DLF in Chicago

This travel log documents my experiences at the Digital Library Federation Spring Forum, Chicago, IL, May 2002

OCKHAM, again
OCKHAM, again
walking blocks
walking blocks
parade
parade
Pooh Bear
Pooh Bear

Next steps for open-source software in libraries

Eric Lease Morgan of University Libraries of Notre Dame shared his (my) experiences with open source software and outlined its advantages and disadvantages. "Open source software provides the means for the profession to take greater control over the ways computers are used in libraries."

Chuck Bearden of Rice University suggested ARL libraries should seriously consider the use and support of open-source software in work and research. He thinks so because: 1) it shares many of the same values of academia, 2) it tends to conform to standards, 3) it can be adopted to one's own needs, and 4) it provides an unparalleled opportunity for self-education.

Joan Frye Williams , an independent library consultant, described from an administrative point of view what needs to happen in order to make open source software a more viable option in libraries. More specifically, she described what libraries have to gain from open source, potential risks of this approach, necessary steps to take and safeguards to have in place for open source software to be used successfully in a library setting.

Time at the end of the presentations was reserved for discussion and the audience was asked what they thought was necessary for open source software to become a more viable option in libraries. Suggestions included: 1) rethinking software as a service as opposed to a product, 2) develop adequate economic models surrounding software services, 3) improve open source software documentation, 3) hire young talent with open source software experience, 4) when new projects are being created, create them using the open source software model and leave the integrated library system for later, 5) recognize development in open source software as type of scholarship qualifying for promotion and tenure, 6) articulate core sets of standards and/or protocols that are extensible and implement them in open source software, 7) develop software hooks into non-library related systems such as the campus-wide authentication service or course management system, 8) harness the power of interns to write software as well as returning students who need work, and 9) expand the library curriculum to include the teaching of open source software development techniques.

geranium
geranium
mosaic wall
mosaic wall
Navy Pier
Navy Pier
curvy sculpture
curvy sculpture

Integrating digital library systems and services within a library

"Providing open access to UT Austin collections and services" - Aaron Choate , University of Texas at Austin. Choate described some of the efforts made to implement the UT Knowledge Gateway Initiative. This Initiative, sounding a lot like MIT's DSpace initiative is an effort to bring together the wealth of digital information and content developed by the University. The content they are trying to bring together is "all over the map" in terms of subject matter and format. The Libraries is providing a framework for optionally storing this data and describing it. Initial data sets, based on their own licensed content include a library of slide images and audio files of Latin American languages. They plan to use thing like OAIS, XML, TEI, METS, and federated interfaces to make this project a success. A couple of interesting aspects of the system include: 1) they would like content providers to describe and manage their own content, 2) the system is currently using LDAP as the underlying database, and 3) the service is intended to be completely voluntary. Choate believes a future issue will most certainly involve rights management -- who can use what and when can they use it.

"The GATT digital archive" - Chuck Eckman and Stuart Snydman , Stanford University. Eckman and Snydman described a process whereby the predecessor of the World Trade Agreement was (and still is being) digitized. GATT is an acronym for General Agreement of _____ Trade. These documents exist in Geneva, and a library of Stanford wanted to provide access to these materials. Many of the materials had been microfilmed, and the GATT archives is an initiative to digitize the non-microfilmed contents. This involved three for four summers of intensive scanning in Geneva. The participants of the project moved to Geneva for a number of weeks and regularly scanned the necessary content. While there were a number of technological issues surrounding their digitization efforts, they found that there were also a number of interpersonal and interorganizational interoperable issues to be addressed as well. Some people did not think the items in the collection should have been digitized and there was an element of secrecy in the entire process.

