Clips & Pointers


D-Lib Magazine
December 2003

Volume 9 Number 12

ISSN 1082-9873

In Brief


LibData: Library Web Management System

Contributed by:
Paul F. Bramscher
Applications Developer
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

The University of Minnesota Libraries (Twin Cities) announces the open source software release of LibData: Library Web Management System. LibData is a library-oriented web-based application consisting of an integrated database architecture and authoring environment for the publication of subject pathfinders, course-related pages, and all purpose web pages. This application was designed for, but is not limited to, academic and public libraries. LibData was built with open source components (Apache, mySQL, and PHP) and is being offered as open source to the library community under the GNU Public License. The LibData project site is located at <>.

The goal of publishing dynamically-generated library web pages through a system that integrates easy-to-use web authoring tools with a large database of information resources led the University of Minnesota Libraries to build LibData. Like many large research libraries, Minnesota provides access to thousands of resources, both licensed and freely available. Access is presented to user in numerous ways, including through the Libraries' web site, subject pathfinders, and course-customized library web pages. LibData's master database—which offers a framework for containing records for resources, services, library locations, staff, and more —was designed to allow for easier management of these resources and their rapid retrieval and incorporation into the variety of web presentations that librarians create for users. LibData currently offers three distinct page authoring tools useful to both novice and expert librarian users:

  • PageScribe (for free-form, all purpose pages)

These tools are tightly integrated with the main database, making resource management easier to control and ensuring that library users receive well-managed, current information. LibData also features a robust staff management system, user and page statistics, and complete customizability and extensibility.

LibData was successfully moved into production at the University of Minnesota Libraries during the summer and fall of 2003. The Libraries' instance uses a central authentication and security mechanism (campus-wide .x500 directory) and has some additional functionality for enterprise portal connectivity. LibData's thorough documentation and easily understood source code greatly enables this sort of localization and integration. Through this open source release, the development team invites the library community to build on the foundation of LibData v.1.0 and share in its future growth and development. For more information, please contact Paul Bramscher, Lead Developer, at <>.

Wider Information and Library Issues Project

Contributed by:
Andrew Stevens
Senior Policy Adviser (Libraries)
Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries
London, England

The Wider Information and Library Issues Project (WILIP) was begun in the summer of 2002. The aim of the project was:

"To maximise the contribution made by library and information services to the economic, educational, social and cultural life of the UK."

Libraries collectively represent an extraordinarily rich storehouse of information. The review undertaken through WILIP included all types of library and information services, including publishers, booksellers and tourist information centres. The project was overseen by a partnership of the British Library, CILIP and Resource.

Between October 2002 and May 2003, 77 interviews with around 200 representatives of professional associations and organisations were held. The consultation revealed a high degree of unanimity on the vision and challenges. Almost all people shared a broad vision of the future of the libraries and information sector:

Image lists elements of shared vision

Overall, respondents saw a picture of fragmented library and information services, failing to punch their weight. There was clear general agreement on four major challenges that apply across all services:

  1. Strategic policy framework linking information strategies in each sector to improve access to information and knowledge
  1. Advocacy/evidence of impact
  1. Workforce/leadership development
  1. Funding and the sustainability of initiatives

The full report, published on 3 November 2003, details the consultation findings and issues raised. This was accompanied by a short summary report which described the process for handling the recommendations made during the consultation.

The third, and strategically most important report, will be published in January 2004. It identifies opportunities for library and information services, states the vision and describes how Routes to Knowledge, the next stage of the project, will be implemented.

WILIP is dead; long live Routes to Knowledge

Routes to Knowledge is made up of two main elements:

  1. High level advocacy and re-positioning of library and information services in relation to the Knowledge Society
  1. Building capacity to deliver the vision for our services

WILIP image

Access to information has become a key factor in the way society functions. Managing information and facilitating access to it is core business for libraries—they have the "route-map" to the Knowledge Society. Libraries are well placed to seize a major stake in the Knowledge Society agenda.

The first stage in Routes is engagement with library and information services through a consultative process to build the partnership between library and information services starting in January 2004.

