Clips & Pointers

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D-Lib Magazine
April 2005

Volume 11 Number 4

ISSN 1082-9873

In Brief


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How Do Users Search? Examining User Behavior and Testing Innovative Possibilities within the CREE Project

Contributed by:
Chris Awre
Integration Architect
e-Services Integration Group
University of Hull
Hull, United Kingdom
<c.awre@hull.ac.uk>

The JISC-funded Contextual Resource Evaluation Environment (CREE) project is exploring how users wish to make use of Internet and library-based search tools within a variety of environments. The University of Hull is working with the Universities of Oxford, Edinburgh and York, as well as Newark & Sherwood College and instructional media + magic inc. in Washington, DC, to examine how search tools can be presented to the user in different contexts, offering search functionality in relation to learning, teaching and research activities.

The project has been approaching this work through two tracks of activity: user requirements assessment and technical development.

The user requirements assessment has so far involved a national UK survey, which provided valuable results based on over 2000 responses, and a series of focus groups. These examined which search tools are used within universities and colleges, and how users would like to use these tools. They have provided a body of knowledge on how users within post-16 education, both staff and students, currently make use of search tools ranging from Google through to specific subject-based resources. Full results of this user requirements assessment are available via the project website at <http://www.hull.ac.uk/esig/cree>.

The results from this work have informed the development of a series of interactive search interface demonstrators that are being used to test user reaction to the presentation of search tools within different environments and contexts, including regular webpages, a course management system and an institutional portal. To support the latter, the technical development strand of the project has investigated the use of the JSR 168 and WSRP portlet standards to enable existing search tools to be surfaced within an institutional portal. Access is being delivered to library catalogues, bibliographic databases, subject-specific resources, and Google™, which is also being presented within a portlet in order to compare usage and gain feedback on the association of this with more specific search tools.

The project aims to establish how users wish to use search tools in different environments for their learning, teaching and research, in order to inform system developers within institutions. Reports of the experience of using the portlet standards to adapt existing search tools are also being made available via the project website to facilitate this activity elsewhere. The project runs to the end of July 2005 and full results will be reported in a later issue.


Sakai Educational Partners Program

Contributed by:
Sayeed Choudhury
Associate Director for Library Digital Programs
Hodson Director of the Digital Knowledge Center
Sheridan Libraries
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, Maryland, USA
<sayeed@jhu.edu>

The Sakai Project is a community source software development effort to design, build and deploy a new Collaboration and Learning Environment (CLE) for higher education. Through the Sakai Educational Partners Program (SEPP), many institutions have become involved in the development of Sakai. Perhaps equally, if not more, important than the opportunity to become involved in the technological development, SEPP offers an opportunity for institutions to influence the creation of specifications, governance and sustainability plans.

In particular, the SEPP Discussion Groups (DGs), which range from core technology topics to pedagogy, provide a forum for institutions to form a community of interested individuals. There are open, thoughtful discussions in the DGs debating the merits of particular technical approaches, pedagogical goals to guide development, models for governance, strategies for (potential) migration of systems, and a host of other topics.

Johns Hopkins University and Northwestern University are co-leaders of the SEPP Library DG that focuses on appropriate connections between library systems and Sakai. Recent discussions have focused on an appropriate architecture with repositories for content storage, which would be integrated with Sakai's content management module, and the development of use cases that would illuminate issues with both locally produced library content (e.g., digitized special collections) and remotely mediated content (e.g., licensed electronic databases).

Through an open call within the SEPP Library DG, and a Mellon Foundation sponsored meeting at Stanford, there is a set of use cases that represent a foundation to consider appropriate repository services as they relate to accessing content in Sakai. Previously, the SEPP Content DG had developed a set of use cases that describe functionality from the authoring perspective, as they relate to the content management module within Sakai. The use cases from both groups reflect the diversity of perspectives and expertise that will be necessary to ensure appropriate integration of library resources to support learning and collaboration.

For further information on the SEPP Library DG, please feel free to contact Sayeed Choudhury at <sayeed@jhu.edu>.


New FreePint Job Service for Information Professionals

Contributed by:
Penny Hann
FreePint
Ashford, United Kingdom
<penny.hann@freepint.com>

Jinfo (pronounced Jin-fo) is a database of information-related job vacancies recently launched by Free Pint Limited, producers of the 70,000+ worldwide community of information researchers, FreePint® (http://www.FreePint.com/). Jinfo has a dedicated Web site at: <http://www.Jinfo.com/>.

As well as the database, a free newsletter, Jinfo Newsletter, is available and is published twice-monthly, by email. The Jinfo Newsletter lists the latest job vacancies, along with career advice and job searching tips, from information-industry recruitment consultants.

Recent Jinfo Newsletter articles have included:

  • "The Importance of a CV"
  • "The Wonderful World of Information"
  • "The Benefits of Mentoring"
Jinfo Newsletter is read by 3,000 information job seekers.

