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Digital libraries - what are they? | Digital library research register | DLs in Europe | DLs in the US | DLs worldwide | DL research | DLs and multimedia courseware | Cultural heritage R & D | JISC National Electronic Resource | Resources | General | Imaging | Papers and articles

Digital libraries - what are they?

Digital libraries (DLs) aim to provide: "digital delivery of multimedia information in a distributed communications environment". They are complex information systems which augment their physical counterparts by extending the potential use and exploitation of the information resource.

Technologies and techniques required for building, maintaining and using digital libraries span all the subjects that are encompassed in Information Engineering, and hence this website (see: the topic page for a list of technologies).

It was apparent that there is a strong correlation between various "domains" in the electronic publishing sphere. For example whilst digital libraries and cultural heritage (digital museums, art galleries) are often seen as separate domains, the general technical requirements and constraints for building usable systems are very similar. The differences in approach to developing systems for each tends to lie in the detail relating to the information mix. Art galleries, for example, are image intensive and will place far greater emphasis on the very considerable problems associated with image processing. Libraries on the other hand, being document intensive, will place emphasis on text-based applications. Many of the common problems relating to the various domains eg. metadata, IPR and economic issues could be tackled collectively, across domains.

Digital libraries specifically demand a distributed system architecture, structured digital documents, collaboration support, human-computer interaction, information filtering and presentation. These are supported by the full range of generic technologies that make up electronic publishing, and include many non-technical issues such as intellectual property rights (IPR).

The complexity of digital libraries arises due the potential demands made on the digital resources by users. Users are not simply defined, as they often fall into a number of groups with very different information requirements. For example, access to the digital information resource (or library) may be required by administrators, professional researchers and end users (often characterised as the general public). It is easy to see that the information requirements, and hence the tools and systems required for each of these groups, to maximise the potential of a digital resource, are very different. It seems apparent from current research that the option of providing a single digital system to meet the requirements of all these groups is neither possible, or probably, desirable. It seems appropriate therefore, when considering developments in the "digital libraries" domain that account is taken of the user of the system, as they should be the strongest influence in the specific technologies and techniques implemented.

Currently, the the demand for systems is strongest from the professional scientific research community, with a particular emphasis on international collaboration, but these systems will not provide the infrastructure for other user groups.

Digital libraries will provide some of the infrastructure for the distributed environment required by the Information Society. The techniques and tools under development, particularly in the area of information retrieval, will be of benefit to a number of the domains making up the information society including education, cultural (museums), healthcare, and public administration.

Recent developments in establishing digital libraries are demonstrated by The California Digital Library (CDL) which has recently opened its web site, providing access to the browseable and searchable Directory of Collections and Services. It provides unified access to electronic journals, databases, and to finding aids in the Online Archive of California. In addition, it provides links to many abstracting and indexing databases, directing users to lists of resources or directly to electronic journals.

URL: http://www.cdlib.org/

Digital library research register

Are you currently working on some research or a project? Would you like to tell your colleagues in the library community about it? Whether your work is a demonstrator project, action research, organisation-based or more fundamental, peers would benefit from your experiences; and you could benefit from theirs.

MCB University Press is offering the unique opportunity to register your research on their Library and Information Services Internet Research Register.  MCB are hoping that the register will build up into an invaluable resource, enabling the history of research in a particular field to be tracked. The register focuses on bottom-line research-into-practice and aims to allow the user to:

Further information from the site below. 22/12/00

URL: http://www.literaticlub.co.uk/research/registers.html

DLs in Europe

UKOLN provides a wealth of resources and articles on current R&D in the area of DLs.

URL: http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/

UK libraries policy document

The UK's Library and Information Commission (LIC) have launched a new National Information Policy document. The preamble to the report claims that Britain is closer to becoming an information society, but still lacks the overall policy and coordination that will add value to the various initiatives that are taking place. The full text of the document: "Keystone or the Information Age: a National Information Policy for the UK" is available on the web.

Public and educational libraries should break down the barriers between them and work together to improve services to users according to "Empowering the Learning Community", the LIC Education & Libraries Task Group report, which was launched by LIC Chair Mark Wood at the LIC's conference "Keystone for the Information Age"' on March 16, 2000.

