The National Science Foundation's Digital Government program (http://digitalgovernment.org) and the EU's eGovernment research program (http://www.cordis.lu/ist/so/business-govt/) have been working toward establishing cross-Atlantic collaborative projects in this emerging area of R&D.
Recently, the NSF provided seed funding to two institutions in the US for such collaborations. In one of them, the Digital Government Research Center (DGRC; http://www.dgrc.org) at the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute is collaborating with the QUALEG project, a consortium of four companies, three universities, and three cities (Saarbrucken in Germany, Nantes in France, and Tarnow in Poland). (In the other, the Center for Technology in Government from the University at Albany is collaborating with researchers from the UK.)
QUALEG (Quality of Service and Legitimacy in eGovernment; http://www.qualeg.eupm.net/my_spip/index.php) aims at enabling Local Governments to manage their policies in a transparent and trustable way. This implies that Local Governments should be able to measure the performance of the services they offer, to assess the satisfaction of Citizens, and to re-formulate policy orientations on such elements with the participation of Citizens.
The project innovative technology implements a knowledge harvesting tool that supports and stores information provided by Citizens. The project is aiming to provide one solution that will be able to work in a multilingual environment. The software will be tested in the three partner cities in France, Germany, and Poland.
Dr. Eduard Hovy, Principal Investigator at the DGRC, recently visited Dr. Avigdor Gal, Principal Investigator at the Technion in Haifa, Israel, to establish personal contacts and kick off the new collaboration. Discussions went extremely well. A first prototype involving joint work is expected before March 2005. This project brings together the natural language processing and ontology management research at DGRC (http://www.isi.edu/natural-language) with the ontology development and process engineering work at the Technion (http://iew3.technion.ac.il/OntoBuilder/).
Creating a Digital Library Education Program at Indiana University Bloomington and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Indiana University's School of Library and Information Science and the Digital Library Program received a $939,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services "Librarians for the 21st Century" program to support a three-year project (2004 - 2007) to develop programs to educate librarians for work in digital library programs. Javed Mostafa, associate dean at the School of Library and Information Science, and Kristine Brancolini, director of IU's Digital Library Program, are co-directors of the grant at IU.
IU will partner with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) to create the first research-based, comprehensive master's-level program and post-master's certificate program for training information specialists in digital library development. Both institutions will offer digital library fellowships and internships for students to gain experience with digital library projects and initiatives. Linda C. Smith, associate dean at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, and William Mischo, head, Grainger Engineering Library Information Center, are co-directors of the grant at UIUC.
The project directors envision two programs that couple the theoretical orientation of graduate library education with the "real world" of work in academic digital libraries. This project will help guide other graduate library schools across the country that are struggling with 1) attracting the best and the brightest to the library profession and 2) educating students and practicing librarians who are excited about employment opportunities in digital library programs. From our own experience and our discussions in both informal and structured settings, we know that this need exists. We are gathering information from numerous sources, including digital library professionals, recent LIS graduates and current students now working in digital library development, and job ads for librarians in a variety of digital library jobs. These data will be used to made recommendations on the modification of existing courses and the creation of new courses as part of a Digital Library Specialization.
Indiana University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign present an ideal environment in which to create a model program for education and training in digital librarianship: two excellent, ALA-accredited schools of library and information science, each with a history of partnership with their respective university libraries; and two nationally-recognized digital library programs, which already provide internships and graduate assistantships to students and a wide variety of work opportunities. Both institutions are part of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) and have a history of collaboration and partnership in the area of digital library development.
Indiana University and University of Illinois will host three national conferences on digital library education, one in each year of the grant. The conferences will provide an opportunity for digital library educators and practitioners to share knowledge. One outcome will be to develop recommendations for core competencies in digital library development and digital information management. These three conferences will be planned collaboratively with IMLS and other institutions that received grants to work on improving digital library education.
For more information, please visit our project web site: <http://lair.indiana.edu/research/dlib/>.
The Tapir (Theses Alive Plugin for Institutional Repositories) is a package for adding E-Theses support to DSpace, a popular institutional repository platform. Developed at Edinburgh University Library, Tapir is being used in production to support the recently launched Edinburgh Research Archive (ERA). The software is open-source, in accordance with the principles of open-access for which it has been developed. It is available under a BSD style licence and development is being done on a public source code repository hosted by SourceForge.
The main aim of the Tapir is to provide functionality deemed necessary for accepting E-Theses submissions but currently unavailable in DSpace. This includes a metadata set that is being recommended in the UK by a number of universities involved in E-Theses projects; a dual submission system to handle E-Prints as well as E-Theses; a collaborative workspace to allow supervisors to observe students' work prior to actual submission; and a full multi-part licensing system to cope with the somewhat complex restriction options that can surround theses and dissertations, especially those published on the web.