Jinfo was previously called 'FreePint Jobs', and FreePint's Managing Editor, William Hann, explains the reason for the change: "Jobs searching and career advice is an important service for information professionals. However, the database of jobs was hidden within the FreePint Web site as 'FreePint Jobs'. We therefore felt it appropriate to give the service its own identity and personality. The birth of 'Jinfo' has had an extremely positive reception, as evidenced by the number of newsletter subscribers."

To search the jobs database, and subscribe to the Jinfo Newsletter, visit: <http://www.Jinfo.com/>.


In the News

Excerpts from Recent Press Releases and Announcements

NSF Announces Intent to Establish Two New Science and Technology Centers

April 11, 2005 - "The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced it intends to establish two new Science and Technology Centers (STCs) in fiscal 2005. One is a major collaborative cybersecurity project led by the University of California, Berkeley, and a second, centered at the University of Kansas, will study how the balance of mass in the polar ice sheets may affect sea level."

"...The cybersecurity center led by the University of California, Berkeley, will investigate key issues of computer trustworthiness in an era of increasing attacks at all levels on computer systems and information-based technologies. The Team for Research in Ubiquitous Secure Technology (TRUST) will address a parallel and accelerating trend of the past decade--the integration of computing and communication across critical infrastructures in areas such as finance, energy distribution, telecommunications and transportation."

"'The overlapping and interacting trends force us to recognize that trustworthiness of computer systems is not an IT (information technology) issue alone,' say center leaders. They explain that the center will lead development of new technologies based on findings from studies of software and network security, trusted platforms and applied cryptographic protocols. The center will also look at systems problems through modeling and analysis, development of secure, embedded systems, and integration of trusted components and secure information management software. The center will merge these efforts with investigations of social science questions involving economics, public policy and societal challenges, human-computer interfaces and privacy, among other issues."

For more information, please see the full version of NSF Press Release 05-053 at <http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=103178&org=NSF&from=news>.


Modular, International Digital Library Course

April 8, 2005 announcement from Jola Prinsen, Course Manager Ticer B.V.: "The International Ticer School (known for its former International Summer School on the Digital Library) offers a brand new, modular course for librarians and publishers: "Digital Libraries la Carte: Choices for the Future". The course will be held at Tilburg University, the Netherlands, 21 - 26 August 2005. "

"To guarantee a highly interactive programme, the number of participants is limited to 45 per module, lectures contain an interactive component, and two modules are concluded with a practical workshop. The course is recommended by JISC (http://www.jisc.ac.uk/), the DARE project (http://www.surf.nl/en/themas/index2.php?oid=7), and SURF Diensten (http://www.surfdiensten.nl/)."

"The course website can be found at http://www.ticer.nl/05carte/. On the website you can find the full programme, the complete list of 20 lecturers with short bios, abstracts of most presentations and practical information about course fee and registration....If you register before 1 June 2005, you will get a £150 discount."


Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities Launch First Step in Digitizing Early Newspapers

April 4, 2005 - "The Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced that six institutions have received more than $1.9 million in grants in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a new, long-term effort to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of U.S. newspapers now in the public domain. Two-year projects in California, Florida, Kentucky, New York, Utah and Virginia each will digitize 100,000 or more pages of each state's most historically significant newspapers published between 1900 and 1910. When completed, digitized newspapers will be made available through the Library's Web site (www.loc.gov)."

"As an outgrowth of the soon-to-be-completed U.S. Newspaper Program, a coordinated effort by individual states to inventory, catalog and selectively preserve on microfilm local newspapers, the NDNP will eventually support projects in all states and territories to select and digitize significant newspapers published between 1836 and 1922. "

"The following six institutions received the first NDNP grants to digitize papers in their respective states from the first decade of the 20th century.

  • University of California, Riverside, $400,000;
  • University of Florida Libraries, Gainesville, $320,959;
  • University of Kentucky Research Foundation, Lexington, $310,000;
  • New York Public Library, New York City, $351,500;
  • University of Utah, Salt Lake City, $352,693; and
  • Library of Virginia, Richmond, $201,226."

For more information, please see the full press release at <http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2005/05-082.html>.


NISO Metasearch Standards Team Speeds Toward Results

April 1, 2005 - "At sessions concluding March 25, the National Information Standards Organization's (NISO) Metasearch Initiative prepared to roll out documents on technical solutions to the challenge of providing metasearch services. Participants in the Initiative focus their work in the areas of access management, collection description, and search and retrieval."

"'A key driver in the Metasearch Initiative's scope of work and timeline is the strong case for library-based metasearch services,' noted Pat Harris, NISO's Executive Director. 'Research and scholarship require search services that cover licensed material, provide complete bibliographic citations, and exclude extraneous sources. These services are not available through popular search engines, even in the enhanced versions that have recently emerged.'"

