specialized software such as Spector or Websense to monitor employees computer use. Approximately 45% of employers use a variety of monitoring techniques whether of phone calls, email or computer use. Their argument is that this is necessary to clamp down on time wasted by employees and also to stop employees from creating a potentially hostile environment for their fellow workers. The monitoring of workers has a long history in US labor relations but the Internet has added a whole new area for management intrusion. While there are some laws, mostly concerning wiretapping, that offer some protection to workers, this is an unsettled area of the law. There are some cases of employees arguing that their privacy rights have been invaded by electronic monitoring but none thus far have reached a jury. Many privacy groups are arguing that workers have greater expectation privacy rights in the workplace than employers are willing to recognize. In a sidebar "What Employers Can View at Work" Guernsey outlines some parameters of worker privacy. As she starkly states "most employees should not consider their office email to be private, nor should they assume that their employers are not looking at logs of web sites they have visited." - ML

Harnad, Stevan. Free at Last: The Future of Peer-Reviewed Journals" D-Lib Magazine 5(12) (December 1999) ( - Harnad has long been a vocal advocate of using networking technologies to free scholarly communication from standard publishing models. In his most recent argument for such a change, published by D-Lib Magazine as an opinion piece (for which they also take pains to absolve themselves of any implied support), he advocates methods by which authors of scholarly works can "self-archive" their work. If such local archives follow the emerging conventions of the Open Archives Initiative (, then the resulting interoperability would enable users to easily locate a specific paper in whatever archive it is stored. This, Harnad asserts, is inevitable -- all that is required is that universities (and more specifically, the librarians working there) rise to the challenge of implementing the appropriate infrastructures and support mechanisms for authors. Interestingly enough, some universities are rising to the challenge. One such example is the Electronic Scholarship initiative of the California Digital Library of the University of California. - RT

Heckart, Ronald J. "Imagining the Digital Library in a Commercialized Internet" The Journal of Academic Librarianship 25:4 (July 1999):274-280. - In this thought provoking article, Heckart considers the ripe technologies of artificially intelligent navigational tools, interactive (personalized) technologies, and user data collection and analysis in the context of digital libraries. Of particular interest is Heckart's consideration of the user's expectations for such technologies and tools in the library setting based on their commercial Internet experiences. His thoughts on the meaning of a balance between user privacy and service brings to light a major digital library issue. The article is an excellent example of "informed speculation" and bears a thorough read for anyone doing digital library planning or brainstorming. - LR

Kelly, Henry. "Information Technology and the Environment: Choices and Opportunities" iMP Magazine (Information Impacts Magazine) (October 1999) ( - Serving as the Assistant Director for Technology in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Kelly discusses environmental impact of information technology and presents areas for possible resource savings when developing, manufacturing, and choosing information technologies. Kelly's article presents the relationship between economic growth and reduced natural resource consumption in terms of three fundamental features: intelligent production processes, intelligent design of products, and intelligent operation of products. While libraries may not often concern their technology use with the fate of natural resources, there is room for us to play a responsible role in the planning, creation and implementation of resource efficient information technologies. - LR

Lieb, Thom. "Looking Good" The Journal of Electronic Publishing 5(2) (December 1999) ( - This article examines in a nutshell the sad plight of electronic publishers caught up in the struggle to produce uniform pages in spite of browsers' variations in supporting Java and Javascript, frames, style sheets, dynamic HTML (DHTML) and tables, to name the most obvious landmines in "the Browser Wars." He also covers a number of publishing-specific problems issuing for the most part from differences in platform: offset, text size, tracking and leading. Monitors also join the fray, as the source of problems relating to canvas size. But, he cautions, even when all external adversaries in the Browser and Platform Wars have been vanquished, bad output may simply come down to bad coding, concerning which some browsers are more lenient than others. In the end, the best advice is the most obvious: Lieb advocates using a code validator, adhering to the lowest common denominator in terms of presentation, and giving more weight to content. - LM

Miller, Rush G. and Peter X. Zhou. "Global Resource Sharing: A Gateway Model" The Journal of Academic Librarianship 25(4) (July 1999):281-287. - Miller and Zhou share the success of the University of Pittsburgh's Gateway Service Center of Chinese Academic Journal Publications. The project implements the gateway model for global resource sharing, by bringing together several academic libraries from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong to establish a protocol of document delivery of Chinese journal publications for U.S. researchers. Challenged by distance, language, political climate and copyright issues, the project has been quite successful and has demonstrated that the necessary protocols, agreements and other complex negotiations required for global resource sharing are not impossible to establish. The Gateway Service Center of Chinese Academic Journal Publications may be accessed at - LR

Mühlberger, Günter. "Digitisation of Newspaper Clippings: The LAURIN Project" RLG DigiNews 3(6) (December 15, 1999) ( - Much of the most practical digital library developments are coming from Europe, and a case in point is the project described in this report. The LAURIN project ( of the European Commission (launched in 1998) brings together seventeen partners from seven European countries to develop an infrastructure to support the digitization and management of newspaper clippings. One of the outcomes of the project has been the development of libClip, a software application that semi-automates the process of digizitizing a particular clipping, analyzing the article layout, recognizing the characters on the page (OCR), and metadata capture. The development of this software dramatically increases the efficiency of this type of procedure. They promise that a full trial version of the software will be available at their web site by the time this issue of Current Cites is published. - RT

Current Cites 10(12) (December 1999) ISSN: 1060-2356
Copyright © 2000 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.

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