Hard copies of both reports are also available from Henry Girling at LIC. 21/03/00

URL: "Keystone or the Information Age" http://www.lic.gov.uk/publications/policyreports/keystone.html
URL: "Empowering the Learning Community" http://www.lic.gov.uk/publications/policyreports/empower/index.html
URL: Henry Girling mailto:henry.girling@lic.gov.uk

Russian-British Digital Libraries Workshop

There is a short "unofficial report" on the Russian-British Digital Libraries Workshop, held in Moscow on June 16-17, 1999 which, according to the author, could form the foundations of a new bilateral programme. The report is on the web where there is also a link to the official event site, and the "official" proceedings.

URL: http://www.sbu.ac.uk/litc/lt/1999/news1532.html

Visual Arts Data Service

The Visual Arts Data Service which provides, preserves and promotes digital resources for the visual arts community has announced the launch of a redesigned web site. The site offers:

Planned future additions to the site include: on-line feedback forms, news pages , data creators checklist, VADS PICTIVA (Promoting the Use of On-line Image Collections in Learning & Teaching in the Visual Arts) Project, and new collections including: 10 collections from the JISC Image Digitisation Initiative (JIDI), totalling around 25,000 images.

URL: VADS http://vads.ahds.ac.uk/
URL: Guide to Good Practice http://vads.ahds.ac.uk/guides/creating_guide.html
URL: TASI http://www.tasi.ac.uk/
URL: JIDI http://www.ilrt.bris.ac.uk/jidi/

Archaeology digital library

The Archaeology Data Service in the UK has announced the opening of its Digital Library. Already on the shelves you will find:

The service is requesting parties that work in the archaeology sector: to archive digital copies at the library; and also to provide feedback on the digital library as it is currently implemented. 21/03/00

URL: http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/

DLs in the US

In 1995, the IEEE Computer Society established the Task Force on digital libraries as a first step leading to a full-fledged Technical Committee. The task force was established to promote research in the theory and practice of all aspects of digital libraries. The task force sponsors activities that benefit its members and the profession. Such activities include sponsoring and co-sponsoring symposia, sessions in large conferences, tutorials, and a newsletter.

URL: http://cimic3.rutgers.edu/ieee_dltf.html

Information on the development of digital libraries in the US can be found at the digital libraries R&D home page. Information is also available on the IBM digital library site, which also points to some examples of digital libraries.

URL: digital libraries R&D http://www.dlib.org/dlib.html
URL: IBM digital libraries http://www.ibm.park.org/digital.html

DLs worldwide

A report on Australian views is entitled: "Electronic publishing: Library and archival issues".

URL: http://www.adfa.oz.au/Epub/key/Library.html

DL research

E-library research register

MCB University Press is offering research projects, with particular application in the library sector, with the opportunity to register their research on their Library and Information Services Internet Research Register. MCM plan to build up the register to provide a resource, enabling the history of research in a particular field to be tracked.

MCB is looking for contributions from projects ranging from demonstrators, action research, organisation-based and fundamental - enabling the register to provide bottom-line research-into-practice.  It will allow the user to:

For further details of the register and its editorial objectives, visit the site below. Research can be registered on the site by completing an online questionnaire. 26/09/00

URL: http://www.literaticlub.co.uk/research/registers.html

European Academic Subject Gateway

The Renardus project is being funded under the EU's User-friendly Information Society programme.  Its aim is to build a single service allowing users to search and browse existing Internet-accessible resource collections distributed across Europe.

Between January 2000 and June 2002, the project will investigate technical, information and organisational issues, build a pilot system and develop a fully-operational service. The partners believe that Renardus will be of interest to those involved in the development and running of subject gateway initiatives, interoperability issues and related standards and technologies.

The project web site includes details of work in progress, and you can also sign-up to receive a copy of an email newsletter issued every two months.  The site also provides details of, and individual links to, each of the participating European subject gateways and many other related projects, services and events. Partners in Renardus are drawn from national libraries, university research and technology centres and subject gateways Europe-wide. 18/04/00

URL: http://www.renardus.org/

Digital library, usability

The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) and the Oxford University Press (OUP) are involved in a joint project to study digital book use and its impact on teaching, learning, and book sales. The project plans to examine and evaluate:

Further, more detailed information, is available on the project web site. 14/04/00

URL: http://digital.library.upenn.edu/

Directory of Digitized Collections

The Scout Report newsletter of April 7, 2000 has a new item that may be of particular interest to El.pub readers. The newsletter is a free e-zine published by the Internet Scout Project run by the University of Wisconsin  Department of Computer Sciences.