Early versions of Tapir are now being used in a number of institutions worldwide, the most common configuration being Tapir 0.2.1 running on DSpace 1.1.1. A recent release of DSpace 1.2 was accompanied by a Tapir 0.3 release which leveraged some of the new functionality that became available in the new version of DSpace, and since then the Tapir 0.4 beta has also been made available.
The future of the Tapir lies in integration with the DSpace core code, and substantial portions of the code should find their way into the forthcoming 1.3 release of the software. Given the direction of development in DSpace, though, we can still expect to find the Tapir as a separate module for some time. The likelihood is that with the fruition of DSpace 2.0 the Tapir will become a number of related modules that institutions can activate depending on their specific needs.
The Great Lakes Regional Data Exchange Conference (RDX) was convened to address the need to coordinate and integrate substantial diverse and distributed data holdings (particularly geospatial data) and develop tools for management and decision support. Attendees represented government (federal, state or provincial), non-profit and academic organizations engaged in data collection and distribution. The conference represented a practical effort to share data and information across a large and diverse group of organizations with shared objectives and geographic priorities, and as such touched on many of the issues faced by digital libraries of all kinds.
The first day consisted of training sessions on topics including Flash design and development, Solutions to web mapping, Web and video conferencing, Great Lakes Internet backbone, Encoding: XML and GML, Metadata, and Internet security and SPAM control. The following two days consisted of plenary sessions, breakout sessions, and panel discussions.
Barriers to data sharing received a good deal of attention. These include a lack of standardized data formats, cross-platform compatibility, poor understanding of rapidly developing standards, distribution restrictions on proprietary data, liability, and lack of resources to create complete metadata. In a discussion of what types of geospatial data should be available free of charge, the consensus was that "framework" data should be available for free, but participants recognized that some government bodies may be subject to licensing restrictions when data are obtained from a commercial vendor, or may have to recover costs associated with the creation and distribution of data.
Web services and open standards were a primary topic of interest. Participants were enthusiastic about new technologies and open standards, but some issues were raised including branding and the potential loss of identity when data providers have no control over a user interface, and practical barriers to adopting new technologies and standards. Among participants who maintain data repositories, there was a clear trend toward leaving data "close to the source" rather than maintaining duplicate copies, to minimize the duplication of effort and maintain datasets' currency as efficiently as possible.
Complete conference proceedings will be available on the conference web page (http://rdx.glc.org/) in the near future.
Excerpts from Recent Press Releases and Announcements
Judge Dismisses Challenge to Laws That Archivists Say Hamper Access
December 10, 2004 (The Chronicle of Higher Education Section: Information Technology, Vol. 51, Issue 16, article by Andrea L. Foster.) "A federal judge has ruled against legal scholars and archivists who challenged current copyright law in hopes of making it easier to archive old literature and films on the Internet, where they would be available free to the public."
"The case, Kahle v. Ashcroft, pitted two archive groupsthe Internet Archive, a nonprofit digital library, and the Prelinger Archives, which preserves filmsagainst the U.S. Justice Department. The archivists argued that four copyright laws were collectively keeping people from gaining access to "orphan" works: out-of-print books, old films, and academic articles that have little or no commercial value."
"...The plaintiffs plan to appeal the ruling."
For the text of the decision, please see Kahle v Ashcroft, No. C-04-1127 MMC ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS; VACATING HEARING (Docket No. 24), U.S. Dist Court for the Northern Dist. of Calif., Nov 19, 2004, a copy of which is online at <http://www.joegratz.net/files/Kahle-ChesneyDismissal.pdf>.
FY 2005 Appropriations Bill Increases Funding for Institute of Museum and Library Services
December 8, 2004 - "Washington, DC - President Bush today signed the 'Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005,' which provides FY 2005 appropriations for the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The bill includes an increase of 4.8 percent for IMLS programs for a total of $240,675,000. The budget also includes an additional $39,889,000 for congressionally-directed grants. IMLS grants and leadership activities help to create and sustain a nation of learners, building the capacity of libraries and museums to serve their communities."
For more information, please see the full press release at <http://www.imls.gov/whatsnew/current/120904.htm>.
New national strategy will enhance workforce in museums, libraries and archives
December 8, 2004 - "London, UK - The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) has today set out its commitment to supporting and developing the sector's workforce over the next five years."
"The Workforce Development Strategy for England covers a range of activities designed to make the sector's workforce inclusive and representative; to enhance leadership and workforce skills; to improve learning opportunities in the workplace; and to develop robust data about the size, make-up and skills contained in the 'knowledge' sector...."
