Recently in Digital Libraries (DL) Category

From Preparing tomorrow's professionals: LIS schools and scholarly communication:

How are LIS schools preparing tomorrow's academic librarians to deal with the emerging changes in scholarly communication? What more can they do? In this brief overview, we will look first at specialized courses dealing with various aspects of scholarly communication that have been added to the curriculum in many schools. The next section will look at how existing courses have been modified to include scholarly communication. Finally, we will explore the benefits of field experience, graduate assistantships and participation in institutional projects.

The authors present some interesting insights about the type of current curricula throughout the US schools.

As a conclusion, I think that there should be a stronger emphasis on the role and the implication of digital libraries (DL) and open access (open content, open communication) in scholarly communication. Understanding DLs both as social as well as technological constructs is important because most of the scholarly communication is mediated through some flavor of DL. Knowledge about open access (and open content, open communication) is critical because as an actor in the web of scholarly communication, the concept of openness as related to content and access seems to be influencing and shifting the research focuses of many disciplines.

Internet Archive to build alternative to Google

| Permalink

From Internet Archive to build alternative to Google:

Ten major international libraries have agreed to combine their digitised book collections into a free text-based archive hosted online by the not-for-profit Internet Archive. All content digitised and held in the text archive will be freely available to online users.

Two major US libraries have agreed to join the scheme: Carnegie Mellon University library and The Library of Congress have committed their Million Book Project and American Memory Projects, respectively, to the text archive. The projects both provide access to digitised collections.

The Canadian universities of Toronto, Ottawa and McMaster have agreed to add their collections, as have China's Zhejiang University, the Indian Institute of Science, the European Archives and Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt.

Open Source Software and Libraries Bibliography

| Permalink | 1 Comment

Open Source Software and Libraries Bibliography

An interesting and very extensive bibliography on open source and digital libraries. A great resource!

presenting at ASIS&T 2004

| Permalink

Whoever is reading this, just to let you know that I will be presenting at the Annual ASIST&T Conference "ASIST 2004 Annual Meeting; "Managing and Enhancing Information: Cultures and Conflicts" (ASIST AM 04), " in Providence, RI, on November 16th, 2004, at 5:30p-7:00p.

As a part of a panel titled Diffusion of Knowledge in the Field of Digital Library Development: How is the Field Shaped by Visionaries, Engineers, and Pragmatists?, I’ll be “theorizing on the implication of open source software in the development of digital libraries”.

Will you be there?

Panel Abstract:
“Digital library development is a field moving from diversity and experimentation to isomorphism and homogenization. As yet characterized by a high degree of uncertainty and new entrants in the field, who serve as sources of innovation and variation, they are seeking to overcome the liability of newness by imitating established practices. The intention of this panel is to use this general framework, to comment on the channels for diffusion of knowledge, especially technology, in the area of digital library development. It will examine how different communities of practice are involved in shaping the process and networks for diffusion of knowledge within and among these communities, and aspects of digital library development in an emerging area of institutional operation in the existing library institutions and the specialty of digital librarianship. Within a general framework of the sociology of culture, the panelists will focus on the following broader issues including the engagement of scholarly networks and the cultures of computer science and library and information science fields in the development process and innovation in the field; involvement of the marketplace; institutional resistance and change; the emerging standards and standards work; the channels of transmission from theory to application; and, what 'commons' exist for the practitioners and those engaged with the theoretical and technology development field. The panelists will reflect on these processes through an empirical study of the diffusion of knowledge, theorizing on the implication of open source software in the development of digital libraries, and the standardization of institutional processes through the effect of metadata and Open Archive Initiative adoption.

The panel is sponsored by SIG/HFIS and SIG/DL”

paper superior to digital technology for archiving

| Permalink

From "Digital Information Will Never Survive by Accident”:

"Beagrie: In the right conditions papyrus or paper can survive by accident or through benign neglect for centuries or in the case of the Dead Sea Scrolls for thousands of years. It takes hundreds of years for languages and handwriting to evolve to the point where only a few specialists can read them.
In contrast, digital information will never survive and remain accessible by accident: it requires ongoing active management. The information and the ability to read it can be lost in a few years. Storage media such as paper tape, floppy disks, CD-ROM, DVD evolve and fall out of use rapidly. Digital storage media have relatively short archival life-spans compared to other media. As the volumes, heterogeneity, and complexity of digital information grows this requirement for active management becomes more challenging and more critical to a wider range of organisations."

I already have a problem reading/opening some papers/files that I wrote during my undergrad studies using WordStar (or something similar) in a school computer lab.