The Scout Project provides a wide ranging abstracting service of web resources which includes useful pointers to technologies, techniques and market/product developments in the interactive publishing arena. The item below, is typical of the type and style of items published:

"Directory of Digitized Collections .... provides a catalog of major digitized heritage collections and on-going international digitization projects. Although the database only contains 72 collections at present, its potential as a central point for information on digitized collections worldwide is considerable. From the main page, users can conduct a keyword search or browse the database by new or all records. Entries for collections include country, collection name, URL for the collection and institution, a description of varying length, type of material, and language. The site also includes a form to add a record, which potential participants can use to nominate their collection". 11/04/00

URL: Directory of Digitized Collections http://thoth.bl.uk/
URL: Internet Scout Project http://scout.cs.wisc.edu/

Developing electronic collections mail list

A new mailbase list has been started especially for those involved in developing electronic collections of information in the UK (and beyond). The organisers are looking for archivists, librarians, museum professionals, or other types of educational service providers to join and share experiences/information about ongoing e-collection development activities.

Topics include collection development strategies, identifying/assessing/acquiring content, collaborative collecting at local/regional/national levels, and other topical aspects of electronic collection management.

To join, send a message to: mailto:mailbase@mailbase.ac.uk which says: join e-collections Your Name stop [Note - replace 'Your' with your first name and 'Name' with your last name]. You will then receive a confirmation message from mailbase.  Just cut the code it sends you out of this message, and email it back to mailbase to confirm that your address has been recorded correctly. For additional information about this new list, please contact Stuart Lee or Alicia Wise.

URL: electronic collections mail list mailto:e-collection@mailbase.ac.uk
URL: Stuart Lee mailto:stuart.lee@computing-services.oxford.ac.uk
URL: Alicia Wise mailto:alicia.wise@kcl.ac.uk

The EPrints.org software

The Open Archives Initiative is providing a framework for the extensive interoperability of archives of scholarly research literature (and potentially other digital materials too). For this initiative to become a widespread reality, the participation of large numbers of individuals and institutions is required. In order to be able to participate, what institutions need is working, interoperable, configurable software that is freely available and easy to set up.

It is this need that the EPrints software was developed to fulfill. EPrints open archive software system apparently runs right "out of the box" with a comprehensive default setup that should serve most people's needs. However, it has also been designed to make it extensively and flexibly re-configurable for customized needs; almost any aspect of the archive's operation can be adapted to suit a particular requirement.

Further details and links to an archive running the software are available via the URLs below. 15/09/00

URL: E-prints http://www.eprints.org/
URL: archive running E-prints http://cogprints.soton.ac.uk/
URL: Open Archives Initiative http://www.openarchives.org/

ePrints in use

The forthcoming National Electronic Library Health (NeLH) is planning to include an ePrints server in order to promote the idea of open archiving. The operational release of ePrints should be available around now also.

A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing free access to the refereed journal literature online is available at the American Scientist September Forum via the URL below. 08/11/00

URL: ePrints http://www.eprints.org/
URL: Forum http://amsci-forum.amsci.org/archives/september98-forum.html

BUILDER Institutional search engine

The launch of the BUILDER Institutional Search Engine Demonstrator has been announced. This new product provides searches covering the UK's University of Birmingham Information Services Web Guide, The University of Birmingham campus and the whole Internet through a seamless interface. The aim has been to demonstrate the potential for developing a centralised institutional web search facility.

This product, follows directly on from the launch of the Hybrid Library Projects Search Engine in August and is based upon the same technologies. Information concerning the technology underlying both these products is available at the web site below.

The mission statement for BUILDER states that it "aims to develop a working model of the hybrid library within both a teaching and research context, seamlessly integrating access to a wide range of printed and electronic information sources, local and remote, using a web-based interface, and in a way which will be universally applicable". BUILDER is supported as part of the UK's Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib) which is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) of the Higher Education Funding Councils.

The project publishes a newsletter (in HTML and PDF), the October 1999 issue has just been released, covering key areas of project activity from July - September 1999.