"...MLA has committed £1.2 million to supporting workforce development during 2004/05. As part of the Strategy it will integrate workforce development actions into all of its strategic programmes and will require grant recipients to demonstrate good practice in workforce development."
For more information, please see <http://www.mla.gov.uk/news/press_article.asp?articleid=757>.
Sharing of content requires collaboration, says JISC Programme Manager
December 7, 2004 - "Collaboration between teaching and support staff is crucial to the sharing and adapting (or repurposing) of content within and across institutions. So says Susan Eales, Programme Manager of the JISC-funded Exchange for Learning (X4L) programme, in an interview on the Ferl web site. One of the programme's key aims is to explore whether the repurposing of content can become a popular and sustainable way of producing e-learning materials in the future."
"In the interview Susan looks at some of the key successes of the programme, a ú4.5m programme which began in 2002 and ends next August. For example, RELOAD, the content packaging tool, has proved to be immensely popular, with users all around the world, from Taiwan to Canada and Australia, while the BBC are now using RELOAD in their Digital Curriculum initiative....But, Susan adds: 'Perhaps the most important outcome of the X4L programme is the significant amount of staff development activity that has been undertaken by project teams and the new skills that are being acquired.'"
For more information, including a link to the full interview with Susan Eales, please see <http://www.jisc.ac.uk/index.cfm?name=news_sharing_collaboration>.
Seven Appointed to the National Museum and Library Services Board
December 3, 2004 - "Washington, DC - On November 20, the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed seven Bush nominees to serve as members of the National Museum and Library Services Board. The 20-member board advises the Institute of Museum and Library Services and makes recommendations for the National Award for Museum and Library Service, the nation's highest honor for extraordinary public service provided by these institutions."
"'These seven distinguished individuals will make a tremendous addition to our board,' said IMLS Director Robert S. Martin. 'IMLS is dedicated to creating and sustaining a nation of learners by helping libraries and museums service their communities. With their policy advice, the National Museum and Library Services Board members will help IMLS support libraries and museums in their role as centers of lifelong learning. This newly structured board will have capacity to encourage synergies and as well as to enrich discussions with unique knowledge and expertise about issues that challenge libraries, museums, and the public.'"
For more information, please see the full press release at <http://www.imls.gov/whatsnew/current/120304.htm>.
Innovation and Collaboration - JISC and SURF Sign Major Agreement
November 19, 2004 - "Cooperation and collaboration across international borders is becoming increasingly vital in the networked environment as each of us explores the possibilities of a genuinely World Wide Web."
"JISC (the Joint Information Systems Committee) and SURF Foundation (the equivalent organisation in the Netherlands) have signed an agreement that will not only cement the already considerable areas of cooperation between the two organisations but also establish the grounds for even closer collaborative approaches in the future, ensuring that the UK and Dutch education and research communities remain at the forefront of both European and worldwide developments."
For more information, please see <http://www.jisc.ac.uk/index.cfm?name=pr_surfjiscmou>.
New Report Offers Recommendations to Spur Interdisciplinary Research
November 19, 2004 - "The National Academies, Washington, DC: Advances in science and engineering increasingly require the collaboration of scholars from various fields. This shift is driven by the urgent need to address complex problems that cut across traditional disciplines, and the capacity of new technologies to both transform existing disciplines and generate new ones. At the same time, however, interdisciplinary research is impeded at many institutions by policies on hiring, promotion, tenure, and resource allocation that favor traditional disciplines, says a new report from the National Academies."
"...The committee urged academic institutions to explore new models that foster and reward interdisciplinary interactions. Industrial and national laboratories have traditionally operated successful interdisciplinary programs because their research goals are established and pursued in terms of projects rather than by discipline...."
For more information, please see the full press release at <http://www4.nationalacademies.org/news.nsf/isbn/0309094356?OpenDocument>.
Guidelines for Revised IMLS National Leadership Grant Program Now Available
November 16, 1004 - "Washington, DC - The guidelines for the updated National Leadership Grants for Libraries <http://www.imls.gov/grants/library/lib_nlgl.asp> and for Museums <http://www.imls.gov/grants/museum/mus_nlgm.asp> are now available on the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Web site as a PDF file at: http://www.imls.gov/grants/museum/pdf/2005NLG.pdf. Paper copies of the guidelines can be requested by calling 202-606-8539 (museums) or 202-606-5226 (libraries). "
For more information, please see the news release at the IMLS web site <http://www.imls.gov/whatsnew/current/111504.htm▀>.
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