Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 10, no. 4, April 1999

Edited by Teri Andrews Rinne

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

Contributors: Terry Huwe, Margaret Phillips, Jim Ronningen, Roy Tennant, Lisa Yesson

Bilal, Dania, Jeff Barry & W. David Penniman. "A Balancing Act" Library Journal 124(6) (April 1, 1999): 45-54. - This article is LJ's annual picture of the automated systems marketplace. 1998 is depicted as a year of partnerships, and the authors describe the ways in which vendors and customers are working together to address such problems as planning for new interfaces while living with old closed systems, checking for Y2K readiness, and creating Web-based services. After the overview, 27 vendors are profiled. Tables include microcomputer system sales, server-based system sales, academic, school and public library system sales and others. - JR

Coffman, Steve. "Building Earth's Largest Library: Driving Into the Future" Searcher 7(3) (March 1999) ( - Every once in a while an article comes along that sparks your imagination, or provides the missing piece to a puzzle, or spurs a moment of "ah-ha!" insight. For me, this is just such a piece. In this article Coffman paints a compelling vision of a library catalog system that is accessible, convenient, personal, and huge. Using as his inspiration, Coffman wonders why libraries can't band together and do something similar, only better. I can't help thinking the same thing. Sorry, patient Current Cites readers, you're going to have to read this one yourself. I really can't do it justice in one paragraph, and frankly I can't think of any librarian who shouldn't read this. If you think you are such a person, drop me a line. I'd like to know why. - RT

Hedstrom, Margaret and Sheon Montgomery. Digital Preservation Needs and Requirements in RLG Member Institutions Mountain View, CA: Research Libraries Group, December 1998 ( - This study commissioned by the Research Libraries Group (RLG) was to determine the status of digital archiving at its member institutions. Fifty-four libraries responded, and fifteen participated in supplementary interviews. While fully 98% of the responding libraries expect to be preserving digital material by 2001 if they are not doing so already, almost half lack "the capacity to mount, read, or access files on some of the storage media they hold." The service most libraries look to consortia to provide is the development of standards and best practices; third-party vendors, on the other hand, are expected to provide migration and conversion services. The report ends with recommendations based on the findings of the survey for RLG, member institutions, and service providers. - RT

Kiernan, Vincent. "An Ambitious Plan to Sell Electronic Books: University Librarians and Press Officials See Promise and Possible Pitfalls in the Concept" Chronicle of Higher Education 65(32) (April 16, 1999): A27. - A Colorado-based firm is embarking on a venture to sell electronic books to university libraries, and some university press officials say the new program is "the most promising experiment with e-books yet." The product is called netLibrary (, and it already has 2,000 titles on its list. Library officials are quoted in more cautionary tones, but powerful agencies like CARL and OhioLink are charter customers. - TH

Kiernan, Vincent. "Two Big Libraries Abandon Home-Grown Software for Commercial Products" Chronicle of Higher Education April 14, 1999. - This article describes recent developments at the Library of Congress and National Library of Medicine in cataloging policy. Both libraries are shifting their cataloging activity to commercial products, hoping to cut overhead and streamline work processes. Current arrangements at LC can involve searches in as many as three databases to confirm holdings and veracity, so the library is also trying to solve legacy system challenges at the same time it is updating work practices. - TH

Seadle, Michael. "The Raw and the Cooked Among Librarians" Library HiTech 16 (3-4) (1998): 7-11. - In this introduction to Library Hi Tech's special issue on digital libraries, Seadle posits how librarians can use anthropological methods and theories to examine library systems in fresh, new ways. He notes that as our language has yet to catch up to modern technology, we tend to gravitate towards physical metaphors to describe digital artifacts, such as "electronic library." While helpful in their familiarity, these metaphors can skew user expectations and conceal new technology-based capabilities. Seadle's observations are insightful and foreshadow the organizational themes which dominate the electronic text and information technology center profiles in this article series. - LY

Stokes, John R. "Imaging Pictorial Collections at the Library of Congress" RLG DigiNews 3(2) (April 15, 1999) ( - The Library of Congress is one of the few institutions that has the resources to outsource the digitization of a quarter of a million images. But nonetheless, this account of such a project will likely be fascinating to anyone who digitizes pictorial material. Judging from the accompanying photographs, a phenomenal amount of work was accomplished in what appears to be a space not much larger than an elongated closet. But what is most fascinating are the decisions that were made along the way and the reasons for them. There is little enough of this kind of nitty-gritty information around, so digital librarians (and those who aspire) should take a good look. - RT

Stubbs, Walter and Eric Wettstein. "U.S. GPO CD-ROMS: Blessing or Curse?" Journal of Government Information 26(2) (March/April 1999): 131-163. - Federal legislators see it as a painless method of streamlining government, and librarians know what headaches it can cause: the push for a more electronic Depository Library System has resulted in a Tower of Babel of Government Printing Office CD-ROMs. The authors surveyed 205 federal depository libraries in 1996, with a lengthy questionnaire about 156 CD-ROM titles. The statistics derived can't be seen as overwhelmingly conclusive about much of anything, because only 70 usable responses were received, and a lot has changed in three years. However, this study sheds light on what librarians found useful, why some disks were avoided like the plague, and if and when the Web was preferred. Particular attention is paid to the advantages and disadvantages of the many varieties of enabling software required to run these disks. Comments from depository librarians are included. - JR

Weibel, Stuart. "The State of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative, April 1999" D-Lib Magazine 5(4) (April 1999) ( - The effort to define a basic set of metadata elements for Internet resource discovery has been ongoing for years. In this report, the leader of the Dublin Core effort describes the current state of affairs and identifies six areas where participants are currently focusing their efforts. The six areas are: formalization of a process for the Dublin Core, standardization, HTML encoding, qualification mechanisms, the role of RDF, and relationships to other metadata models. For those wanting to follow this effort, either as an observer or a participant, the references for this piece point to some essential current resources. - RT

Young, Jeffrey R. "Three Research Libraries Plan Vast New Facility to Store Little-Used Books" Chronicle of Higher Education April 6, 1999. - Columbia, The New York Public Library and Princeton are pooling resources to build a single off-site storage facility in the Bronx, and it will be a big one. This article describes the project, which is cast as a defining moment in inter-university collaboration on a very large scale. Princeton's provost makes several insightful comments about library planning, to wit, "In the past, [collection development] has been an area where many universities sought to compete, rather than cooperate with each other to provide the very best service." Other joint initiatives, such as digitization of material, may follow in time. - TH

Current Cites 10(4) (April 1999) ISSN: 1060-2356
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Editor: Teri Andrews Rinne,, (510) 642-8173

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