Clips & Pointers


D-Lib Magazine
May 2005

Volume 11 Number 5

ISSN 1082-9873

In Brief


NISO's OpenURL: Matching the Query to the Result

Contributed by:
Pat Harris
Executive Director
National Information Standards Organization (NISO)
Bethesda, Maryland, USA

NISO's new OpenURL standard solves problems for information seekers and creates opportunities for information businesses. Originally targeted at the electronic delivery of scholarly journal articles, The OpenURL Framework for Context-Sensitive Services (NISO Z39.88-2004) was then generalized to empower communities beyond the original audience to define and deploy their own context-sensitive service environments. From retailing to real estate, the standard has value wherever context-sensitive services are important.

Clicking on an OpenURL link sends bibliographic information in it to a networked service. Instead of getting back anything and everything, the user gets immediate access to the most appropriate copy of that resource. "Appropriateness" reflects the user's context such as location, cost of the item, and contractual or license agreements in place with information suppliers.

Eric F. Van de Velde, Director of Library Information Technology at the California Institute of Technology, chaired the NISO Committee that developed the OpenURL standard. Before its April 15, 2005 approval by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), it had been in trial use since June 2003 and is now deployed in Google Scholar.

Both an FAQ on the standard and the standard itself are available free on the NISO website at <> and <>, respectively. The FAQ includes a technical overview of what ANSI/NISO Z39.88 covers.

Report on the First CASHMERE-int Workshop

Contributed by:
Dr. Heike Neuroth
Research & Development - DINI Secretary
Goettingen State and University Library (SUB)
Goettingen, Germany

The first CASHMERE-int workshop took place from 28 February to 2 March 2005 at Goettingen State and University Library. The workshop focused on the latest developments in the fields of semantic web, preservation, and tools for web services.

Highlights of this workshop were the key note speech by Tom Baker (Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, <>) on the Semantic Web, and the presentation about "Tools development with registry web services" by Harry Wagner (OCLC, <>). The main goal of the workshop was to present the different facets of long-term preservation and to foster the information exchange in the community. Of special interest were the following standards and standardisation activities: METS <>, PREMIS <>, LMER <>. In addition, the two projects: KOPAL <> and nestor <> were presented. KOPAL showed first results on its way to developing a technical solution in the form of a reusable long-term archive. The presentation about the nestor project emphasized the accessibility of digitized data. (All presentations can be found at <>.)

In a brainstorming meeting on the third day of the workshop, the DCMI (Dublin Core Metadata Initiative) Tools Working Group set the course for their future work, which will distributed via the respective DC mailing lists.

The acronym CASHMERE-int ( stands for "Content Analysis Standards development Heterogeneity Metadata Retrieval – Semantic Web Development and Transmission". It is part of the competence network project that is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), <>. CASHMERE-int focuses on new services, standardisation and metadata. Project partners are the Mathematics/Computer Science Faculty of Osnabrueck University (, the "Institut für wissenschaftliche Information e.V." ( and the Goettingen State and University Library (

Writing a Workbook for Archivists and Curators of Digital Private Papers – the Paradigm Project

Contributed by:
Susan Thomas
Project Manager & Digital Archivist
Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
Oxford, England

Paradigm (Personal Archives Accessible in Digital Media) is a two-year JISC-funded project to explore the issues involved in selecting, taking-in, managing, cataloguing, and providing long-term access to digital private papers. The project partners are the University of Oxford and the University of Manchester, whose important research libraries, the Bodleian Library and the John Rylands University Library, have collected the private papers of politicians, and other notable individuals, for many years.

The quantity of literature relating to digital collection management and preservation is growing all the time; so are the tools and standards which support these activities. In spite of this growth, there remains little research which deals specifically with the important area of digital personal materials; this project aims to fill that gap by learning from existing literature and tools, and applying what is learnt to the curation of digital private papers. Since the project began in January, we have approached several politicians and asked them for permission to use their private papers (digital and otherwise) as exemplar collections, so that we can find out exactly what being a digital archivist entails. To date, six politicians have agreed to participate.

How precisely do we accession someone's digital private papers? What procedures are required to guarantee the authenticity of the records? How should we decide what to collect? How does the digital landscape alter our dealings with potential depositors? What changes need to be incorporated into our metadata schemas? How should our policies and procedures be adapted? What kind of access can we provide? What legislation do we need to be aware of? These questions, and many more, are the concern of our project. Throughout, we will be considering how traditional archival processes, and the theory which underpins them, can work alongside OAIS-based workflows operating within digital repositories such as DSpace and Fedora.

