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In Brief


D-Lib Magazine
March 2003

Volume 9 Number 3

ISSN 1082-9873

In Brief

The CARL Institutional Repositories Pilot Project

Contributed by:
Kathleen Shearer
Research Associate
Canadian Association of Research Libraries
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

The new opportunities afforded by electronic media along with the soaring costs of journal subscriptions are driving a global movement towards alternative scholarly publishing models. One such model is the institutional repository (IR). IRs are digital repositories that collect, preserve, and make accessible the intellectual output generated by an institution and may prove to be extremely advantageous to researchers and scholars in the future (Crow, 2002). IRs use the same interoperable framework as pre-print archives (they are Open Archives Initiative Metadata Harvesting Protocol compliant), but rather than being discipline-based, they represent the wide range of research output produced by one institution.

The CARL Institutional Repositories Pilot Project is an initiative to implement institutional repositories at several Canadian research libraries. The project, which is spearheaded by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (<>), was launched in September 2002 and has 12 libraries participating. The repositories will be searchable using one interface and freely accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. The ultimate vision is to have a number of robust and interoperable archives containing Canadian scholarly output that will form a part of a larger global system of repositories. In the initial phase of the project, participants are sharing best practices and lessons learned in order to assess the feasibility of IRs in the Canadian context. Members are experimenting on a trial basis with a variety of software types (such as (<>), MIT's DSpace (<>), and bepress' eScholarship (<>), content, and archiving policies, among other things. To date, four of the participants have their IRs up and running, while the others are at various stages of planning or implementation. Throughout the course of the pilot project, CARL will be evaluating various aspects of the IRs and reporting on the progress of participating institutions.

In support of the pilot project, CARL is providing a number of resources for the participants — many of which can be found on the CARL Online Resource Portal for Institutional Repositories (<>). An IR discussion list has been set up in order to facilitate communication amongst members. The list will be used by participants to exchange ideas, and assist each other in solving any problems they may encounter. CARL has also published a "Step by Step Guide to Setting Up an Institutional Repository" (<>) that takes readers through the major steps necessary to implement an institutional archive and discusses issues surrounding pre-implementation, implementation and post-implementation stages. In addition, the portal links to members' repositories and other e-prints and institutional repositories in Canada and internationally. CARL welcomes the general public to use and benefit from the resources available through the portal and would like to gratefully acknowledge the leadership and practical assistance that the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) is demonstrating to the global IR movement.

Crow, Raym. (2002) The Case for Institutional Repositories: A SPARC Position Paper. The Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition, Washington, DC. <>.

The Australian e-Humanities Gateway

Contributed by:
Sten Christensen
Humanities Librarian
University of Sydney Library
Sydney, NSW, Australia

The Australian e-Humanities Gateway <> was set up under the auspices of the Australian e-Humanities Network which is a partnership between the Australian Academy of the Humanities, the University of Sydney Library, the Research Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (RIHSS) and the University of Newcastle.

The Gateway was designed as a reference point for those involved in or seeking information about projects and events concerned with the use of digital resources in humanities disciplines in Australia. Its central component is a searchable database containing details of current projects in the e-Humanities field across a broad spectrum of disciplines in Australian universities. Individuals are encouraged to submit details of their project for inclusion in the database, acceptance being subject to a review process by the Network. Data is currently stored as an XML file that conforms closely with the Dublin Core as expressed in RDF/XML.

Phase one of the Gateway was launched in November 2002 and comprised a web site, an online forum, news and events, information on training offered, a participatory site that includes information on "going digital" and a searchable database. The database stored the data as a "flat XML file using a customized version of the DC dtd for "Expressing Simple Dublin Core in RDF/XML" [1]. This was indexed and made searchable via the OT (Open Text) search facility available in the Scholarly Electronic Text and Image Service [2] of the University of Sydney Library thanks to Creagh Cole the director of SETIS.

Phase two of the project is, at the time of writing, about to be launched and will involve the implementation of a new database architecture and further promotion of the Gateway to add to the number of projects referenced. The data will be stored in a MySQL database and utilises some newer technologies such as AxKit [3], a perl application that delivers dynamic XML pages using XSP [4] and then transforms them by XSLT to HTML.

[1] DCMES-XML. Expressing Simple Dublin Core in RDF/XML <>, <>.