Plans will then be developed by April 2005 to address the principal strategic issues affecting all library and information services—workforce and leadership, access to resources, network development and resources.

Routes to Knowledge is about taking simple steps towards a big vision and building our capacity to grow through partnership. WILIP has come of age.

Copies of the reports on WILIP can be obtained from the Resource website at <>.

Accelerating Globally Distributed Team Innovation

Contributed by:
Hilary Grierson, Research Fellow
Dr. David J. Nicol, Senior Lecturer
Centre for Academic Practice, University of Strathclyde
Ade Mabogunje, Researcher
CDR, Stanford University

Accelerating Globally Distributed Team Innovation
Building an Experimental Test Bed to Leverage Digital Libraries in the Transformation of Design Engineering Education. A JISC/NSF funded project.

This project is now referred to as 'Distributed Innovative Design, Education and Teamworking' (DIDET). The official start date was 1 March 2003, and the project's end date is 29 February 2008, although developments will be embedded. Work is being jointly undertaken by Stanford University (Mechanical Engineering) and the University of Strathclyde (Design Manufacturing and Engineering Management). Strathclyde's team also includes members from the following departments: CAP (Centre for Academic Practice), CDLR (Centre for Digital Libraries Research) and Learning Services. Currently, Stanford and Strathclyde are testbedding parts of the DIDET project independently, but they are collaborating in the research and learning from each others' experiences. Fortnightly, video conferencing sessions, shared project groupware and email keep the partners closely informed.

Strathclyde Pilot: a 'can crushing device'
Working in small teams, 3rd year engineering product design students have five weeks to develop a prototype to crush soft-drinks cans. Teams meet face-to-face but tasks and assessment encourage online storage and sharing of information and resources around an open-source groupware product called Tikiwiki. Emphasis is placed on continually recording design documentation throughout the project.

Early results suggest that digital repositories do support design learning in groups. Other findings are that formal digital repositories (SMETE, EEVL) are perceived by students as much less useful than the Web as a source of design resources; that the provision of metadata by students is cognitively demanding; and that to optimise sharing of resources, students must have opportunities to reflect on how they organise design information in repositories. A key issue is how to reuse the resources stored in repositories by one cohort of students with subsequent cohorts, without depriving this second cohort of the valuable learning experience gained from storing and organising resources themselves. It is envisaged that development of a DIDET digital library will provide integrated and convenient access to all information resources required to support students at all stages of an engineering design project.

Stanford Pilot: the 'paperbike'
A team of four masters level students are challenged to design, build, and race a human-driven vehicle made of paper. This assignment is intended, among other things, to deepen students experience of working in teams, develop a culture of thinking outside the box in the class, and underscore the practice of design documentation for knowledge reuse.

As a knowledge resource, students have been traditionally given access to a digital archive of previous students' work consisting primarily of written documents. We are investigating if access to video footage of previous work can be used to enhance ongoing work. In particular, we are using the Informedia digital library system developed at the Carnegie Mellon University. The system uses a variety of methods, including speech and face recognition, to index video footage and facilitate information retrieval. We strongly believe that the successful application of this technology in design practice will increase design team performance.

Results of our work so far indicate that a running commentary on the activities captured in the video clips can promote re-use of tacit knowledge embedded in audiovisual data.

USEMARCON Plus 1.4 MARC Record Converter Available

Contributed by:
Ere Maijala
ATP Library Systems Ltd.

USEMARCON Plus is a software application that allows users to convert bibliographic records from one MARC format to another. It was originally developed in a project funded by European Union during years 1995-1997. The software was adapted by Crossnet Systems Limited on behalf of the British Library and CERL (the Committee of European Research Librarians) to allow closer integration into other systems, such as Z39.50 servers.

In 2002 we started evaluating the use of USEMARCON Plus in Z39.50 server and client to provide seamless on-the-fly conversions from/to different MARC formats. The original software had proven useful, and many conversion rules were already available to it. However, it became apparent that the software still required some work to make it easier to integrate into multithreaded servers and clients running continuously.