"A consolidated 'Best Practices for Metasearch' document, scheduled for release as a free download by June 15, will include guidance on authentication and authorization, among other key issues."

"In developing draft standards for trial use – also slated for a June release – the Initiative plans to move forward in at least the following areas:
(1) the NISO Metasearch Initiative XML Gateway. This is an approach to allowing a search to be submitted as a URL via HTTP and the response returned in XML format.
(2) Collection Description. This includes two sets of data elements, one for describing collections, and the other for describing technical services accessed by metasearch tools. Collection descriptions aid users in selecting the most relevant resources among those accessible via the metasearch application they use. Service descriptions will be used by applications in order to determine how to access remote services."

"Accompanying the draft standards will be implementation guidelines describing, for example, the minimum content providers and database providers can do to make their content more visible as it is channeled into the library community."

"A third main result of the meeting was the scheduling of an interoperability event in Fall 2005 to demonstrate the applicability of the new standards and recommendations, and to promote the best practices and standards to content providers."

For more information, please see the full press release at <http://www.niso.org/news/releases/pr-MS-Team.html>.


Proposals Now Being Accepted for the 2005 ISI/ASIS&T Citation Analysis Research Grant

March 29, 2005 - "Today, The Thomson Corporation and the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) announced that they are accepting proposals for the ISI/ASIS&T Citation Analysis Research Grant. Created in 1997 from a donation by ISI® (now part of Thomson Scientific), the $3,000 grant supports research based on citation analysis by encouraging and assisting individuals with their ongoing or newly proposed research."

"Interested candidates are encouraged to submit proposals electronically by June 15, 2005. For more information, visit <http://www.asis.org/awards/awardchart.htm>."

"Over the last eight years, the ISI/ASIST Citation Analysis Research Grant has been awarded to candidates who later made significant contributions to science and technology. Past grant recipients include Jian Qin (1997), David Dubin (1998), Ian Rowlands (1999), Michael Kurtz (2000), John Budd/MaryEllen Sievert/Gabriel M. Person/Ku Chuin Su (2001), Chaomei Chen (2002), Rong Tang (2003), and David Hubbard (2004). 'We are very grateful to Thomson for their continued sponsorship of this award, which recognizes the most promising research using citation analysis,' said Nick Belkin, president of ASIS&T."


OpenURL Framework Standard Approved by NISO

March 24, 2005, Eric Van de Velde, California Institute of Technology announced the approval of The OpenURL Standard by NISO. The description of the standard from the NISO web site follow: "The OpenURL standard is syntax to create web-transportable packages of metadata and/or identifiers about an information object. Such packages are at the core of context-sensitive or open link technology, which has recently become available in scholarly information systems. By standardizing the syntax, we will enable many other innovative user-specific services in this and other information fields."

For more information, please see <http://www.niso.org/standards/standard_detail.cfm?std_id=783>.


How Long Should Digital Storage Media Last?

March 24, 2005 - (from NIST Tech Beat) "Knowing that CDs and DVDs will last for a certain number of years is critical to many government agencies, as well as to hospitals, banks and other organizations that store massive amounts of vital data on optical disks. But, how long is long enough?"

"To help the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) develop a standard test to estimate the longevity of recordable optical media, the DVD Association (DVDA) and the Government Information Preservation Working Group (GIPWoG) are asking federal agencies and other organizations to answer a very brief survey concerning the longevity of optical media. To participate, see http://www.itl.nist.gov/div895/gipwog/index.html. The deadline for responding is May 31, 2005."

For more information, please see <http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/techbeat/tb2005_0324.htm#digital_media>.


MLA launches Disability Experts database

March 21, 2005 - "A new online tool to help organisations meet their disability access needs is launched today by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). Providing online access to a database of over 200 disability trainers, auditors and consultants who have an interest or experience in working with museums, galleries, libraries and archives, Disability Experts is the first database of its kind in the cultural sector—and the latest step towards reducing access barriers in our heritage organisations."

"The database is rich in information to help heritage organisations find support and advice on all disability issues; available at the touch of a button. The listings service gives contact information for the disability experts as well as details of professional experience, type of work undertaken and previous experience. The database can be searched by keyword, region, organisation and project type."

"Visit Disability Experts on the MLA website at <http://disabilitydatabase.mla.gov.uk/>."

For more information, please see the full press release at <http://www.mla.gov.uk/news/press_article.asp?articleid=781>.


Announcing the Expanded Summer Seminar Series, August 2 - 13, 2005

March 18, 2005 announcement from Susan Oliver, University of New Brunswick: "The Electronic Text Centre at the University of New Brunswick is offering for the ninth consecutive year a summer seminar series of five workshops exploring issues in scholarly communication. The series is designed to offer introductory and advanced level courses that effectively balance technical components with theoretical and practical "hands-on" learning opportunities in state-of-the-art, information technology labs. Participants will gain a greater understanding of the latest techniques, tools and standards while expanding their communities of practice."