[2] SETIS provides access to a large number of networked and in-house full text databases, primarily but not exclusively, source texts within the humanities. In addition to these literary, philosophical and religious texts the service is engaged in a number of text and image creation projects. <>.

[3] AxKit, <>.

[4] eXtensible Server Pages: A language for generating dynamic XML pages, <>.

University of Minnesota Electronic Portfolio is Open Source

Contributed by:
Paul Treuer
Associate Professor
University of Minnesota Duluth
Duluth, Minnesota, USA

At a news conference on February 18, 2003, University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin announced the move to "open source" the university's newly created, innovative Electronic Portfolio system. It is a revolutionary new program of gathering, storing and distributing personal, individual data and information. Built on seven years of research, development and practical application at the university, the innovative technology has the ability to dramatically change forever the way a person's individual records are gathered, stored and shared.

Students, faculty and staff on all campuses of the University of Minnesota (UM) system can now use the Electronic Portfolio to safely store and access their educational records, work samples, resumes, writing samples, legal documents and other personal data in a secure, globally accessible computing environment. It is currently used by 23,000 students, faculty, and staff. The Chancellor announced that starting this year it is available to UM graduates for life. Three integrated features are fundamental to the UM Electronic Portfolio. UM Portfolio information is (1) entered by both the Portfolio owner and the UM administrative system, (2) stored as granular pieces of digital data (elements) in a highly organized way, and (3) shared online selectively, with one or more persons at a time, one or more elements at a time, as chosen by the owner.

In order to further rapid development of the software, the University of Minnesota has donated its Electronic Portfolio code base to the Open Source Portfolio Initiative (OSPI). OSPI is a collaborative effort to create a more robust electronic portfolio application through the combined efforts of the open source community. OSPI provides users the electronic portfolio code, free of charge, through an open-source license agreement. Users are encouraged to share their improvements with others in the community, in hopes of creating a better electronic portfolio application.

In addition to the University of Minnesota, initial OSPI partners include the University of Delaware, and The RSmart Group of Phoenix, Arizona. Established in January 2003, OSPI was set up to work collaboratively towards the creation of electronic portfolio solutions with common function, naming, and technical standards available in robust computing environments free of ties to proprietary software. Announcements about OSPI, including demonstrations and details about obtaining the code, are available at the OSPI Web site at <>.

Nerdi Web on Science and the Internet

Contributed by:
Paul Wouters
Networked Research and Digital Information (Nerdi)
The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Nerdi, <>, is the Website of a new interdisciplinary research group at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in Amsterdam: Networked Research and Digital Information (Nerdi). Our approach is informed by science and technology studies, and communication and information sciences. We wish to study how the use of new information and communication technologies shapes the production of knowledge. To do this, we focus on the role of digital information and on the networked character of research in the sciences, social science and humanities.

Informational and communicational turns

Our main hypothesis is that the sciences, social sciences and humanities are in the midst of informational and communicational turns. These have important, yet largely unchartered implications for research. To map these consequences, we wish to answer the following questions:

  • What use are researchers making of (new) information and communication technologies?
  • Which changes in science, social science, and the humanities can be observed as a consequence of these uses?
  • Which implications do these changes have for the dynamics of knowledge creation?
  • Which new social science methodologies and research techniques to study these processes can be developed using the Internet and the Web?


The Nerdi Website gives up-to-date information about the members of the group, the research programme, and the various projects in which Nerdi is involved. The research is organized in four different themes of research:

  1. collaboration in research practices and research networks
  1. quality control of knowledge and knowledge creation
  1. stratification processes in scientific and scholarly networks
  1. Web based social science methodologies

Among others, Nerdi coordinates a Fifth Framework programme on quantitative Web indicators. Recently, a new project about the role of metaphors in scientific databases was funded by the Dutch national science foundation NWO. Nerdi has also acted as expert on the issue of data sharing for a working group of the OECD. This is based on a series of studies of data sharing practices and policies. These and other studies are available via the Nerdi Website. The Website also provides information about new Web-based methods that Nerdi is developing — among others the qualitative method of virtual ethnography and quantitative Webometrics techniques.


