D-Lib Magazine
June 2000

Volume 6 Number 6

ISSN 1082-9873


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D-Lib Magazine after Five Years

D-Lib Magazine is five years old. In the changing world of digital libraries and the Internet, this is a notable achievement.

From its inception, D-Lib Magazine’s aim has been to present the field of digital library research and innovation to people from diverse backgrounds. With this objective, Amy Friedlander, the founding editor created a monthly magazine using standard web technology, with three to six articles and the popular "Clips and Pointers." The goal has not changed and the form of the magazine has evolved, but only slowly. It has grown new features -- including "In Brief" and "Book Reviews." And some early ideas did not succeed -- for example, "To the Editor" never generated the public discussion that we hoped; readers often write directly to the authors, sometimes to the editors, but rarely to the general readership. The magazine has been redesigned several times as standards of web design have improved.

If longevity is one of D-Lib Magazine’s greater achievements, open access is a second. High-quality, open access publications are now common on the Internet. Five years ago they were a novelty. Because of D-Lib Magazine, and followers, such as The Journal of Electronic Publishing, Ariadne and RLG DigiNews, much of the core literature of digital libraries is available to everybody around the world. This spring I taught an advanced course on digital libraries at Cornell. Of an extensive list of readings, all were online and only one was not available with open access. Usage statistics of D-Lib Magazine show a breadth of readership that would never have been achieved if access were restricted to privileged subscribers. The field of digital libraries has contributors from around the world. Surely access to information is an important factor in bringing them together. While the long-term financial model for open access serials is still unknown, the value to scholarship is clear.

Wide readership and punctual publication attract good authors. Almost every important researcher in digital libraries has published an article in D-Lib Magazine. DARPA and NSF use the magazine to tell the world about their major programs. Most major projects have contributed an article, often the definitive overview of the project, and in several fields, basic research was first published in D-Lib. The very first article, a report on the first Dublin Core meeting, began the theme of metadata; there has been a sequence of articles on identifiers; recently, we have published much of the core work on reference linking. The researchers have chosen the rapid turnaround and wide readership of D-Lib Magazine over the delays and restricted access presented by traditional peer-reviewed journals.

Technically, D-Lib Magazine has stressed simplicity. We want everybody around the world to be able to read it, whatever browsers they use, without needing high-speed network connections. Although early attempts at a technology playpen never took off, the magazine has been used for a number of digital library experiments -- XML metadata, Digital Object Identifiers and reference linking -- but only in ways that are transparent to users.

This five-year celebration is not complete without acknowledging the people who have made it possible. First, credit goes to the founding editor, Amy Friedlander, whose high standards inspired us all. Her success would not have been possible without the expertise of the production team at CNRI and the support of Bob Kahn, the President of CNRI. Finally, we have to thank the DARPA program managers, Barry Leiner and Ron Larsen, for their intellectual and financial support of D-Lib Magazine. Today's editorial team strives to build on the foundations that they built.

William Y. Arms
Editor in Chief

Copyright (c) 2000 Corporation for National Research Initiatives.

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DOI: 10.1045/june2000-editorial