Rights Management and Digital Library Requirements

| Permalink

From Rights Management and Digital Library Requirements:


It is common to hear members of the digital library community debating the relative merits of the two most common rights expression languages (RELs) - the Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL) and the rights language developed for the Motion Picture Expert Group (MPEG) and recently adopted by the International Organization for Standardization [1] - and which is preferable for digital library systems. Such debates are, in my opinion, premature and should be postponed until this community has developed a clear set of requirements for rights management in its environment, including rights expression, the encoding of license terms, and file protection.

This article is intended to provoke discussion of those requirements, and it attempts to do so by illustrating aspects of the current developments in rights management that may be problematic for digital libraries. This does not mean that the digital library community will need to develop its own rights language and rights management solution, separate from the existing standards in this area. It means that at this moment in time we do not have sufficient information about our own rights management needs to evaluate any particular solution nor to negotiate for extensions to accommodate digital library functionality.

introducing the Common Information Environment

| Permalink

From Towards the Digital Aquifer: introducing the Common Information Environment:

Google [1] is great. Personally, I use it every day, and it is undeniably extremely good at finding stuff in the largely unstructured chaos that is the public Web. However, like most tools, Google cannot do everything. Faced with a focussed request to retrieve richly structured information such as that to be found in the databases of our Memory Institutions [2], hospitals, schools, colleges or universities, Google and others among the current generation of Internet search engines struggle. What little information they manage to retrieve from these repositories is buried among thousands or millions of hits from sources with widely varying degrees of accuracy, authority, relevance and appropriateness.
This is the problem area in which many organisations find themselves, and there is a growing recognition that the problems are bigger than any one organisation or sector, and that the best solutions will be collaborative and cross-cutting; that they will be common and shared. The Common Information Environment (CIE) [3] is the umbrella under which a growing number of organisations are working towards a shared understanding and shared solutions.

socio-technological definition of "digital library"

| Permalink

When discussing the subject of digital libraries (DLs), often the very definition and meaning of the phrase "digital library" is questioned. This is expected due to the historical, practical and theoretical development of digital libraries as technologies (computer and information systems) as well as social structures.

Below I provide two definitions by Borgman (1999) and Lesk (1997) that have been widely used by practitioners and researchers. Needles to say both definitions embody the technical and the social nature of digital libraries.

Borgman (1999) attempts to explicate the meaning and interpretation of the phrase "digital library" through the analysis of various definitions regarding "digital libraries" coined by various research and practice communities claming to be somehow related to digital libraries, and to assess and identify possible influences of those definitions in the relevant communities. Borgman identifies two distinct senses in which "digital library" has been used (p. 227). The technological definition stating that "digital libraries are a set of electronic resources and associated technical capabilities for creating, searching and using information" (p. 234), is contrasted by the social view stating that "digital libraries are constructed, collected and organized, by (and for) a community of users, and their functional capabilities support the information needs and uses of that community" (p. 234).

Another workable and widely used definition is provided by Lesk (1997): "Digital libraries are organized collections of digital information. They combine the structuring and gathering of information, which libraries and archives have always done, with the digital representation that computers have made possible" (p. XIX).

References :
Borgman, C. L. (1999). What are digital libraries? Competing visions. Information Processing & Management, 35 (3), 227-243.

Lesk, M. (1997). Practical digital libraries: Books, bytes and bucks. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann

Well, at least many research institutions are realizing that the commercial publishers might not be the solution for the future of scholarly communication.

An excerpt from Fat Cat Publishers Breaking the System:

"Out-of-control costs for scholarly publications have fueled new digital repository initiatives

The scholarly publishing system is broken. At research universities everywhere, scholarly work—in the form of articles, books, editing, reviewing of manuscripts—is handed over to commercial publishers, only to be bought back by the libraries at huge cost. Libraries scramble to judiciously stretch shrinking budgets for growing runs of books and journals—books and journals that are critical to the research and teaching activities of the university’s faculty who, as authors and editors, contribute so generously to the publishers who sell them. The arrangement is bankrupting research library budgets and swelling the profit margins of commercial publishers.

Sadly, commercial publishing threatens the very system it exists to support. When expensive commercially published materials cannot be bought, when university presses cannot afford to publish monographs for junior faculty, everyone suffers. Students and scientists cannot gain access to badly needed materials; scholars cannot get tenure for lack of that first published monograph. The modern university, modeled on the ideal of the Greek temple where thinkers and learners pursued knowledge so that society could reap its benefits, is losing ground to crass commercialism. At risk is the very culture of the academy."

The Digital Library Federation (DLF)

| Permalink

Digital Library Federation:

The Digital Library Federation (DLF) is a consortium of libraries and related agencies that are pioneering in the use of electronic-information technologies to extend their collections and services. Through its members, the DLF provides leadership for libraries broadly by -

  • identifying standards and "best practices" for digital collections and network access
  • coordinating leading-edge research-and-development in libraries' use of electronic-information technology
  • helping start projects and services that libraries need but cannot develop individually.