Nerdi is eager to collaborate with colleagues elsewhere, and the Website indicates the various possibilities for collaboration. We expect that our Website will provide more and more hyperlinks to our colleagues. Our aim is to develop Nerdiweb into a full-fledged portal about the new forms of knowledge production in digital networks.

The Health Education Assets Library (HEAL)

Contributed by:
Sandra McIntyre
Program Manager
Health Education Assets Library (HEAL)
Los Angeles, California, USA

Health sciences educators increasingly rely on multimedia educational materials for their teaching, but creating or finding high-quality multimedia remains a challenge for many. The Health Education Assets Library (HEAL), <>, was formed to facilitate the sharing of existing resources in a freely available digital library, with items organized in a highly searchable database of descriptive information (metadata).

HEAL was established in 2000 as a component of the National Science Digital Library with initial funding from the National Science Foundation. In collaboration with the National Library of Medicine and the Association of American Medical Colleges, the HEAL team has set up partnerships with numerous faculty, medical schools, and other organizations that maintain collections of health sciences resources. HEAL has co-directors at three institutions: Sebastian Uijtdehaage, Ph.D., at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; Sharon Dennis, M.S., at the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library at the University of Utah; and Chris Candler, M.D., at the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine.

Currently, the HEAL collection is comprised of a limited set of images, videos and audio files, many of which are premier resources in their fields. Eventually, the library will consist of tens of thousands of high-quality multimedia items, including additional file types, covering a wide scope of health education topics, including patient and consumer health. The goal is a sizable, diversified collection available through a single web-based application that seamlessly accesses a distributed network of related collections. A second grant from the National Science Foundation currently supports this collection development.

Each item in the HEAL digital library is described by a set of metadata, such as title, keywords, usage rights, etc. — twenty-six elements in all, of which eight are required. The HEAL team developed its metadata standard following research into a number of metadata standards developed by national and international standards organizations. The resulting customized metadata schema is based on the Educause IMS, which in turn builds on both the Dublin Core and IEEE Learning Objects Metadata (LOM). Educause IMS is extended to include additional health sciences-related elements, including specimen type, radiograph type, orientation, magnification, disease process, and clinical history.

HEAL resources are indexed with the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) controlled vocabulary. This hierarchical tree of health sciences-related terms is available within the HEAL application for use by searchers and contributors. Because MeSH is often not specific enough to describe resources in many sub-specialties of medicine, however, the team is now exploring the use of the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS), a meta-thesaurus that maps terminology from many different vocabularies to a central concept, including domain-specific vocabularies such as the Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine (SNOMED).

To provide online access to the multimedia resources in the database, the team has developed a web-based application, available at <>. A formal requirements analysis process determined which routines and interfaces needed to be created. The finished prototype now allows the user to search, browse, download or upload multimedia files for internal cataloging and approval tasks. Users may search by a simple text string or by combinations of metadata fields. They may also identify materials by browsing a directory organized by MeSH terms. Selected files may be added to a download folder for downloading as a group in a compressed format. Users are invited to contribute multimedia files directly to the HEAL system through a simple web-based wizard. Uploaded items are then added to an internal approval queue; a professional cataloger reviews each item against quality assurance criteria and assigns additional metadata before the item is made available to the public.

For maximal scalability, the application is organized into an n-tiered software architecture. This model of application architecture separates presentation, programming logic, and data into different tiers. The application uses non-proprietary technologies such as Java Server Pages (JSP), Java Beans, Java servlets, and eXtensible Markup Language (XML). The finished prototype is being formally user-tested this spring. Response to HEAL thus far has been excellent, with over 1300 registered users and approximately 60 interested partner organizations. More information on HEAL is available at <>.

Public Comment Period for OpenURL Standard

Contributed by:
Eric Van de Velde
Chair, NISO Committee AX
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, California, USA

At its meeting of February 6 - 7 in Washington, DC, the NISO Committee AX decided to move forward with a public-comment period and trial use of the proposed OpenURL Standard.

On March 11, the Committee released for public comment the first document of the proposed Standard. It is titled "The OpenURL Framework for Context-Sensitive Services, Part 1: ContextObject and Transport Mechanisms". This document defines the general framework for bundling specific packages of contextual metadata and transporting them over a network.

