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D-Lib Magazine

March/April 2013
Volume 19, Number 3/4



Practical Matters

Laurence Lannom
Corporation for National Research Initiatives



The current issue of D-Lib consists of six relatively short articles, two conference reports and the usual array of News & Events and a Featured Digital Collection. While they cover a variety of topics, they are all very much addressing the detailed practice of digital librarianship.

The Featured Digital Collection, which we know is popular with our readership, is generally self-explanatory, but I would like to point it out this month. The publication of Livingstone's Letter from Bambarre involves a technique known as multispectral imaging to 'bring to light' material that would be otherwise generally unavailable. To quote from the project website,

"Livingstone's Letter from Bambarre sets a new standard for the range of data that a digital edition of a nineteenth-century manuscript can contain. The edition includes a full textual apparatus and bibliography, alongside natural light images and multispectral images processed to enhance text and topography."

The articles continue in a practical bent. First off, from Schöpfel, is an exposition on "Adding Value to Electronic Theses and Dissertations in Institutional Repositories." It is based on his review of relevant literature on the topic, mostly in the form of case studies, and the result is a set of recommendations and observations that used appropriately and in the context of a given institution, should help add value to an existing service. The second article by Szajewski addresses another approach to improving an existing service; in this case a collection of digitized historic sheet music at Ball State University. The visibility and usage of this specialized resource was greatly enhanced through the introduction of links from within relevant Wikipedia articles to individual assets within the collection, e.g., from an article about a songwriter to a specific item or items within the collection.

This is followed by Jacobs and Jacobs proposing a "Digital Surrogate Seal of Approval (DSSOA)" to formally describe digital surrogates of analog materials. If a digital surrogate is used in place of an analog original, what exactly can the user count on in terms of fidelity? The authors propose a standardized approach and vocabulary to describe that relationship and in so doing explicate the dimensions of that relationship. Our fourth article, from Tzoc, describes the development of a mobile interface for DSpace using the JQuery Mobile Framework. The article covers both the rationale for and the history of the project, including considerations such as developing dedicated apps versus a mobile-centric website. The project appears to have been quite successful and the results are available for general use.

The fifth article in this issue, from Knight, Brewerton and Cooper, describes a prototype project at Loughborough University to automate the use of reading lists to guide the acquisitions process. This is currently a time and labor-intensive process in which library staff must manually discover what is needed, the relative importance of each item, what is available, and balance the needs against what can be afforded. The prototype was successful in reducing the time and effort involved, lessons were learned which will lead to additional work, and a production version is planned. Our sixth and final article is a short and very readable piece on the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) phenomenon. Wright examines the characteristics of MOOCs that intersect with the traditional provision of library services and the new challenges that intersection will likely bring if distance learning continues on its seemingly explosive path.

We close with two conference reports, one on emulation for preservation and one on semantic search. We hope and trust that you will find these reports, the articles, and our featured collection of both use and interest.


About the Editor

Photo of Laurence Lannom Laurence Lannom is Director of Information Services and Vice President at the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), where he works with organizations in both the public and private sectors to develop experimental and pilot applications of advanced networking and information management technologies.
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