The DLF operates under the administration umbrella of the Council of Library and Information Resources (CLIR).


| Permalink | 1 Comment

An interesting reading from ShelfLife, No. 140 (January 22 2004), about How to Digitize Eight Million Books:

A robotic scanner, custom built for Stanford University, is systematically digitizing parts of the university library's vast collection -- over eight million volumes. Resembling a giant copier, the 4DigitalBooks robot quickly and automatically scans about 1,000 pages per hour -- a complete 300-page book in 20 minutes. Stanford University Librarian Michael Keller, who oversees the project, says, "It's rigorously consistent -- the page is always flat, the image is always good, and software conversion allows you to index the text so you can search it." Rare books, however, are another matter. "We're very concerned about (them), so we haven't put any manuscripts on the robot. Instead, we use a technology based on the same cameras, (but turn) the pages by hand." In the next 10 to 20 years, Keller believes more and more information will be presented in digital form. "I suspect books will continue to be useful and important, and we'll (still) see them published. But people will find more and more of their information online, and the number of books will decrease." Stanford, for instance, is planning a science and engineering library whose goal is to have no books on the shelves. "We'll still need physical libraries," says Keller, "because people want to meet with one another. They want to work on
projects collaboratively, and they also like to work in clusters and groups." (The Book & The Computer 15 Dec 2003)"


| Permalink

Via ShelfLife, No. 121 (August 28 2003)


"A collaborative Digital Library is a user-centered system. In addition to the traditional purpose of providing resource discovery services, the system might also provide specialized services for some classes of users, ranging from basic alerting and selective dissemination services to complex, virtual community working spaces. In this sense the Digital Library represents a special workspace for a particular community, not only for search and access but also for the process, workflow management, information exchange, and distributed work group communications. But most digital library models are based on non-digital environments. As a result, the perceptions of users and the roles they play are biased by traditional views, which might not be automatically transferable to the digital world. Nor are they appropriate for some new emerging environments. New models are challenging traditional approaches. In many cases they redefine the roles of actors, and even introduce new roles that previously did not exist or were not performed by the same type of actor. With no means of formal expression, it is difficult to understand objectively the key actor/role issues that arise in isolated Digital Library cases, or to perform comparative analysis between different cases. This directly affects how the Technical Problem Areas identified by the June 2001 DELOS/NSF Network of Excellence brainstorming report will be addressed. The report states that the highest-level component of a Digital Library system is related to the system's usage. By understanding the various actors, roles, and relationships, digital libraries will improve their ability to enable optimal user experiences, provide support to actors in their use of Digital Library services, and ultimately ensure that the information is delivered or accessed using the most effective means possible. (Report, DELOS/NSF Working Group, 13 June 2003)"

DSpace: open source Digital Library (DL) system

| Permalink


"DSpace is a groundbreaking digital institutional repository designed to capture, store, index, preserve, and redistribute the intellectual output of a university’s research faculty in digital formats."

"Developed jointly by MIT Libraries and Hewlett-Packard (HP), DSpace is now freely available to research institutions worldwide as an open source system that can be customized and extended. DSpace is designed for ease-of-use, with a web-based user interface that can be customized for institutions and individual departments."

the cost of digital content and digital libraries

| Permalink

(via ShelfLife, No. 117 (July 31 2003))

Economic Factors of Digital Libraries

"The literature is full of articles about digital projects, new technologies and methods, research, development and user studies, but the economic aspects of managing digital content and establishing digital libraries are woefully under-represented. In this issue of the Journal of Digital Information (JODI) dedicated to the theme of economics, the editors grapple with the choices made by individuals, institutions and communities as they work to balance the desire to go digital with the reality of scarce resources. There are several components to be considered in cost-evaluating digital libraries. In addition to the immediate start-up costs of either creating or purchasing digital content, institutions have to consider the expenses associated with providing patrons with access to that content, as well as the implicit costs of preserving, managing and maintaining digital resources for the long term. One problem is that, instead of replacing
print content, electronic journals are often treated as a value-added service, meaning that the library budget appears to be shrinking for the same amount of information resource. (Journal of Digital Information 9 Jun 2003)"

open digitial libraries - the open access way

| Permalink

In In DSpace, Ideas Are Forever NYT reports on institutional libraries (i.e. digital library repository) and the publishing practice.

"The Journal Backlash Institutional repositories are novel in that much of their content sidesteps academic publishers, which have come under attack from the so-called open-access movement. Some scholars complain that journals delay publication of research and limit the audience because of their soaring costs."

