Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 11, no. 6, June 2000

Edited by Teri Andrews Rinne

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356 - http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/2000/cc00.11.6.html

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

Adam, Nabil R., Vijayalakshmi Atluri, Igg Adiwijaya. "SI in Digital Libraries" Communications of the ACM 43(6) (June 2000): 64-72 (http://www.acm.org/pubs/articles/journals/cacm/2000-43-6/p64-adam/p64-adam.pdf) . - Digital libraries today can be characterized as bundles of multiple, heterogeneous information sources, with differing schema for storage, organization and access. This article provides conceptualizing strategies for planners who must achieve system integration (SI) at the user interface. Specific issues addressed include the nature of data structure and quantity of data, frequent modification of data sources, multimedia and the variety of user patterns and capabilities. Three popular integration methods are described: Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA), mediators and agents, with the caveat given that "these three approaches are not orthogonal in the sense that a mediator may employ CORBA and an agent may use mediators." The application of solution schemes in the digital libraries of Stanford, University of Illinois and University of Michigan is described, and the authors also detail their own work on DigiTerra, an environmental digital library at Rutgers. - JR

Arms, Caroline R. "Keeping Memory Alive: Practices for Preserving Digital Content at the National Digital Library Program of the Library of Congress" RLG DigiNews 4(3) (June 15, 2000) (http://www.rlg.org/preserv/diginews/diginews4-3.html). - It is likely that the Library of Congress is overseeing the single largest library digitization effort on the planet (producing over 14GB of new digital files per workday). And what luck for the rest of us -- they frequently share what they learn, the processes they create, the best practices they set, and even their Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to digitization vendors (see http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ftp files.html). In this article Caroline Arms continues her tradition of promulgating information vital to those attempting similar projects (for example, see other articles of hers cited in Current Cites). In this case she describes LC efforts at preserving the digital material that LC is creating while building a National Digital Library. Of particular use is a chart that briefly describes all the current accepted digital preservation methods, all of which may be logically employed in the course of preserving any particular item or to recover an item that hasn't been properly preserved by using these methods. - RT

Baker, Angee. "The Impact of Consortia on Database Licensing" Computers in Libraries 20(6) (June 2000): 47-50. - The author is the director of electronic information services at the Southeastern Library Network (SOLINET), and as such has negotiated deals for consortia and individual libraries in a ten-state region. Confronted with the thicket of problems arising from difficult pricing models, the growing need for cost-recovery by libraries, cost-allocation between members and overlapping consortial interests, she still (amazingly enough) has faith that coordination is always possible and that consortia, libraries, publishers and aggregators can cooperate and make progress with interests in common. Her observations and strategies make worthwhile reading for anyone who is trying to keep up with the collection development of electronic sources. That's the theme of the June issue, so look for many valuable related articles as well. - JR

Beebe, Linda and Barbara Myers. "Digital Workflow: Managing the Process Electronically" JEP: The Journal of Electronic Publishing 5(4) (June 2000) (http://www.press.umich.edu/jep/05-04/sheridan.html). - The digital revolution is altering publishing no less than it is altering libraries. What publishers do every day to add value to submitted content, package it, distribute it, market it, and archive it, is undergoing massive change. This article, which was originally written as a "white paper" for Sheridan Press, does an excellent job of describing the new digital workflow. The narrative is interspersed with boxes that define and describe each step in the digital publication process. A glossary is included. - RT

Bolt, Nate. "The Binary Proletariat" First Monday 5(5) (May 2000) (http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue5_5/bolt/). - Bolt deconstructs the glittering promise of a "dot.com" lifestyle and finds some familiar problems for the working class: longer hours, more stress, and other dirty little secrets. Taking familiar paths to analyze capitalism in the digital era, he has provided an interesting perspective on the essentially unreformed capitalism of the "new economy." Some of this material will be familiar to readers because of the great deal of attention that the "new economy" is receiving, but it's presented in readable and entertaining style. - TH

