Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 10, no. 2, February 1999

Edited by Teri Andrews Rinne

This issue guest edited by Roy Tennant

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

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

Beamish, Rita. "Rescuing Scholars from Obscurity." The New York Times (February 18, 1999): D7. - How to get wider distribution of obscure dissertations? Answer: the Web (of course). This article profiles various enterprises for distributing dissertations including two commercial sites, ( and UMI ( Also profiled is Virginia Polytechnic Institute ( which provide free access to its dissertations and is pushing other schools to join its Networked Library of Digital Dissertations (, which they hope will become a worldwide clearinghouse of dissertations. - MP

Besser, Howard and Robert Yamashita, "The Cost of Digital Image Distribution: The Social and Economic Implications of the Production, Distribution and Usage of Image Data", 1998, ( - "A Mellon Foundation grant was awarded to UC Berkeley to study the costs and benefits of the networked distribution of digital museum information for educational use. This study takes advantage of the existing collaboration between the seven cultural repositories and seven universities that make up the Museum Education Site License Project (MESL), and utilizes professionals from the participating MESL institutions as well as the communications and collaborative structures that MESL established." This is a significant study of the issues involved in creating and delivering digital archives of primary materials in an online environment. The study concentrates on the MESL project, and thus to images and delivery in a campus setting primarily, but many of the issues and findings extend well beyond that. Of particular interest is attention paid to the end-user and demand and use of such databaases. The Executive Summary ( provides a concise 9 page overview of this very detailed study. - RR

Chapman, Stephen, Paul Conway and Anne R. Kenney "Digital Imaging and Preservation Microfilm: The Future of the Hybrid Approach for the Preservation of Brittle Books" RLG DigiNews 3(1) (February 15, 1999) ( - This short piece is a useful summary of the main findings of the full report of the same name, published by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) at in Microsft Word and Adobe Acrobat formats. The purpose of this report is to disseminate information on this hybrid approach to preserving brittle books, and to stimulate further discussion and research into this strategy. Topics covered include the characteristics of microfilm both as a source for, and end product of, digital conversion, the choice of a digital conversion path (film first or scan first), and proposed administrative and structural metadata for the page images. - RT

Dale, Robin. "Lossy or Lossless? File Compression Strategies Discussion at ALA " RLG DigiNews 3(1) (February 15, 1999)( - The American Library Association Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia at the end of January 1999, was the site of a discussion by six experts about the pros and cons of "lossy" and "lossless" compression schemes. Lossless compression schemes can reduce the size of a file without losing any of the information contained within it; lossless schemes sacrifice some data to achieve greater file size savings. The six experts included some of the top people in the field: Carl Fleischhauer from the Library of Congress, Louis Sharpe, III of Picture Elements Inc., Howard Besser from UC Berkeley, Peter Hirtle from Cornell, Joy Paulson of the University of Michigan, and Steven Puglia from the National Archives and Records Administration. The common theme of the remarks are that "it depends". Given one set of circumstances and goals lossless compression is called for (for example, for the preservation of digital masters), while lossy compression is often perfectly acceptable for other situations (for example, for derivative versions to be delivered to the end-user over a computer network). Recommended reading for anyone facing file format decisions for digital images. - RT

"Digital Libraries: Technological Advances and Social Impacts" Computer 32(2) (February 1999). - The focus of this issue of Computer is on digital libraries, with six articles including the introductory piece (from which the special section derives its name) by Bruce Schatz and Hsinchun Chen. Half of the articles are from three of the six NSF-funded Digital Library Initiative projects (Cornell, Stanford, and UIUC), with additional contributions from those working with the JSTOR (journal storage) and New Zealand Digital Library projects. Although most of what is described in these articles comes from the "big science" end of digital libraries, some useful nuggets for the rest of us can be mined. In particular, the JSTOR article -- being more focused on production than research -- is useful in terms of the technical decisions that were made while mounting a massive archive of digital material. - RT

"Digital Library Using Next Generation Internet" IEEE Communications Magazine 37(1) (January 1999). - This special focus on digital libraries includes six articles from various research perspectives, mostly industry (IBM, NEC, etc.), edited by Chung-Sheng Li and Harold S. Stone. Although a few of the articles are somewhat cutting-edge (such as the one on software agents) and unlikely to be of practical use any time soon, others (such as the one focusing on IBM's digital library projects and the one on searching the Web) either relate to projects in production now or technologies that are on the near horizon. All things considered, if you are trying to soak up anything related to digital libraries, go for it. Otherwise, take a pass. - RT

Gessner, Rick. "The Next-Generation Layout Engine: Netscape's Gecko" Web Techniques 4(3) (March 1999):63-70 ( - If this were a puff piece about the latest Netscape technology, you would not be reading about it here in Current Cites. No, you're reading about it here because Gecko is potentially much more. Gecko is being developed under the Open Source model via (, which means pretty much anyone can help work on it, and the benefitd accrue to everyone. A "layout engine" is a piece (or many inter-related pieces) of software that can take an object instance and any associated files (such as style sheets, images, etc.) and render those objects on your screen. At the heart of every Web browser is a layout engine, for example. In fact, differences between layout engines in different Web browsers cause no end of grief for Web authors striving for minute control over the look of their Web pages. As a "next-generation" layout engine, Gecko is aiming to provide full and native support for HTML and XML, cascading style sheets (full CSS1 and partial CSS2), and the Resource Description Framework (RDF). Gessner (a Netscape employee) claims that when Gecko ships, it will be "the fastest, smallest, most standards-compliant HTML layout engine available." We'll see. But meanwhile, don't let the little reptile escape your notice. - RT

Greenstein, Daniel. "Publishing Scholarly Information in a Digital Millenium" Computers and the Humanities (32) 4 (1998): 253-256. - This special issue of Computers and the Humanities features a collection of stories based on a variety of commercial and scholarly forays into electronic publishing. While these four case studies may not top your reading list, Greenstein's preface does provide a good introductory synopsis on the risks, rewards and future directions for electronic publishing. He also has a call to action for the scholarly community: it's time to better articulate requirements (both as consumers and producers) with regard to electronic publications. - LY

Lossau, Norbert and Frank Klaproth, "Digitization Efforts at the Center for Retrospective Digitization, Gttingen University Library" RLG DigiNews 3(1) (February 15, 1999) ( - Detailed technical descriptions of digital imaging projects are rare, which makes this short piece more interesting than it would be if they were not. Those libraries, museums, and archives that are setting up scanning operations are faced with an array of difficult decisions for which there are few guidelines. For anyone in such a position, it can be useful to discover what decisions others in similar situations have made. This piece describes some of those decisions made by the Gttingen University Library, with links to more complete descriptions (including, for example, a description of the metadata elements they insert into the TIFF file header). Anyone interested in the nuts-and-bolts side of digital libraries should take a look at this. - RT

Withers, Rob and Jane F. Sharpe. "Incorporating Internet resources into bibliographic instruction." College & Research Libraries News 60 (February 1999): 75-76. - Some practical tips on incorporating the Internet into bibliographic instruction: don't try to cover everything; instead, identify pertinent topics such as effective searching, evaluating resources, or resources in a particular discipline; have a back-up plan (the age-old "technical difficulties" problem); market your skills to the faculty who may not associate Internet training with the library. Teaching the Internet within the contraints of the traditional instruction section is a challenge and the authors have provided a short, practical checklist of how to do so effectively. - MP

Current Cites 10(2) (February 1999) ISSN: 1060-2356
Copyright © 1999 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.

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