After pondering the situation for a while and studying the license conditions, we decided to take on the task of making the required changes to the software. While the core of the application was good, we had to make some quite extensive changes before the full package met our demands. The result from this work was a faster and more stable application. Reliability is always important to us. When doing occasional conversions, speed might not be an issue, but we had to include some optimisations to make the on-the-fly conversions faster in our Z39.50 server and client.

Following testing in co-operation with the British Library and Helsinki University, and the fixing of some remaining issues, the availability of the new version, USEMARCON Plus 1.4, was announced in November 2003. The software and the documentation is available free of charge to users and application developers.

For more information and to download the software please visit the British Library web site at <>. More detailed information on the changes we have made is available on our web site at <>. Please feel free to mail us at <> too.

In the News

Excerpts from Recent Press Releases and Announcements

Department of Education will begin to implement a reengineering plan for ERIC

Announced by Monica Todeschini, ERIC.

December 11, 2003: Submitters are asked to "cease sending...publications to the ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology, Syracuse University, 621 Skytop Road, Suite 160, Syracuse, NY 13244-5290 as we will cease to operate as of Dec. 31, 2003."

"In January 2004, the Department of Education will begin to implement a reengineering plan for ERIC. The new ERIC mission continues the core function of providing a centralized bibliographic database of journal articles and other published and unpublished education materials. It enhances the database by adding free full text and electronic links to commercial sources and by making it easy to use and up to date."

"Beginning in January and until the new ERIC model for acquiring education literature is developed later in 2004, no new materials will be received and accepted for the database. However, the ERIC database will continue to grow, as thousands of documents selected by the ERIC clearinghouses throughout 2003 will be added. When the new model is ready later in 2004, the new ERIC contractor will communicate with publishers, education organizations, and other database contributors to add publications and materials released from January 2004 forward. "

"Please see the URL <> to stay up-to-date about the ERIC transition to a new contractor and model."

NISO Publishes White Paper on Patents and Open Standards

National Information Standards Organization (NISO) - December 11, 2003 "The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) has published a white paper on Patents and Open Standards by Priscilla Caplan, Assistant Director of the Florida Center for Library Automation. This white paper is a timely reminder to everyone involved in standards development of the relationship between standards, patents, and the policies of standards development organizations. Originally published as the feature article in the October 2003 issue of Information Standards Quarterly, NISO is making this important information available as a free electronic download from its website: <>."

"The paper reviews some patent basics and then considers the following questions:

  • What is an open standard?
  • What are the policies of other standards setting organizations governing patented contributions to standards?
  • What are the implications for NISO?"

"The paper concludes with an update from NISO on their recently adopted Patent Policy."

International Standard for Dublin Core Metadata Published

National Information Standards Organization (NISO) - December 9, 2003: "The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published ISO 15836:2003, Information and documentation - The Dublin Core metadata element set. Under NISO's leadership this standard was fast-tracked in ISO Technical Committee 45 (Information and documentation) Subcommittee 4 (Technical Interoperability) through the ISO approval process using a version identical to ANSI/NISO Z39.85-2001."

"The Dublin Core metadata standard provides a core set of 15 metadata elements for cross-domain information resource sharing. Since the original workshop, held in March 1995 in Dublin, Ohio (thus the name Dublin Core) this core set of metadata elements has gained worldwide recognition and use, with translations in over 20 languages. The issuance of the ISO standard provides the official international endorsement for use of the Dublin Core metadata."

"ISO 15836 is available for purchase in electronic or paper formats, in English and French, from ISO <>. A free downloadable pdf file of the ANSI/NISO version is available from the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) website: <>. For additional information about Dublin Core metadata, including user guides, tools, training materials, and working group implementation activities, visit the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative website: <>."

eBook Retailers Report over 1 Million Units Sold in 2003

" New York, NY � Monday, December 8, 2003 � Retail eBook sales continued their strong growth into the third quarter of 2003 according to data released today by the Open eBook Forum (OeBF), the eBook industry trade and standards organization ( Cumulative units sold for the first three quarters of 2003 (Jan � Sept) have surpassed the one million mark for the first time in a single year and are up 64% over Q3 2002. Revenues reported by retailers for the third quarter of 2003 were up a solid 37% over the same period in 2002. These and other figures charting the eBook industry are reported in the quarterly OeBF eBook Publishing and Retail Statistics Report."

