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In Brief


D-Lib Magazine
January 2002

Volume 8 Number 1

ISSN 1082-9873

In Brief

THADL - A Successful Digital Library Pilot Project

Contributed by:
Jinfang Niu
Library of Tsinghua University
Beijing, China
< [email protected]>

In 1930, Liang Si-Cheng, a world famous architect and professor, joined YingzaoXueShe, an institute studying ancient Chinese architecture in Tsinghua University. In the following 15 years, under the instruction of Professor Liang, the institute did much investigation and research on ancient architecture around China and produced many kinds of works and materials including series, monographs, theses, drawings/sketches and photographs. Today the works and materials still reside in the School of Architecture of Tsinghua University. Unfortunately, with so many years having gone by, the materials have become so old that if they continue to be used directly by hand, they will deteriorate rapidly. Meanwhile, although the materials are very valuable, not many people know about their existence, except professors or specialists who study Chinese Ancient Architecture. To protect those materials and make them shareable among national and international audiences, as well as to celebrate the coming centennial birthday of the great Professor Liang, the School of Architecture wanted very much to digitize the materials and provide them online.

At the same time, both the department of computer science and the library at Tsinghua University were conducting research and development in digital libraries. Thus, they teamed up with the School of Architecture to work on THADL (Tsinghua University Architecture Digital Library). The department of computer science was responsible for software development, web site and retrieval interface design, and storage of digital information. The School of Architecture presided over the digitization and description of the materials. They also developed animations, videos and audio tapes to demonstrate the building processes of ancient architecture. To make the materials more complete, they even sent some students on travel to take new photos of the ancient architectural sites along the route that Professor Liang and his comrades used to travel. The library was in charge of developing the metadata scheme.

The metadata scheme was based on Dublin Core. In addition to the entire list of 15 elements of DC, we added one element: management. We also deleted, added or made revisions to some of the DC qualifiers. Finally, a system of 16 elements with 66 qualifiers was generated. The resulting system seems complicated with so many elements and qualifiers but, in fact, some elements and qualifiers -- such as the management element and its qualifiers -- have constant values that can be provided automatically by the software. Additionally, the system was created on the basis of 7 kinds of architecture materials, including series, monographs, theses, drawings/sketches, photographs, videos and audio tapes. These are very different materials with the only commonality being that their contents are all about Chinese ancient architecture. Therefore, to describe them clearly, it is inevitable that the system will be a little complicated. In the practical description, every kind of material is given a different interface that includes only those qualifiers that are specific to it. Therefore, although the whole system is large, the practical description is not so onerous.

The project prototype was established successfully, and the collection is now accessible over the campus network of Tsinghua University and serves as a reference web site for some of the University professors. We are trying to revise the web site interface, the software functions and the metadata scheme. In the near future when it has been perfected, the collection will be open to the whole world. When it has been made accessible worldwide, the URL will be: <>. With this project, not only the School of Architecture has realized its goal, the workgroup also has obtained valuable experience in the field of image digitization, metadata production and related issues. We have compared THADL with digital libraries in other developed countries and have invited experts to evaluate our project. These comparisons and evaluations indicate that the project has been a success.

For further information, please contact:

Jinfang Niu
Librarian of Tsinghua University Beijing
P. R. China
ZIP: 100084
Tel: 8610-62785974
Email: < [email protected]> URL:

Cuneiform for Everyman

Contributed by:
Robert K. Englund
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures
Los Angeles, California, USA
<[email protected]>

The Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative <>, a joint project of the University of California at Los Angeles and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, proposes to make available to an Internet public the form and contents of the first millennium of writing in ancient Mesopotamia (ca. 3300-2000 B.C.). Now in its second year of funding by the National Science Foundation (Division of Information and Intelligent Systems <>), the CDLI is pursuing an online distribution of text and image documentation of the ca. 120,000 cuneiform tablets from 3rd millennium Babylonia.

The field of Assyriology, heretofore little known beyond the confines of academia, offers to members of related disciplines, and to an interested public, uncharted data documenting the linguistic, historical and intellectual developments of a long-lost age. The cuneiform archives that contain this information were in the second half of the 19th, and throughout the 20th century, excavated in Iraq and deposited in public and private collections spread across the globe (indeed, a quick look for "cuneiform" in ebay will reward the searcher with a long list of offerings, deriving primarily from post-Kuwait War plunder from Iraqi sites). The CDLI is exploiting the power of modern computing to digitize and distribute these text collections from St. Petersburg, Berlin, London, New Haven and many other cities, in so doing recreating virtual ancient archives and offering online users interpretive tools to master the content of ancient literacy.