Burnard, Lou. "Text Encoding for Interchange: A New Consortium" Ariadne 24 (June 2000) (http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue24/tei/) - In this article, Burnard gives a brief history of the TEI Initiative and how it grew, specifically, how it has evolved into a full-fledged consortium under the collective aegis of Oxford, UVA, Brown University and the University of Bergen in Norway. To quote a bit of the mission statement: "The goal of the new TEI Consortium is to establish a permanent home for the TEI as a democratically constituted, academically and economically independent, self-sustaining, non-profit organization." The TEI standard has been adopted by a host of American, British and EU institutions such as the NEH, the MLA and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Board, and has established itself as the standard of choice for the production of online scholarly texts, reference works, and editions in the humanities. The materials and tools (e.g. the handy Pizza Chef DTD generator), which have been served off the UIC website, will soon be moved to a new location (http://www.tei-c.org). At the time of writing he offered a preview at http://www.hcu.ox.ac.uk/TEI/ , but the tei-c.org site is already well under way. - LM

"Content and Publishing" Webtechniques (July 2000) (http://www.webtechniques.com/archives/2000/07/). The feature topic of the July 2000 issue of Webtechniques is Content and Publishing, from which I am singling out two related articles on using XML to facilitate content creation, management and delivery. In "Separating Body from Soul: XML Makes Changing Easy" (http://www.webtechniques.com/archives/2000/07/floyd/), Michael Floyd offers an excellent primer on how to set up an XML document delivery system on an existing infrastructure that uses a web server as the delivery system, a database for storing some information, XML documents for storing other information, and seeks to serve up output to any sort of browser. He gives an ingredient list of the basic components: XML parser, XSL processor, document repository, a collection of document schema, and a collection of XSL stylesheets. He then launches into some detail in presenting three different gateways for serving up dynamic XML pages, whether through CGI, Java Servlets or ASP. As the title hints, by using ASP and the Rocket XML framework, Floyd claims to do the Cartesian split one better, with the separation of data from processing logic and HTML presentation. The article concludes with a discussion of some packaged solutions, including DataChannel, Vignette, StoryServer, and Poet's CMS (Content Management Suite). Once you've transformed your infrastructure, Peter Fischer explains how to convert all those HTML files into something that can be served up in an XML environment in "Migrating from HTML to XML" (http://www.webtechniques.com/archives/2000/07/fischer/). Whether you decide to take the intermediary step of cleaning up your HTML to conform to the XHTML standard, or decide to take the leap right into XML, tools are becoming more readily available to help in the endeavor, from the freeware tools such as HTML Tidy or (the more user-friendly) HTML-Kit for XHTML conversion, to XSpLit from Percussion Software for XML. - LM

Elliott, Laura, "How the Oxford English Dictionary Went Online" Ariadne 24 (June 2000) (http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue24/oed-tech/) - It seems I can't forego citing yet another interesting article in Ariadne on the online OED, this time: a technical look under the hood. Elliott shares a few more details about the markup history of the dictionary in its various avatars, and the java-enabled, Sybase-powered machinations of their partner Highwire Press. This article appears to be in some sense an apologia for the simplicity or economy of the final interface: there are no plugins, special fonts, or browser-tweaking, etc. required to render special characters; and behind the scenes lies a rather simple DTD. For those who still weigh the feasibility of the use of gifs for special characters over Unicode (and lean towards the former), she has a short success story. And for those who are wondering what the tab might have been for this glorious undertaking, you'll find the skinny on the cost. - LM

Guernsey, Lisa. "The Library As the Latest Web Venture" New York Times (June 15, 2000): Section G, p.1. - Focusing on NetLibrary.com, Ebrary.com and Questia media this article looks at electronic library projects. Unlike the budding electronic book market which focuses on downloading to handheld devices these players are concentrating on the scholarly market represented by institutions such as libraries. At the moment there are a limited number of titles available, a mixture of titles from the public domain and those that are copyrighted. NetLibrary has around 18,000 copyrighted books while Ebrary.com claims to have 130,000 in its demonstration database. The economic model for these vendors varies somewhat. Users can sometimes search the database and then only subscribers can view book's pages, or viewing online is free but the users is charged for printing or downloading. As the article points out this is mixing the traditional roles of libraries and bookstores. It therefore brings up issues of access to lower income users and the role of libraries in an increasingly commercialized information universe. - ML