"The Tamino XML database at Harvard University" - Clare McInerney , Harvard University. McInerney very briefly described TED -- TEmplated Databases -- as a means for constructing frameworks for a wide variety of digital collections. In order to implement this idea she toyed with using traditional relational database technology, but has instead leaned towards the use of XML. In an effort to manage the XML documents Tamino is being used. The balance of the session was essentially a software review of Tamino -- an application for managing XML documents. Presently, she is using Tamino to manage collections of biomedical slides, oral literatures, and photographic plates. While not perfect, she seems pleased with Taminio and often compares and contrasts it with Oracle's 9i application.

curvy skyscraper
curvy skyscraper
sharp sculpture
sharp sculpture
just another sculpture
just another sculpture
bottle and mushroom
bottle and mushroom

Plenary Session #2

"Changing roles and responsibilities of the digital library" - Suzanne Thorin , University of Indiana. Thorin compared and contrasted a five digital library initiatives across the county as she and Dan Greenstien supplemented a formal study sent to all Digital Library Federation members. The goal of the study was to evaluate existing initiatives, provide a set of baseline data, and serve as briefing documents for higher-level university administrators. She said that it is time to stop thinking about digital library services as independent units and make sure they are committed to the hosting university missions. She characterized University of Virgina's efforts as "scholarly central". The University of Michigan's initiatives where "early, strong, evolving, and de-centralized". New York University's efforts are "young and growing" and working closely with the campus's information technology department. Harvard University's efforts build on an existing infrastructure", and the California Digital Library is a "huge system" were communication is the key to success.

Tools and services as building blocks for interoperability

"What makes identifiers persistent" - John Kunze , California Digital Library. Kunse described the strengths and weaknesses of the current persistent identifier schemes. For example, does an identifier need to be automatically assigned, and is an identifier really an association in the way a domain name is associated with an Internet Protocol address. If so, then there needs to be a naming authority keeping track of these associations and assigning identifiers. Another problem is in authenticity. Is the content received from a URL really the content behind the URL you submitted, and how do you know? The thing that seems to be the real impediment to making persistent URL's a reality is a commitment by hosting institutions. In an effort to meet these needs the California Digital Library is implementing things called ARK's, archival resource keys.

"Assessing Shibboleth" - Peter Brantley , New York University. Brantley briefly described Shibboleth an access control and authentication protocol. This protocol is federated trust system relying on the user, an intermediary institution authenticating users, and a service the user want to access. The system represents a shift towards more active privacy allowing the end user to determine just how much information is sent to remote services thus providing more granular means for authentication. He illustrated the system using a canned demo, and he advocated the system since it is a better fit with the increasingly commercial nature of licensed information such as the bibliographic databases.

"Archivists' workbench" - Bradley Westbook , University of California at San Diego. Westbrook advocated the continued development of the EAD into a more robust system for collecting data about collections. He advocated the creation of a "workbench" of tools allowing the archivist to manage collections through its entire life-cycle, encompassing an array of functions, and accommodating variable workflows. The ideas expressed did not seem concretely expressed, but they did demonstrate that digital library techniques were filtering to new departments within libraries.

sea captain
sea captain
thriving plant
thriving plant
Forest Gump
Forest Gump
OSS In Libers
OSS In Libers

Birds of a Feather - OCKHAM

Since I had become involved in a project called OCHAM the week before, I attended this birds of a feather meeting facilitated by Martin Halbert of Emory University. It was attended by about twenty-five people and a few of us had been at the initial meeting. The concepts of the project where shared and a number of other modules/protocols/"light weight reference models" were suggested: 1) persistent URLs, 2) digital library repository, 3) content management, 4) context management, 5) measuring learning outcomes, 6) asset management, 7) preservation, and 8) registration, as well as the initially proposed activities: 1) sharing of pathfinders, and 2) an ereserves system. There was a lot of discussion surrounding limitations and impediments to making all of this happen.

Conclusion

I enjoyed my visit to the Spring Forum. I got a chance to see people I hadn't seen in a while, and I got back in touch with a few technologies I had forgotten about. More importantly, I became acutely aware of the amount of things I did not know and how insulated the Notre Dame Libraries has become. The DLF has a lot to offer, and the Libraries has things it can contribute to the DLF. The entire meeting was stimulating, and if more of our staff were to attend these meetings, then I believe our staff would be stimulated as well. The institutions represented by the DLF are providing aspects of digital library services, and if the University Libraries of Notre Dame want to provide digital library services, then becoming a member of the DLF would be one way to efficiently communicate with sets of our peers and collaborate with them for the purposes of providing better educational services to the University.


Creator: Eric Lease Morgan <eric_morgan@infomotions.com>
Source: ...based on personal experience
Date created: 2002-05-19
Date updated: 2004-11-13
Subject(s): travel log; DLF (Digital Library Federation); Chicago, IL;
URL: http://infomotions.com/musings/dlf-in-chicago/