In cooperation with the curators of the leading museums of the world, with an international board of cuneiform specialists and historians of science, and with XML programmers and digital imaging experts, the CDLI has established markup and scanning standards for the entry and archiving of cuneiform texts <> to insure the long-term compatibility of its data with those of related digital library projects. Two associated online journals <> will offer a forum for the distribution of articles dealing with early language, writing, paleography, administrative history, mathematics, metrology, and the technology of modern cuneiform editing.

TONIC - The Online Netskills Interactive Course

Contributed by:
Juliet Schroeder
Netskills Training & Marketing Co-ordinator
The University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdon
<[email protected]>

The Online Netskills Interactive Course (TONIC) is a free course of instruction on using the Internet, produced by Netskills. TONIC is an easy-to-understand, structured overview of networking and the Internet that offers step-by-step, practical guidance on a range of topics such as:

  • Basic introduction to the internet and how it works
  • Using the web and creating web pages
  • Online communication, including email, chat systems, telephony, videoconferencing and discussion boards
  • Searching for information on the internet
  • Use of multimedia such as audio, video and animation
  • Information on eCommerce, privacy and security
  • Use of interactive web pages and the virtual reality Modelling language (VRML)
  • Information about managed/virtual learning environments (MLEs and VLEs)
  • Personalised services such as customising web portals and search engines

The recently implemented keyword search facility enables users to go straight to the topics that are of particular interest.

As a self-paced tutorial using the World Wide Web (WWW) as a medium, TONIC provides users with the flexibility to complete as little or as much of the course as desired at each session. After you have registered, the server keeps track of your position in the course so that when you return to TONIC, you will be taken to where you left off in your previous session. TONIC also offers quizzes and self-assessment tests to enable you to see how well you are progressing.

As a whole, the course is aimed at newcomers to networking who have some familiarity with computers. To date over 20,000 people have registered for and made use of TONIC.

TONIC is designed and maintained by Netskills. Netskills provides quality Internet training services to facilitate the effective use of Internet and Intranet technologies for teaching and learning, research, administration, marketing and other business activities.

To access the free online TONIC tutorial, visit the Netskills homepage at <>.

Collection Management Initiative

Contributed by:
Cecily Johns
Project Director, Collection Management Initiative
University of California Office of the President
Oakland, California, USA
<[email protected]>

As access to information in digital form has become widely accepted among scholars, and ever more promoted by publishers, research libraries are facing new challenges in managing and preserving mixed print and electronic collections. These new challenges include:

  • Understanding the behavior and attitudes of users that affect acceptance of digital materials as a substitute for print journal publications.
  • Developing institutional strategies, policies and methods for acquiring, storing, and archiving journals in a mixed print/digital environment.
  • Documenting and planning for changes in demand and usage of digital and print journals when print is located in storage.

The University of California, with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is addressing these challenges through the Collection Management Initiative, a two-year, University system-wide research project.

From October 2001 through September 2002, about 300 print journals, for which electronic access and publisher data are available, have been temporarily removed from the shelves of the nine campuses of the UC system. These titles represent a variety of subject areas from fifteen leading publishers. During the course of the experiment, faculty and students will rely on the digital versions of these titles to meet their information needs. Persistent access to these materials will be ensured by depositing a print version in the University's regional library storage facilities.

During the project, usage data will be gathered, and researcher experiences and preferences will be assessed. Each of the libraries withdrawing journals from the shelves has been paired with another library that is leaving journals on shelves and also recording use statistics. This strategy will provide comparative data to increase understanding of the experimental findings.

The University will use what is learned to develop strategies, policies and programs for the future management of library collections consisting of both digital and print formats.

If you are interested in learning more about the project, want a list of the publishers and titles being studied, or want to follow our progress, please visit the project web site < We hope you will find the project of interest, and we welcome your comments.

In the News

Recent Press Releases and Announcements


OCLC Purchase of netLibrary Assetts Approved

"DUBLIN, Ohio, Jan. 11, 2002—Subject to a 10-day appeal period, final closing on the sale of netLibrary assets to OCLC Online Computer Library Center has been set for later this month, based upon approval granted today by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado. The sale includes both the eBook Division and the MetaText eTextbook Division of netLibrary."

