Digital Tools for Digital Librarians
Department of Computer Science
University of Waikato
Tools Greenstone currently provides
What do Digital Librarians do?
What should Digital Librarians be doing?
What tools do they need?
What is missing?
This talk contains more questions than answers
Tools mentioned may not really exist
Digital Librarians described may be idealizations rather than real people
Objects in screenshots may appear more functional than they actually are
Understanding Greenstone 2 format statements may be hazardous to your sanity
What is Greenstone?
Software suite for building, maintaining, and distributing digital library collections
Developed by New Zealand Digital Library Project, CS Dept, University of Waikato
Distribution and promotion partners:
Human Info NGO, Belgium
~ 10 years of development
Mainly driven from the IR + SE perspective
Mari El Republic
Greenstone DL software
Fully documented … in English/French/Spanish/Russian
Language interfaces … Arabic Chinese Czech … Thai Turkish
Trivial to install
GUI interface for gathering, enriching, building …
Serve collections on Web or write them to CD-ROM
Document formats: HTML, Word, PDF, PS, plain text, e-mail
Metadata formats: XML, DC, OAI, MARC, …
"Give a man a fish, feed him for a day
Teach a man to fish, feed him for life"
Greenstone software on CD-ROM
download from http://greenstone.org
Recent Historical overview:
Evolving tool support for digital librarians (2005)
D.M. Nichols, D. Bainbridge, G. Marsden, D. Patel, S.J. Cunningham, J. Thompson, S.J. Boddie, & I.H. Witten
in (eds.) Theng, Y-L, and Foo, S.
Design and Usability of Digital Libraries: Case Studies in the Asia Pacific. Idea Group Inc.
'Accretion' may be more accurate than 'evolution'
'Tools' have been added often on the basis of student projects, faculty ideas … and generally in an ad hoc manner
e.g. GLI, the Java Greenstone Librarian Interface was a student project that was regarded as mildly interesting at first now it is central to GS, our documentation, tutorials, workshops etc.
Tools Greenstone has…
Import, web mirroring
Full text index & searching
How well does our Greenstone suite of tools actually map onto tools that Digital Librarians need/want?
Can we think about our tool provision/development in a more structured way?
What do they do?
How is it different from non-digital librarians?
What should be they doing?
What tools do they need to help them do it?
Digital Librarian Roles
creating search strategies; evaluating web sites;
guiding and training users;
integrating networked sources; analysing and interpreting information;
creating metadata; imaging and digitising;
designing interfaces and portals; project management
Bawden, Vilar & Zabukovec (2005)
7 Responsibilities of D Librarians:
Partners in book production
New instructional agendas
Fair Use Guardians
St Clair (1997)
"A core curriculum in digital librarianship would include theoretical and historical foundations, analysis of the technical infrastructure of digital libraries, knowledge organization, metadata, information access and utilization, collection development and maintenance, and policy issues. A mix of librarians and technicians must work in partnership to create the best possible digital libraries"
Cool, as reported in Adams (1999)
"Our system, therefore, allows digital librarians to create partial mappings between the elements in a DTD and abstract structural elements and then produces an index (internally termed a lookup table or LUT) of the elements so mapped. What is encoded as <div1 type="scene"> in one document and as <scene> in another is presented to the system as an abstract, structural "scene". …
Note also that not all elements in a DTD need be mapped, which allows the digital librarian to concentrate on "interesting" structural features. …
Since documents have permanent identifiers, digital librarians may add some metadata directly to the database rather than having to encode it in the XML."
Smith, Mahoney & Rydberg-Cox (2001)
AACR2, MARC, LCSH,
metadata, user needs …
Java, Perl, HCI, UML,
The CS view ?
"A digital librarian is essentially a special type of automated agent that combines functionality for information elicitation, planning, data mining, and coordination of search, retrieval, and content summarization"
How much CS-style knowledge is necessary to be a digital librarian?
Is the expectation that there will be always be (maybe CS-trained) technical people available?
1. D Librs as Generalists:
A little bit of both LIS and CS
There will always be a coder around
"Often times, customization of online information gateways requires librarians to be boundary-spanners between all departments and organizational units. (A boundary-spanner moves easily between and communicates effectively with different social and organizational units to accomplish a goal.)"
"Few librarians who ever have sat on a committee with a computer programmer will deny that that other tribe arrived in our midst complete with a foreign language and outlandish customs."
DL requirement: talk to both sides
Does that mean a MDL has less LIS knowledge than an MLIS?
Digital Librarian activities are …
… dependent on the tools
Greenstone (or Fedora, or DSpace, or Cheshire or …) provides an abstraction over the coding of full text searching: so you don't have to code it yourself
Finding the right level of abstraction
"all librarians need not know how to code software. But they should know what software is capable of doing, when a program could be easily written to accomplish a task, and what skills someone needs to write one. … You cannot imagine practical solutions to problems if you are not aware of the universe of possibilities "
defining the interface between the Digital Librarian and their tools (and/or their programmers?)
Fluid environment: the software environment of a Digital Librarian can change every time we (or someone else) writes some new code
Institutional Repositories are simpler now DSpace has created a tool for doing them
New Access Mechanisms
A study on Librarian training:
"the most glaring statistic was that only 50 percent of those assessed correctly set the Internet Explorer Internet Options to enable HTTP, JIT complier, security levels, and accept cookies. This error was the probably cause of much frustration manifest in reports to the listserv."
(Kawakami and Swartz 2003)
Old roles with new technology
Digital reference: phone, email, chat, txt, instant messaging
"Digital reference software was developed from commercial call-center software used to answer customers' questions over the Web regarding products and services."
"Although there was a basic manual for the out-of-the-box call-center software, it was cumbersome and technically complex...."
(Kawakami and Swartz 2003)
Librarians as publishers
Content creation in addition to facilitating access
Buying (or buying access to)
Pre-packaged content (book, serials, CDs, e-journal subscriptions)
Creating content (e.g. digitization, metadata creation, software selection,…)
Indexing access point creation
Interface /access point design
Format statements ugh!
Implicit web browser access
Currently very difficult to understand:
Once we add an in-browser drag and drop interface designing the appearance of collections will be made much easier
Greenstone Format Statements
Librarian's role in Institutional Repositories
Understand the IR software.
Oversee project management and planning of local implementations of IRs.
Provide guidance to define collections.
Create simple, clear metadata standards tailored to individual collections' unique content and goals.
Review submissions for quality of content and metadata consistency.
Train authors to use the IR.
Allard, Mack & Feltner-Reichert (2005)
Data mining, cleaning, checking
More Digital Usage
Recording, analyzing, merging logs
More fine-grained analysis now that the content is digital as well as borrowing records and metadata
Digital Librarian Education
What can computers do easily?
What is unrealistic to expect computers to do?
(in the near future)
What causes IT projects to fail?
"Indeed, electronic networks can radically alter one's ideas about what constitutes a "library" and what is involved in "librarianship". In this environment the librarian must be flexible in attitude of mind able to keep pace with and adapt to dramatic changes in the library itself and in the technological and social environments in which it operates"
Lancaster & Sandore (1997)
Research: observation of digital librarians at work
Integration of existing toolsets
Many functions are not amenable for tool support
Persuading people to participate in IRs