URL: BUILDER demo http://www.builder.bham.ac.uk/newsearch/
URL: Hybrid Library Projects Search Engine http://www.builder.bham.ac.uk/hls/
URL: underlying technology info. http://builder.bham.ac.uk/documentation/interconnectivity/html/hlpsespec.asp
URL: newsletter http://builder.bham.ac.uk/newsletter/html/Oct1999News.asp
URL: newsletter PDF version http://builder.bham.ac.uk/newsletter/pdf/oct1999news.pdf

Open Source Digital Library System

The Open Source Digital Library System (OSDLS) is a project: "designed to build a freely available, next-generation digital library system". The project's website includes comprehensive and updated information on the project, as well as the project's listserv and listserv archives. Involvement in the project, either through discussion or aiding with development, "is welcome".

URL: http://osdls.library.arizona.edu

Networked libraries in the UK

The introduction to a report entitled: "Building the New Library Network", states: "A UK-wide information network made available through libraries and implemented on the basis of a high-specification central core could do more to broaden and encourage the spread of information and communication technology skills among the population... than any other measure the government could introduce".

The report takes this statement as its core and proposes an action plan based on developing a new broadband library network; a framework for defining, creating and managing the resources available on the Network; a training programme to based on new skills to handle information and communication technology, access databases and online information. The report is available in both HTML and PDF formats.

URL: http://www.lic.gov.uk/publications/policyreports/building/index.html

Library networking

The UK's Netwoked Services Policy Taskgroup runs a site which aims to be a gateway to information and resources concerned with public library networking issues.

URL: http://www.earl.org.uk/taskgroups/policy/

The D-Lib program

The D-Lib program supports the community of people with research interests in digital libraries and electronic publishing. D-Lib Magazine is a monthly electronic magazine which includes contributed stories, commentary, and briefings. Direct support for digital libraries research includes the D-Lib Metrics Working Group, which addresses the thorny problem of developing appropriate metrics, and the D-Lib Test Suite, which makes large testbeds available for serious research. Additionally, this site acts as host to other research activities. Ready Reference is a convenient clearinghouse of pointers to other sites on the web of interest to researchers and users of digital libraries.

URL: http://www.dlib.org/

EU/US digital libraries collaboration

European and United States scientists are engaged in large-scale digital library research and development. However, although digital libraries are inherently global, these researchers have not had an opportunity to work together. Both the US and European Union groups understand that there are technical, social and economic issues that require joint exploration and that they must have the opportunity to meet regularly to coordinate research; to share research results; and where possible, to consider the different national, technical, and social expectations about digital libraries (DLs).

A panel session at the 2nd European Conf. on Digital Libraries (ECDL), held in Heraklion in Crete in September 1998, entitled: "European Union and the National Science Foundation (US) Cooperation on Digital Libraries" reported on a joint study carried out by five working groups to define cooperative research actions.

The official web page for the working groups includes details of group members and rationales.  The final reports of the groups should be issued in December 1998. These groups identified research directions under the following headings:


Resource Indexing and Discovery in a Globally Distributed DL


Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) & Economic Issues

Multilingual Access

URL: ECDL http://www.csi.forth.gr/2EuroDL
URL: EU and the NSF working group http://www.si.umich.edu/UMDL/EU_Grant/

Cultural heritage R & D

The CULTIVATE  web site, is funded under the European Commission's Information Society Technologies (IST) Programme as an accompanying measure in the area of cultural heritage - libraries, archives and museums. The web site includes:

URL: http://www.cultivate-eu.org/

UK - cultural heritage resources

The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries is the strategic agency working with and on behalf of museums, archives and libraries across the UK. The Council provides information through its Resource initiative and has set-up a new e-mail list, Resourcenews, to enable professionals across all three sectors to receive regular news, press releases and updates on current initiatives.

Resourcenews membership is open to museum, library and archive professionals as well as interested parties, related organisations and the Higher and Further Education sectors. To join the list, visit the URL below and follow the links. 22/09/00

URL: http://www.mailbase.ac.uk/lists/resourcenews/
URL: Resource http://www.resource.gov.uk/

DLs and multimedia courseware

Ed Fox of Virgina Tech, who is well known for work on digital libraries, gave a full day tutorial on digital libraries at the ACM MM '98 conference, held in Bristol (UK) on September 13-16, 1998. For the tutorial he has created a major self-study course on digital libraries that is available at the Virginia Tech web site. The course has an introduction to digital libraries with definitions, foundations and scenarios, and more detailed information on topics, resources and references.