"...netLibrary's eBook operation will become a division of OCLC and will continue to operate in Boulder, Colorado, serving libraries and their users. The digital textbook group will become a for-profit subsidiary of OCLC and will also continue to operate in Boulder...."

For the full news release, please see <>.

NISO Establishes Networked Reference Services Committee

"Bethesda, Md., USA—(January 10, 2002) NISO, the National Information Standards Organization, has announced that a new standards committee is now being organized to develop standards that will enable interoperable, networked reference services. Digital reference services are a rapidly growing extension of the traditional 'behind the desk' reference service offered by virtually all libraries. Digital reference, whether delivered via real-time chat or asynchronous e-mail, allows library patrons to submit questions and receive answers via electronic means."

"A NISO-sponsored Workshop on Networked Digital Reference Services was held April 25 - 26, 2001 ( to explore potential areas of standardization. The workshop participants agreed that there are two general areas where standardization should be explored to support networked digital reference and possibly collaborative networked digital reference. Following on this workshop, this new standards committee will explore standards development in these two areas. They will develop a question processing transaction protocol for interchange of messages between digital reference domains. This will support processing and routing of questions and responses and packaging of other information to be exchanged. They will also build a metadata element set to identify and describe key components of both question and answer data and institutional and personal data."

"The Networked Reference Services Committee (Standards Committee AZ) will be chaired by Sally H. McCallum (Library of Congress). McCallum intends to form the committee into two teams to deal with question processing transaction protocol and networked reference metadata element sets."

"For information about NISO�s current standardization interests and membership possibilities, please visit the NISO website at <>."

"For additional information contact NISO Headquarters at (301) 654-2512. Email: <[email protected]>"

Laura Bush Addresses Nation's Critical Shortage of Librarians: Proposes $10 Million to Recruit New Librarians

"January 10, 2002, Press Release from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services"

"Washington. Last night Laura Bush announced a proposed $10 million initiative for 2003 to recruit a new generation of librarians. The initiative will be managed by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. In announcing this initiative Mrs. Bush said, 'In May 2000, Library Journal magazine reported 40 percent of America's library directors plan to retire in 9 years or less. And, according to the July 2000 Monthly Labor Review, in 1998 57 percent of professional librarians were age 45 or older.'"

"Recruiting a new generation of librarians is vital. Research scheduled for publication in the March 2002 issue of American Libraries magazine will show that based on 1990 Census data almost 58 percent of professional librarians will reach the age of 65 between 2005 and 2019...."

"...Funds will be used to invest in a variety of recruitment efforts such as scholarships and fellowships for master's programs; support for doctoral students who will train the next generation of librarians; leadership development; distance learning for underserved rural areas; and efforts to recruit librarians to serve increasingly diverse communities with diverse language skills."

For the full news release, please see <>.

IFLA 3M International Marketing Award

"The IFLA Section on Management and Marketing in collaboration with IFLA Gold Corporate Partner 3M has the pleasure to announce the first IFLA 3M International Marketing Award for 2002."

Objectives of the Award

  • "Reward the best library marketing project worldwide each year
  • Encourage marketing in libraries
  • Give libraries the opportunity to share marketing experiences"


"Any library worldwide that promotes library services is eligible to receive the award."

"Application forms are available on: <>."

Proposals must:

  • "be written in one of the five official IFLA languages
  • be submitted before March 31, 2002"

"The IFLA 3M INTERNATIONAL MARKETING AWARD will honor organizations that have implemented creative, results-oriented marketing projects or campaigns. Three finalists will be recognized for their outstanding achievements. From these three finalists, the winner will be chosen and will receive airfare, lodging and registration for the 2002 IFLA General Conference and Council in Glasgow, Scotland as well as a cash award of USD 1,000 which will be used to further marketing efforts of the recognized institution or organisation. The three finalists will be announced in July 2002. A first place winner will be chosen and two honorable mentions will be given. The winner will be announced officially at the IFLA Conference - the75th anniversary - August 18-24, 2002, in Glasgow."

Please see the full news release, see <> for more information, an application form, and points of contact.

Copyright 2002 Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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DOI: 10.1045/january2002-inbrief