"2005 Course Offerings are:

  1. Introduction to Text Encoding with Lisa Charlong
  2. Advanced Topics in Building Electronic Texts with David Seaman
  3. Building Metadata Application Profiles with Diane Hillmann
  4. Advanced Web Publishing with Daniel Pitti
  5. Fundamentals of Digital Imaging with Marc Bragdon"

"Visit the Summer Seminar Series Website at: <http://www.lib.unb.ca/Texts/SGML_course/2005/> for registration, workshop and accommodation information. "


M2K (Music-to-Knowledge) Toolkit Alpha Release

March 18, 2005 announcement from J. Stephan Downey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: "The International Music Information Retrieval Systems Evaluation Laboratory (IMIRSEL) at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), is proud to announce the official release of its M2K (Music-to-Knowledge) Alpha 1.0 toolkit."

"M2K is an open-sourced Java-based framework designed to allow Music Information Retrieval (MIR) and Music Digital Library (MDL) researchers to rapidly prototype, share and scientifically evaluate their sophisticated MIR and MDL techniques. M2K builds upon and extends the D2K/T2K datamining framework developed by the Automated Learning Group (ALG) at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA)."

"M2K Alpha 1.0 downloads, installation requirements & instructions, and a wide range of documentation, can be found via: <http://music-ir.org/evaluation/m2k>."

"The M2K and IMIRSEL projects are supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Science Foundation (Grants No. IIS-0340597 and No. IIS-0327371)."


World's first Text Mining service to benefit British academics

March 17, 2005 - "A new £1 million initiative to help academics with their struggle against data deluge will be launched on 21 March at Manchester Town Hall."

"The National Centre for Text Mining (NaCTeM) is a collaboration between the Universities of Manchester, Liverpool and Salford. Funding is provided by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), the Biotechnology and Biological Research Council (BBSRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)."

"Search engines return thousands of documents, but the difficulty for the user is to find those which are most personally relevant. Most of these searches have little concept of the meaning of words that is gained from the context of a sentence. By using natural language processing, text mining can discover this meaning and focus on specific needs of the user."

"Detailed abstracts can then be compared and contrasted using data mining to discover patterns and associations that the human eye is more likely to miss. This has proved to be particularly useful in the fields of drug discovery and predictive toxicology."

For more information, please see <http://www.jisc.ac.uk/index.cfm?name=pr_text_mining_170305>.


JISC welcomes the new DfES e-learning strategy

March 15, 2005 - "JISC today welcomed the DfES's newly-published e-learning strategy. The five-year strategy sets out a vision in which the full potential of technology can be harnessed for the benefit of all learners and, for the first time in one document, across all sectors. 'Digital technology. can dramatically improve our capacity to make the excellent universal,' it says."

"In support of this principle it sets out the means for achieving a 'personalised education system' based on five principles of reform: greater personalisation and choice, a strong voice for learners, a commitment to leadership and staff development, and effective partnerships. Digital literacy will, it says, be the cornerstone of a highly-educated workforce and of a modern economy."

"Supporting learners in transition between education sectors is a key concern of the strategy. Personalised online portfolios will, the strategy affirms, support the concept of 'citizens as learners'. Similarly, the development of the 'e-enabled organisation' which supports internal and external 'online communities of practice' will be one that adapts to changing technologies and the needs of learners, parents and employers."

For more information, please see the press release at <http://www.jisc.ac.uk/index.cfm?name=news_estrategy>.


Ten years of Dublin Core

March 1, 2005 - "This month marks the tenth anniversary of the Dublin Core, after the OCLC/NCSA Metadata Workshop that took place in Dublin, Ohio, 1-3 March 1995. The DCMI Directorate wishes to thank and congratulate all participants of the Dublin Core community at this milestone."

"Ten years have elapsed since the OCLC/NCSA Metadata Workshop, the first in what has since become a workshop series, then a full conference series. Over that period, the Dublin Core community has largely shaped the framework of metadata on the Web. If you're doing metadata on the Web, chances are you started with Dublin Core."

"DCMI is open—anyone can participate, use the standard, and support its evolution. DCMI is international—there are 25 languages in the DCMI metadata registry. DCMI is independent—no industry or government agency controls the DCMI agenda. We are a grass roots global collaboration with many national standards and an ISO standard in our portfolio of value."

"What DCMI has become, and what it will be in the future, is driven by the commonly held expertise of its participants, and shaped by their passions and commitment to improve discovery and management of intellectual assets for the benefit of the Internet Commons."

For more information, please see <http://dublincore.org/news/#10yearsDC>.

Copyright 2005 © Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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doi:10.1045/april2005-inbrief