The week of March 17, the Committee will release the second document, titled "The OpenURL Framework for Context-Sensitive Services, Part 2: Initial Registry Content". This document details core properties that can be used in actual instantiations of the general framework. Part 2 can be used by some communities to implement an instantiation of the OpenURL Framework. Other communities may use Part 2 as a guideline for the definition and implementation of other instantiations.

The public-comment period started on March 12th and will last at least until April 15th. The Standard will be released for trial use sometime after April 15th. The Committee hopes to start trial use as soon as possible. However, the precise date depends on the comments received, on the Committee's response to those comments, and on progress made in developing the necessary infrastructure.

The latest version of all OpenURL documents will be available at: <>.

As this comment and trial phase begins, the NISO Committee AX is looking forward to broadening discussions. Please send your detailed comments to <> and use the following format:

Subject Line: Identify the document and the version (e.g., "Part 1, Version 20030311")
Message Body: For each error and/or comment, start a new line. Separate each comment by at least one line of blank space. Identify Section and Paragraph, and state the comment. (Please do not use page numbers as they depend on a variety of factors.)

Typographical errors will be corrected on an ongoing basis and will not be individually acknowledged. Comments that require Committee action will be posted. Comments from different contributors may be merged. When the Committee has formed a response, the response will be posted.

To avoid duplication, please check the lists of comments available on the web site before submitting a new comment.

In the News

Recent Press Releases and Announcements

IMS Forms Alliance with the Coalition for Networked Information to Further Interoperability

"Burlington, Mass. - March 13, 2003 - IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS) today announced a working alliance between IMS and CNI to explore the development of common architectural and functional models leading to joint specifications and improved technical interoperability in the rapidly evolving areas of digital libraries and learning object repositories. "

"Professor Neil McLean, Director of IMS Australia and a member of the IMS Board of Directors, is leading the initiative on behalf of IMS. He said, 'The reaching out to the library community and to all those involved in digital asset management within institutions marks an important milestone in the evolution of IMS. CNI, which brings together the information technology and library communities, is an ideal partner for this effort.' Neil McLean went on to say, 'The recently released IMS Digital Repository Interoperability Specification version 1.0 provides an excellent framework for the consultation exercise and it should provide a platform for further technical specifications.'"

"Dr. Clifford Lynch, Executive Director of CNI, observed, 'This is a very timely collaboration as higher education institutions try to sort through both the technical and organizational challenges of a landscape that is being transformed by new developments such as learning management systems and institutional repositories. The portfolio of IMS standards, and the architectural work that they have advanced over the last few years will be an essential basis for addressing these challenges.'"

For further information, read the full press release at <>.

California Digital Library's e-Sholarship Repository Reaches Major Milestones

"The California Digital Library announced today (Wednesday, March 12) that its groundbreaking eScholarship Repository has reached several major milestones. The eScholarship Repository ( offers University of California faculty a central online location for depositing working papers, technical reports, research results, datasets with commentary and peer-reviewed series. It is free for scholars to upload papers and free to users to download them."

"Launched in April 2002, the eScholarship Repository recently reached 1,200 papers. Users have logged 60,000 full-text downloads of repository scholarship. Nearly 100 UC institutes, departments, research units and centers from nine UC campuses have joined the repository. The milestones demonstrate the repository's role as a scholarly publishing and research hub as well as its growing importance in the academic community. "

"The eScholarship Repository is at the vanguard of a movement to disseminate scholarly materials at low or no cost over the Internet. The repository serves as a model for other universities, libraries and institutions around the world. It also supports peer-reviewed series, which offer scholars an alternative to for-profit journals. "

"...There are many benefits for faculty who participate in the eScholarship Repository. Faculty can expect to have increased exposure and use of their scholarly materials. They can also submit associated content, such as images, spreadsheets, datasets, or PowerPoint presentations, along with their papers. Each participating research unit and academic department has its own site within the eScholarship Repository. The group decides what goes into their repository site and is responsible for maintaining it. "

"...System administrators at institutes and departments benefit from the repository's streamlined submission, processing and posting tools, which were created by the Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress). New technology allows readers to discover and view relevant research by topic, author or sponsoring unit. Users can sign up for a service alerting them to new content, tailored to their interests. The repository's compliance with the Open Archives Initiative allows content to be more easily discovered on the Internet."

For further information, see <> and <>.