The major output of the project will be an online workbook on managing digital private papers. The workbook, written as the project progresses, will attempt to distill the experiences of the project into some best-practice guidance for policy makers, archivists and IT professionals. The workbook will also provide templates for depositor agreements, METS schemas, policy and procedural documents, and personal record surveys. We sincerely hope that this will be of use to the archival community at large, and to others engaged in the preservation of digital materials. It would be extremely useful to the project if archivists and manuscript curators who are thinking about, or already working with, digital private papers, would be willing to talk to us about their needs and efforts in this area. For further information about the project, please visit the project website, <>, or contact me directly at <>.

ReDReSS – Resource Discovery for Researchers in e-Social Science

Contributed by:
Adrian Fish, Portal Systems Developer
Audrienne Cutajar Bezzina, Learning Technologist
Lancaster University
Lancaster, Lancashire, United Kingdom


Two UK funding bodies, the JISC and the ESRC, fund the ReDReSS project. The project was funded to help fill a perceived knowledge gap in the social sciences – the particular knowledge gap in question being an ignorance of the benefit that grid computing techniques could give to their day-to-day research.

Social scientists are currently, in the main, comfortable with using datasets and analysis tools on their office workstations. By using grid computing resources and online collaboration tools in concert, it is hoped that their productivity will be increased by orders of magnitude. ReDReSS intends to provide structured tutorials and materials to help them acquire the necessary skills and awareness to approach grid-computing techniques. The general aims of the project, then, are:

  1. To generate, or source, individual pieces of material about grid computing, suitable for consumption by social scientists.
  2. To provide software to help authors to glue the individual pieces of material together into coherent tutorials – saved in the IMS Learning Design or Simple Sequencing XML formats.
  3. To provide a method of playing back these tutorials from within the Sakai ( portal environment, using either the CopperCore Learning Design ( or the ISIS ( Simple Sequencing players.


There are several software outputs for the ReDReSS project. These are:

  1. An indexing tool that crawls supplied URLs and carries out a full textual analysis, with the aim of identifying the subject and difficulty of the document. This information is encoded, along with basic document information like author and created date, as Dublin Core (DC) and IMS Metadata (a.k.a. IEEE LOM) labels in a database.
  2. A web service that runs SOAP encoded queries over the metadata database, based on values supplied for specific DC labels.
  3. A piece of desktop software, LDCue, that calls the metadata service with user-supplied parameters and displays the matching URIs on the screen. These URIs can then be dragged and dropped into a tool from another JISC project, the RELOAD IMS Learning Design editor (see

The aim of the indexing tool, metadata service, LDCue and RELOAD, when used together is to provide a tool chain to allow authors to create tutorials, described using IMS Learning Design, both from materials that they know and from materials that the indexing tool has identified – materials that the author may well have no direct familiarity with. All of the produced software will be open sourced, probably using the Lesser Gnu Public License.

In the News

Excerpts from Recent Press Releases and Announcements

National Commission Seeks Expanded Health Information Role for Libraries
NCLIS Recommends Private/Public Partnership for Conducting Study

May 11, 2005 - "The U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) today called on President George W. Bush and Congressional leaders to support libraries as health information distribution centers. This specific role for libraries – already successful in many communities – will position libraries as the central resource for providing citizens with consumer health information, particularly when they require health information in a critical or unusual situation, and for helping citizens learn how to live a healthy lifestyle."

"The Commission's recommendation is included in a transmittal letter addressed to President Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, as President of the Senate, and Speaker Dennis Hastert of the U.S. House of Representatives. In the letter, which accompanies a Commission report describing award-winning health communication programs already in place in libraries, NCLIS Chairman Dr. Beth Fitzsimmons advises the President and Congress to 'authorize the creation of a private/public partnership to study how libraries can be positioned to serve as their communities' knowledge nexus for health information.' The recommended partnership, according to Dr. Fitzsimmons, will be made up of leaders from government agencies concerned with healthcare, from the several healthcare professions, from the commercial sector, and from the library and information science profession. Its task will be to investigate how libraries can serve as citizen health information centers for their respective communities."