A related project that Ed is concerned with is Curriculum Resources in Interactive Multimedia (CRIM). CRIM is a new NSF funded project to promote the training of people working in multimedia through curriculum development and the creation of a digital library of multimedia courseware and resources.

URL: self study course http://fox.cs.vt.edu/%7Efox/dlib
URL: CRIM http://ei.cs.vt.edu/%7Ecrim/

Web Analysis and Visualization Environment (WAVE)

The goal of the project "Creating a WAVE" is the conceptual organisation of a community's information space on the web. The project will develop an advanced Networked Information Discovery and Retrieval (NIDR) system called WAVE, which fuses the current NIDR system technology with a mechanism for "dynamic distributed classification". Since the intranet for a commercial company is such a web community, the WAVE system applies directly to the conceptual organisation of intranets.

The project (funded by Intel) seeks to address the following research question: "What is the appropriate architecture for a digital library?" The research goal of the project is to demonstrate in the distributed context of the web that the WAVE system, using both the technique of automatic classification and the notion of conceptual space, provides the kernel architecture for a digital library.

URL: http://wave.eecs.wsu.edu/WAVE/

Hybrid library - user requirements

The HeadLine (Hybrid Electronic Access and Delivery in the Library Networked Environment) Project's Spring '99 newsletter entitled: "What do users want from the hybrid library?" is available on the HeadLine web site in .pdf format. The document summarises the results of research into common information desk enquiries received at the HeadLine partner sites and user expectations of a hybrid library service. Paper copies of the newsletter along with details about the project, which is partly funded by the UK's Electronic Libraries programme (eLib), are available from the email below.

URL: HeadLine http://www.headline.ac.uk
URL: contact mailto:headline@lse.ac.uk

Virtual libraries research

This item forwarded to us by Jack Colbert a Public Services Librarian in the US, and was been posted on several library-related lists.

For the past few months I've been building virtual libraries on the WWW, these are fully navigable, 3-D libraries, with books (linked to web-based resources) shelves, ceilings, floors, etc.

My latest adventure is a world called "Librarea", located in the "activeworlds.com" universe, and purchased specifically to provide professional librarians with space to experiment with virtual library interfaces. This world has room for about 75 librarians to build, and each builder/librarian will completely control his/her building project. In Librarea, you can build functional, beautiful, information-rich environments, meet with other librarians from around the world, create a work of art, an aesthetic expression of your particular information specialty.

"Librarea" is a non-commercial project that is completely free and open to any professional librarian - all are welcome. You can visit this world by downloading the free AW browser, available at ActiveWorlds.com, then, click the "Worlds" tab, top left, and scroll down to "Librarea". If you are interested in participating in this project, please contact the project organiser at the email addresses below. 03/05/00

URL: mailto:colbertj@mail.spalding.public.lib.ga.us
URL: mailto:librarea@vei.net

Wireless museum galleries

The American Museum of the Moving Image, a US museum dedicated to the art, history, technique, and technology of the moving image is working with Organic, an Internet professional-services firm, to develope a prototype of a wireless artifact-information system.

To be called eDocent, the system will send information from a database at the Museum to mobile communications devices carried through the galleries by visitors.  The information can be continuously updated, and may be experienced by the user either at that time, via the device, or at another time via a traditional web browser interface.  The information can consist of text, audio, still, and possibly moving images.

Organic plans to integrate advanced networking and sensor technologies and develop a custom application platform that can meet the future needs of the Museum and other public institutions. This platform will be tested across a number of standard portable devices, from Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) devices to e-books to web tablets, and operating systems such as Palm and Symbian.

The Museum houses the one of the US's most important collections of motion picture and television artifacts. The eDocent project has the potential to make this resource, which comprises some 85,000 objects, more widely accessible to the public. 14/07/00

URL: American Museum of the Moving Image http://www.ammi.org/
URL: Organic http://www.organic.com/

JISC National Electronic Resource

The UK's JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) Distributed National Electronic Resource (DNER) is being updated and includes:

URL: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/dner/


For additional links to resources see the Information retrieval (which includes details of multimedia information retrieval) and Metadata topic sections on this site.



Papers and articles

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