"Out of frustration with journals' limitations, some scientists have started their own archives."

Certainly there seems to be a momentum, rightfully so, against the bureaucratic delays in publishing research articles by publishers of journals and other research periodicals. It appears that the open access movement might be restructuring the publishing of research material in a fundamental way.

However, before any major change does happen, the issues of authority will have to be fundamentally changed in researchers’ perceptions. Whatever authority lies within the peer-reviewing process of a particular journal, will perhaps have to shift to individual universities or other non-for-profit institutions.


| Permalink

(courtesy of ShelfLife, No. 116 (July 24 2003))

"Libraries are collaborative by nature, sharing expertise, staff and ideas. Shared cataloguing is a good example: a cataloguer in one library creates a record about a book for use in a central database rather than just his own system, and everyone else who contributes to that database can download that record into their local systems rather than re-doing it themselves.
Now librarians are talking about extending that collaboration and "deep sharing" digital content by creating a Distributed Online Digital Library. The DODL would depart from the status quo in terms of function, service, reuse of content and library interdependency. First, it would allow a common interface for distributed collections, rather than the widely divergent "looks" of today's linked collections. Second, and more radically, it would allow both librarians and end users to download digital master files as malleable objects for local recombinations. This means they could be enriched with content from librarians or teachers, specially crafted for particular audiences, and unified in appearance and function. A user could download, combine, search, annotate and wrap the results in a seamless digital library mix for others to experience. The services such deep sharing could provide are staggering, and the economics are just as attractive. Imagine 30 libraries coordinating to digitize their collections. Each funds individual parts of the project, but all equally share in the sum of their efforts. So for the cost of building one digital object and depositing it in the DODL, each library would gain 30 downloadable objects. As participation becomes more widespread, the equation becomes even more compelling. (Educause Review Jul/Aug 2003)"

contextual 'reading' of information objects: do we know how?

| Permalink

With respect to the Ranganathan's second law, "EVERY PERSON HIS OR HER BOOK” (OR BOOKS ARE FOR ALL) (p.81), a comparable enunciation would be EVERY PERSON/USER HIS OR HER DIGITAL INFORMATION OBJECT (OR DIGITAL INFORMATION OBJECTS ARE FOR ALL). Obviously, in the context of the digital library, this enunciation has far reaching consequences and implications in terms of legal issue such as copyrights, ownerships, freedom of speech, information democracy, etc.

However, an interesting implication is related to the aspect of information literacy or even better said digital information literacy. Given the multitude of digital information objects, even if it is possible and feasible to make available all digital information objects to all users (the obvious hard issue of relevance both research and practice related), it is hard to say whether the users will be able to ‘read’ and ‘understand’ the various digital information objects. We are all familiar how to read text as narrative. However, does every user know how to contextually read a chart, a bar graph, or a video presentation of unknown phenomena?

It appears that the information and medial literacy issues are lacking in the study of digital libraries. Marchionini indirectly raised the issue of technology vs. user in context: “The experience of this case [The Baltimore Learning Company] demonstrated that advanced technical solutions and high-quality content are not sufficient to initiate or sustain community in settings where day-to-day practice is strongly determined by personal, social and political constrains” (p.23).

Technology alone can’t fix problems.

Marchionini, G., Plaisant, C., & Komlodi, A. (in press) The people in digital libraries: Multifaceted approaches to assessing needs and impact. Chapter in Bishop, A. Buttenfield, B. & VanHouse, N. (Eds.) Digital library use: Social practice in design and evaluation. Retrieved October 26th, 2002 from:

Ranganathan, S. R. (1957). The five laws of library science. London: Blunt and Sons, Ltd. pp. 11-31, 80-87, 258-263, 287-291, 326-329

Digital Libraries and the Information Society

| Permalink | 1 TrackBack

“Human-centered digital library design is particularly challenging because human information behavior is a complex and highly context dependent, and the digital library concept and technologies are rapidly changing” (Marchionini et al., p.1)

Digital libraries like many other unique conceptual and practical phenomena resulting from the information explosion have presented both the researchers and the practitioners alike with a challenge to understand its very complex and multifaceted nature. As with any emerging concept and practice, there is a struggle to define its scope and its contextual situatedness. All three articles in one way or another deal with the definition and the meaning of the term ‘digital library’, the social relevance, and its place in the information society amid the multitude of contexts it is imbedded, and its implication for research and practice.

By Mentor Cana, PhD
more info at LinkedIn
email: mcana {[at]} kmentor {[dot]} com

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Digital Libraries (DL) category.

Actor-Network theory is the previous category.

Information, Knowledge is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.