For further information please see the full press release at <>

Landmark Agreement Heralds Closer Cultural Cooperation between Home Nations

"London, 5 December 2003 � A landmark Agreement has been signed by the Administrations in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to create a Joint Forum for collaboration and cooperation on museums, archives and libraries issues. The new Agreement, while recognising that culture remains a matter for each administration, means that museums, archives and libraries in each of the home nations will benefit from the collective know how of all the UK's expert bodies. By sharing information and planning together at an early stage, the sectors' executive bodies can ensure that they collaborate where appropriate so that museums, archives and libraries can benefit from a joined up approach at an early stage."

"...As part of the new arrangements, the Joint Forum of executive bodies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will meet at least twice per year to discuss potential joint working and ensure improved communication and planning."

For further information please see the full press release at <>

Preservation Metadata: Implementation Strategies (PREMIS) Survey

Announced by Priscilla Caplan and Rebecca Guenther, 3 December 2003.

"Preservation Metadata: Implementation Strategies (PREMIS) is a working group sponsored by OCLC and RLG. The focus of PREMIS is on the practical aspects of implementing preservation metadata in digital preservation systems. One part of our charge is to develop a core set of preservation metadata with wide applicability within the digital preservation community. Another part is to examine alternative strategies for implementing preservation metadata."

"To help us understand what the community is doing, we have sent a survey on implementation to organizations in the library, academic, museum, government, and scientific sectors known to be developing, running, or planning to utilize a digital preservation repository."

"Survey results will be used by PREMIS in our analysis of implementation strategies, and will also be published in summarized form. Individual repositories and projects will not be identified without permission. We hope the results will benefit the entire community."

"The Implementation Survey is available on the PREMIS website at <>. If your organization is involved in digital preservation and did not receive a survey by email, please download a copy and return the completed survey no later than January 16. There are instructions on the website. "

Resource Launches Disability Database for Museums, Archives and Libraries

"2 December 2003 - Providing online access to a database of 200 trainers, auditors and consultants specialising in disability issues is the latest step towards reducing access barriers in museums, archives and libraries by Resource. The database designed and built by Resource in partnership with the nine Regional Agencies, is the first online service of its kind for the cultural sector."

"The database is rich in information to help museums, archives and libraries to find support and advice on all disability issues; all available at the touch of a button. Want to find a consultant who specialises in deafness awareness training? Locate someone who works close to your institution or who specialises in academic libraries or can do a DDA audit? All such questions can be answered by the disability database."

"...The database has been developed in response to the need expressed by the museums, archives and libraries who took part in Resource's national 'Survey of provision for disabled users in museums, archives and libraries' (2001). Many expressed difficulty in gaining access to disability trainers, auditors and consultants."

For further information please see the full press release at <>

Escholarship Editions Publishes Innovative Digital Books from University of California Press

"November 24, 2004: OAKLAND, Calif. - eScholarship Editions, a California Digital Library program at the University of California (UC), has completed a project to electronically publish nearly 1,400 UC Press digital books, making it the world's largest collection of university press electronic books."

"Books available for free to all readers include such titles as The Romance of American Psychology: Political Culture in the Age of Experts; California's Salmon and Steelhead: The Struggle to Restore an Imperiled Resource; and Refried Elvis: The Rise of the Mexican Counterculture."

"One year ago, eScholarship Editions and the UC Press began a collaboration to provide the full text of the books online at <>."

"The collection represents about a third of the UC Press books in print, plus more than 300 out-of-print titles in a range of topics, including art, science, history, music, religion, and fiction. While many of the electronic books are only available to UC faculty, students and staff, more than 400 of them are available to the public for free."

For further information please see the full press release at <>

Copyright 2003 © Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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DOI: 10.1045/december2003-inbrief