Hughes, Carol Ann. "Lessons Learned: Digitization of Special Collections at the University of Iowa Libraries" D-Lib Magazine 6(6) (June 2000) (http://www.dlib.org/dlib/june00/hughes/06hughes.html"). - Creating digital library collections is still at an early enough stage that descriptions of projects and the lessons learned from them are important and useful for anyone else considering such a project. Hughes' description of a Library of Congress/Ameritech funded project to digitize a variety of materials relating to the Chatauqua Movement of the early 20th century is one such useful account. The straightforward description of the project is peppered with "lessons learned" that document the ups-and-downs of a project that, as is the case with many first projects, entailed a good deal of learning as you go. The more of these accounts we have, the less lessons the rest of us will have to learn the hard way. - RT

Kresh, Diane Nester. "Offering High-Quality Reference Service on the Web: The Collaborative Digital Reference Service (CDRS)" D-Lib Magazine 6(6) (June 2000) (http://www.dlib.org/dlib/june00/kresh/06kresh.html). - Online digital reference service has been the topic of a lot of recent online discussion, meetings at the American Library Association, and proposals of various kinds -- regional, national, and transnational. One of the projects with the most promise is being led and coordinated by the Library of Congress, which this article outlines. The basic idea is to coordinate a global digital reference network that would allow libraries to provide 24x7 online reference service to their clientele. The Library of Congress and a small group of collaborating libraries began testing this model in March 2000. Countries represented in this initial pilot included the United States, Australia, and Canada. The types of libraries involved included public libraries, academic libraries, national libraries, an art museum library, and a regional library cooperative. The second pilot began June 19 and will run for a month, with the third pilot beginning in August. Following this pilot period, the project will officially launch on October 1, 2000. Anyone interested in providing online reference service would do well to follow this project closely. - RT

Miller, Brent I. "Recent Lessons from the Courts: The Changing Landscape of Copyright in a Digital Age" RLG DigiNews 4 (2) (April 15, 2000) (http://www.rlg.org/preserv/diginews/diginews4-2.html#feature) - Miller highlights and clearly explains two recent cases, The Bridgeman Art Library LTD v. Corel Corp and Kelly v Arriba Soft that have important implications for managing digital collections. In Bridgeman the court considered whether color transparencies of public domain art work has a sufficient level of originality to be copyrightable. The court decided that they do not have the requisite degree of originality and that the unauthorized use of the reproductions does not violate copyright law. This obviously has implications for libraries who have digital collections, but the Bridgeman decision concerns two dimensional works as opposed to three dimensional objects, which may involve greater "originality." In addition the court did not address issues of copyright protection for compilations, in other words an institution's copyright interest in the selection, arrangement and coordination of a digital collection. In the Arriba Soft case the issue revolved around whether a "visual search engine" was fair use. The search engine allowed users to retrieve thumbnail images as well as a full-size version of images by providing a link to the site where the image resided. The court held that Arriba Soft's actions constituted fair use of the images. For those managing digital image collections it would seem to reinforce the presumption that reproduction and distribution of images constitute fair use. On the other hand it would "arguably insulate those who use the contents of digital image collections for clearly 'commercial' purposes from infringement liability." While this is still an unsettled area of copyright law it is indicative of a gradual direction or trend. - ML

Nardi, Bonnie A., Steve Whittaker, and Heinrich Schwarz. "It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know: Work in the Information Age" First Monday 5 (5) (May, 2000) (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue5_5/nardi/). - The authors describe their ethnographic research on personal social networks in the workplace. They argue that traditional institutional resources are being replaced by resources that workers mine from their own networks. They conclude that while "lean" and "flexible" organizations bring many benefits, there are unexpected influences at play — namely, throwing employees on their own to find the "real" way things get done. Less institutional stability and fewer corporate resources have made workers more self-reliant, and they are responding by cultivating their own networks of contacts instead of consulting the "organizational chart." - TH

Zick, Laura. "The Work of Information Mediators: A Comparison of Librarians and Intelligent Software Agents" First Monday 5(5) (May, 2000) (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue5_5/zick/). - The author evaluates the characteristics of information agency, the work of librarians and of intelligent agents as information mediators. Her objective is to determine whether it is possible, or even advisable, to replace the analytical role of information specialists with automated routines. A particularly bright spot in this outstanding analysis is the author's call for a reasoned, well-substantiated debate over the relative merits of person-to-person interaction — reference — versus person-to-software interaction. She finds that all too often, the discussion of new technologies and their impact on library work disregards the fundamental value and vitality of the culture of reference. - TH


Current Cites 11(6) (June 2000) ISSN: 1060-2356
Copyright © 2000 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.

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