The full press release, which is the source of the excerpt above, also mentions an NCLIS report "Libraries and Health Communication: Model Programs in Health Information Provided by Libraries Throughout the Nation – The 2004 NCLIS Blue Ribbon Consumer Health Information Recognition Awards for Libraries." It can be viewed at:

For more information, please see the full press release at <>.

CLIR Board Elects New Members

May 9, 2005 - "The Board of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) elected six new members at its semiannual meeting April 29:"

  • Charles Brown, Director of Libraries, Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County;
  • Mark Dimunation, Assistant Director for Special Collections and Rare Book and Special Collections Division Chief, Library of Congress;
  • Wendy Pradt Lougee, University Librarian, University of Minnesota;
  • Claudia Lux, Director General, Central and Regional Library of Berlin;
  • Stephen Nichols, James M. Beall Professor of French and Humanities and Chair, Department of Romance Languages, The Johns Hopkins University; and
  • S. Georgia Nugent, President, Kenyon College."

For more information, please see the full press release at <>.

Dr. Trudi Bellardo Hahn Named NCLIS Executive Director
National Commission Hires Interim Director to Manage Agency

May 9, 2005 - "The U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) today announced that Dr. Trudi Bellardo Hahn has been named Executive Director for the Commission."

"Dr. Hahn, who has served as the Commission's Interim Executive Director since November, was named to the position on April 30. Prior to coming to the Commission, Dr. Hahn was Manager of Library User Education Services and Adjunct Professor at the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, with prior positions as training specialist with the Maryland State Department of Education, Director of Professional Development for the Special Libraries Association, Associate Professor at Catholic University, and Assistant Professor and Data Services Librarian at the University of Kentucky. "

"...Dr. Beth Fitzsimmons, the Commission's Chairman, spoke highly of Dr. Hahn's wide experience in the library and information science profession. 'Dr. Hahn is highly qualified to manage NCLIS at this time. With her great contacts in the field, Dr. Hahn will be able to lead the Commission into any number of strategic partnerships and collaborative relationships, and help the Commission in its efforts to achieve its goals. We are all very pleased to have her as the Commission's Executive Director.'"

"The U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) is a permanent, independent agency of the Federal government charged by Public Law 91-345 to advise the President and Congress on national and international library and information policies, to appraise and assess the adequacies and deficiencies of library and information resources and services, and to develop overall plans for meeting national library and information needs."

For more information, please see the full press release at <>.

National Science Foundation and Library of Congress Announce Digital Preservation Awards (Press Release 05-074)

May 6, 2005 - "Digital is now the method of choice to create, distribute and store content, from text to motion pictures to recorded sound. Accordingly, much of the nation's intellectual, social and cultural history is now in digital format, necessitating a new focus on its preservation and continued availability."

"To help solve this digital dilemma, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Library of Congress (LoC) have made 11 awards totaling $2.5 million through their newly established Digital Archiving and Long-Term Preservation program (DIGARCH). This research will contribute to the Library's 2000 Congressional initiative, the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). NDIIPP is a national, collaborative effort led by LoC to continue to fulfill its mission to 'sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations' in the digital age."

"...DIGARCH's first call for proposals netted 65 submissions that focused on at least one of the following required areas: 1) digital repository models, 2) tools, technologies, and processes, and 3) organizational, economic, and policy issues. The projects were expected to take advantage of new and innovative research methods and to identify next-generation library information infrastructures."

"The awards range from $99,000 to $500,000 to perform one to three years of research. The projects cover research on continued access of data to the prevention of data deterioration and from software and hardware technologies to the development of new data formats and standards."

For more information, please see the full press release at <>.

Institute of Museum and Library Services Announces Grants

May 6, 2005 - "The Institute of Museum and Library Services, the primary source of federal funds for the nation's museums and libraries, announced 327 grants totaling $4,033,455 in three grant categories to museums across the country. The Institute received 467 grant applications for myriad projects, including critical conservation; environmental surveys, museum operations assessments, and professional training. Museums of all disciplines, from art to zoo, are awarded."

"For a list of ALL grants organized by state and grant category, please access: <>."

"To read the individual press releases for each of three grant categories announced, please access:

"This is the first of four grant rounds the Institute will announce for FY 2005. The second grant round will be announced mid-June."

For more information, please see <>.