Enrich UK Experience Goes Live: Gateway Delivers World Frist in Online Learning

" Wednesday 12 March 2003 - A world first in internet access is launched today by the biggest of the National Lottery good cause distributors, the New Opportunities Fund, to deliver the EnrichUK experience across culture, history and community resources."

"The <> gateway gives one-stop access to a panorama of culture, history and community resources of museums, libraries and galleries in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It aims to help meet the public appetite for online learning across the UK."

"The EnrichUK portal draws together 150 websites funded through the initiative into a unique online collection ranging from national centres of excellence to regional 'sense of place', voluntary and community organisations and small local museums."

"...The £50 million lottery good causes money (grants announced July 2001) has allowed the 150 projects involved to digitise their images and resources so they can be accessed on the worldwide web. Using the <> site, anyone can investigate the vast collections for information and background, or simply for pleasure."

For further information, read the full press release at <>.

IMS Releases New Spec That Connects Digital Content across the Web for eLearning

"Burlington, Mass. - March 10, 2003 - IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS) today announced the release of its new Digital Repositories Interoperability (DRI) specification. DRI v1.0 defines a specific set of functions and protocols that enable diverse eLearning components to communicate with each other. These functions and protocols draw on XML technologies such as SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and XQuery, and established technologies such as Z39.50, developed by the library community. The specification acknowledges a wide range of content formats and is applicable internationally to both learning object repositories, as well as to other traditional content sources such as libraries and museum collections. The specification is available to the public without charge at <>. "

For further information, read the full press release at <>.

Committee on the Future of Supercomputing Holds First Meeting

"The Committee on the Future of Supercomputing held its first meeting on March 6 - 7, 2003 in Washington, DC."

"The committee will assess the status of supercomputing in the United States, including the characteristics of relevant systems and architecture research in government, industry, and academia and the characteristics of the relevant market. The committee will examine key elements of context — the history of supercomputing, the erosion of research investment, the needs of government agencies for supercomputing capabilities — and assess options for progress. Key historical or causal factors will be identified. The committee will examine the changing nature of problems demanding supercomputing (e.g., weapons design, molecule modeling and simulation, cryptanalysis, bioinformatics, climate modeling) and the implications for systems design. It will seek to understand the role of national security in the supercomputer market and the long-term federal interest in supercomputing. An interim report will be delivered July, 2003. The committee's work will culminate in a report of its assessment, including recommendations, which will be disseminated in relevant segments of government, industry, and the academic research community."

For further information, please see <>.

JISC and NSF to Collaborate on Major Digital Initiative

"Press Release: February 24 2003, Alicia Wise, Joint Information Systems Committee"

"The JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) and the US National Science Foundation (NSF) have agreed to fund a programme which will provide exciting new content and a range of benefits to education sectors on both sides of the Atlantic. The five-year programme, called 'Digital Libraries in the Classroom' will cost around #pound;6 million ($9.5 million) and will draw on best practice in the creation and delivery of content from both the UK and the US, resulting in a range of resources in four key subject areas."

"The focus of the programme is to investigate and exploit the potential of online resources in learning and teaching across a range of pre-selected subject disciplines. But a key focus for each of the projects across the programme will be to combine the application of sound pedagogic principles in the creation, delivery and use of online materials, with new research to develop the underlying information technology. The result will be resources that will provide exemplars for the provision of digital resources in disciplines beyond the ones chosen for development."

"The programme consists of four projects, each of which will pool the resources and expertise of British and US Universities with long and distinguished track records in the use of information and communication technologies. The projects are:"

  • The Spoken Word: New resources for transforming teaching and learning - Glasgow Caledonian University, Northwestern University, Michigan State University
  • Teaching and Learning Anthropology: Using 'scalable' digital library platforms and innovations in approaches to content - London School of Economics and Columbia University
  • Digital Libraries in Support of Innovative Approaches to Teaching and Learning in Geography: - University of Southampton, University of Leeds, University of California, Santa Barbara, and University of Pennsylvania
  • Accelerating Globally Distributed Team Innovation: University of Strathclyde and Stanford University

For further information, please contact:

Rachel Bruce - JISC

Stephen M. Griffin - National Science Foundation


Copyright 2003 Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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DOI: 10.1045/march2003-inbrief