Unleashing the full force of the law: JISC and BAILII agreement will make legal resources openly available to all

May 5, 2005 - "A major new agreement will digitise thousands of core legal judgments and law reports and for the first time make these freely and openly available electronically. JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) and BAILII (British and Irish Legal Information Institute) today announced the Open Law project which has the potential to transform the delivery of legal teaching and public access to legal materials in the UK."

"Access to case reports and legislation are central to the teaching of law and the development of legal skills. Open Law will therefore focus on the core needs of staff and students on law courses at all levels. It will include around 200 of the most cited judgments in each of the core areas of the law course syllabus. Other non-core areas will also be covered, so that staff and students dealing with legal issues on non-law courses such as accounting and business, environmental management, planning and social work, will also benefit. The digitisation of these judgments and other reports means that the project will digitise a total over 40,000 pages."

"The heavy use of standard legal resources in both print and online form, the restriction of certain materials to reference libraries and their cost have meant that the availability of key materials has always been a challenge for law departments across the country. JISC's and BAILII's commitment to open access principles in this project will mean that the general public will also be able to access the most important legal materials for free."

For more information, please see the full press release at <>.

The American Association of Museums Honors Institute of Museum and Library Services Director Robert S. Martin, PhD for Distinguished Service

May 3, 2005 - "The Board of Directors of the American Association of Museums presented a resolution honoring Dr. Robert S. Martin, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services at its annual meeting in Indianapolis yesterday. Appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the US Senate as director of the Institute in 2001, Dr. Martin's term ends in July."

"'I am deeply honored by this recognition,' remarked Dr. Martin. 'During my tenure as Director of the Institute, I very much enjoyed working with the museum community. Museums and libraries are essential to education in America. I am proud of the work we've done at the Institute to help libraries and museums address issues of concern to our communities and to our nation. Together we have worked to improve literacy, further school reform, preserve artistic and cultural heritage, enhance global understanding, and stimulate creativity.'"

"During his four years as director, the Institute has awarded 4,318 grants, totaling more than $861 million dollars. These federal grants help museums and libraries advance their public mission with funding for educational programs, community outreach, leadership development, and care and digitization of collections. The Institute's grant programs have been critical to maintaining the high standards that characterize America's museums and libraries."

For more information, please see the full press release at <>.

NISO's OpenURL Now a National Standard
Z39.88 Defines Architecture for Creating a Context-Sensitive Networked Service Environment

May 2, 2005 - "The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) has announced that The OpenURL Framework for Context-Sensitive Services (NISO Z39.88-2004) has received approval as an American National Standard."

"The OpenURL standard allows for the emergence of many different web-based service environments in which context is taken into account. For example, in a service environment supporting the scholarly information community, a researcher or student searching for a scholarly information resource can obtain immediate access to the most appropriate copy of that resource. "Appropriateness" reflects the user's context, such as location, cost, and contractual or license agreements in place with information suppliers. The OpenURL provides a crucial service because Web links typically do not take the user into account and, by default, take all users to the same target."

"'The OpenURL standard is enjoying much wider uptake than we'd first envisioned,' noted Pat Harris, NISO Executive Director. 'Originally we targeted it at the electronic delivery of scholarly journal articles, but then generalized the Framework to empower communities beyond the original audience to define and deploy their own context-sensitive service environments.' The standard had been in trial use since June 2003 and was most recently deployed in Google Scholar."

"Background on OpenURL
As the World Wide Web began its explosive growth in the early 1990s, the scholarly-information community made available digital scholarly materials consisting of metadata and full-text content. As this body of materials grew, it became increasingly difficult to provide adequate links between related information assets, distributed across many collections and controlled by different custodians. In 1999, NISO initiated an effort to improve reference linking. Herbert Van de Sompel, now with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, developed a system of context-sensitive linking, based upon a new type of URL, the OpenURL, and it provided the foundation for what has become ANSI/NISO Z39.88. "

"About NISO
NISO, a non-profit association accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), identifies, develops, maintains, and publishes technical standards to manage information in our changing and ever-more digital environment. NISO standards apply both traditional and new technologies to the full range of information-related needs, including retrieval, re-purposing, storage, metadata, and preservation. NISO Standards, information about NISO's activities and membership are featured on the NISO website"

Nationwide Award to Spotlight Libraries with Model Health Information Programs
National Library Commission Will Announce Award Initiative at Kick-Off Event

May 2, 2005 - "Libraries that excel in providing health information and promoting healthy lifestyles will now be nationally recognized. The U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) today announced the first nationwide award for libraries with exemplary consumer health information programs. Over the course of a year, the NCLIS Health Award for Libraries initiative will identify libraries in each state with outstanding health information programs. In May 2006 a top winning library will be announced and representatives from that library will travel to Washington, D.C. to receive a $20,000 cash prize."

"The NCLIS Health Award for Libraries initiative was launched tonight at a special gathering of library and health professionals at the National Agricultural Library, in Beltsville, Maryland. Chief officers of state library agencies from across the U.S. and its territories – together with some 200 other leaders committed to health communication and health literacy – turned out to launch the award program. The state library leaders were recognized for their work in the Commission's pilot awards program, given in 2004 to 37 libraries which were identified by their states' leaders as having notable health programs."

"...NCLIS Chairman Dr. Beth Fitzsimmons announced the NCLIS Health Award for Libraries, pointing out that since strengthening the relevance of libraries is one of the Commission's goals, 'I can't think of a better way to do that than to encourage libraries to take the lead in providing consumer health information.'"

For more information, please see the full press release at <>.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awards grants to WebJunction

April 21, 2005 - "WebJunction, the online community of library staff dedicated to sharing knowledge and experience to provide the broadest public access to information technology, has been awarded three grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to expand the community's opportunities for learning and sharing."

"The grants, totaling more than $8 million over three years, will make it possible for WebJunction to offer new tools and services that allow public libraries to make the most of their public access computing programs, provide local workshops for rural library staffs, and better meet the technology needs of Spanish speakers in their communities."

For more information, please see <>.

US Department of Education Funds Yale Library's Middle East Virtual Library Project

April 20, 2005 - "The Yale Library announced today that its proposal to develop A Middle East Electronic Library (AMEEL) has been funded at a level of $750,000 over four years. This grant was awarded under the US Department of Education's Title VI TICFIA (Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Foreign Information Access) Program. This program provides grants to institutions of higher education, public or nonprofit libraries, or combinations of these institutions or libraries to develop innovative techniques or programs using new electronic technologies to access, collect, organize, preserve, and widely disseminate information on world regions and countries other than the US in order to address our nation's teaching and research needs in international education and foreign languages."

"Under the four-year term of the AMEEL grant, which begins as of 1 October 2005, Yale library staff will lead and coordinate, in conjunction with publishing, library, and other partners around the world, a collaborative virtual library project that will make available important Middle Eastern resources, in a four-part initiative: it will (1) develop an infrastructure for digital content, from diverse sources (freely available as well as publisher licensed) to be integrated into AMEEL; (2) digitize key journals on and about the Middle East, with particular emphasis on fully searchable Arabic texts; (3) build and expand capacity for Arabic full text scanning into US and other libraries through workshops developed and led by experts in this area; and (4) develop technologies and protocols to facilitate interlibrary lending between US and Middle Eastern libraries."

"For more information please contact Ann Okerson, Associate University Librarian, collections & international programs, Yale University, Phone: 01-203-432-1764, Fax: 01-203-432-8527, E-mail: <>."

JSTOR Announces New Biological Sciences Collection

April 13, 2005 - "JSTOR is developing a new Biological Sciences Collection that will contain the complete back-runs of at least 100 scholarly journals in the field, the organization announced today. The collection will introduce titles in academic areas that are new to the JSTOR archive, such as cell biology and zoology, and will offer greater depth in fields now offered through the existing Ecology & Botany Collection such as biodiversity, conservation, paleontology, and plant science. To develop the collection, JSTOR has partnered with two leading organizations in biological science publishing, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) and BioOne."

"JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to create and maintain a trusted archive of important scholarly journals while extending access to those journals as broadly as possible. The Biological Sciences Collection is JSTOR's 12th collection and will add more than 70 new titles to the 29 journals now available through the Ecology & Botany Collection. (Ecology & Botany will remain available as a stand alone collection; its journals will also be available immediately as part of the larger Biological Sciences Collection.) Content will be released periodically beginning in mid-2005 and will be completed by the end of 2007. "

For more information, please contact Hilary Dunst <>.

Copyright 2005 © Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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