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In Brief


D-Lib Magazine
September 2000

Volume 6 Number 9

ISSN 1082-9873

In Brief

LITA Internet Resources Interest Group Report: Library Web Sites - The Next Generation

Contributed by:
Denise Babin (Secretary, Internet Resources Interest Group, LITA)
Head of Automation
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Library
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

On Monday, July 10, 2000, at ALA 2000 in Chicago, a panel of five experts discussed designing and maintaining effective, usable, and accessible library Web sites.


Stu Baker
Northwestern University Library
"Rethinking and Reworking the Web at Northwestern University Library"

Stu discussed the reworking of Northwestern’s Library Web site, to address problems that came up after six years of growth of the site: distributed authorship, inadequate tools, information out of date and not maintained, staff turnover, and a site designed around the organization’s structure instead of around the needs of the patrons. He covered the committee structure, goals, steps of the project, and the outcomes, including some surprises.

Angi Faiks and Martha Walker
Cornell University
"Creating an Online Help System in a Gateway Environment"

CU launched their Web gateway in January 1998 -- a gateway to all library services including approximately 2800 networked resources. The need for online assistance immediately became obvious. Six librarians and 2 technical experts met to develop a single online help area that integrated all 100+ help topics in an easy-to-use and flexible help system. One highlight of the Help system is the Computer Setup page in the Technical area. It includes a list of 7 plugins needed to access various services. Next to each item is a test button so users can see whether the plugin is already correctly configured on their browsers.

The Help system is currently available on the Cornell University Library gateway <>. It went live in August 1999.

Helen Blowers
Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County
"Extending Traditional Library Roles on the WWW"

PLCM has created multiple "Service Sites" -- individual separate Web sites, each focussed on a particular traditional library service. Some of them include:

<> (Adults’ Readers’ Advisory)
< > (Children’s Readers’ Advisory)
<> (Business Web site)
<> (Local history repository)
<> (Children's programming)
<> (Consumer health information)
<> (Access to research tools -- portal pages targeted to middle school students.)

The Web Development Team consists of a Web Coordinator, a Web programmer, and a graphics designer. They develop prototypes and finished pages. They work with library staff to develop content. Updating is done by the content team, using Web-based tools developed by the Web Development team.

Helene demonstrated the Healthlink Plus Maintenance Web site. Users can edit categories, sub-categories, and sub-sub-categories, add or change URLs and Books, and assign URLs and books to one or more categories or sub-categories.

Susan McMullen
Roger Williams University
"Usability Testing for Library Web Site Redesign"

Sue discussed several types of usability tests, including: observational studies, surveys, focus groups, card-sorting, heuristic evaluation, and cognitive walk-throughs. She covered the methodology for the observational studies generally done at RWU, including the actual questions used during a recent usability study.

Some discoveries of note in 1999:

  • Students don’t know what a database or an index is.
  • Students don’t read the whole page.
  • Nobody looked at the research guides.

The slides from all presentations and contact information for all the presenters is available at the LITA Internet Resources Interest Group Web page at: <>.

Note: Carol Casey of Dupre Library at the University of Southwestern Louisiana was not able to be present at the conference, but there is a link to her article "Accessibility in the Virtual Library: Creating Equal Opportunity Web Sites" at <>. She had been scheduled to speak on accessibility issues in Web site design.

European Museums' Information Institute - European Standards Survey

Contributed by:
Christina Brown
Standards Assistant
European Museums' Information Institute (EMII)
Cambridge, United Kindom

The European Museums' Information Institute (EMII) (, funded under the EC Raphael programme, was launched a year ago at the mda ( / CIDOC ( Conference held in London. EMII is a pan European network which aims to:

  • Facilitate on-line access to the cultural heritage of Europe's museums,
  • Create long term partnerships between museums throughout Europe,
  • Promote a European focus for international initiatives.

The European Standards Survey ( was researched and developed between October and December 1999. Throughout the development process, the emphasis was on whether the information gained from questions would be informative, but without being influenced by whether the steering committee felt they and the other partners would be able to answer the questions. Therefore the "validity" of questions was not based on the availability of data to answer them. Once agreement was reached, the survey was placed as a set of forms on the password protected "partners pages" of the EMII site in December 1999.

The survey is arranged in four sections:

  1. National Overview
  2. Procedural Standards, Rules and Guidelines
  3. Information Management Standards
  4. Future Vision

In total, the survey contained 94 fields of which 40 were optional or sub fields, leaving a core of 54 questions or, multiplied by 10 partners: 540 questions. The response rate per country to this core was very good and between 68% and 94%.

National Overview summarised:

  • Our partner organisations represent an estimated 16,000 museums, employing around 93,000 people in fulltime equivalent posts. Iceland has the fewest museums at 51 and Germany the most at 5,752.
  • A disappointingly low number of museums formally subscribe to the ICOM Code of Ethics. One country reported that none of its museums subscribe to the code and six countries estimated the number of their subscribers to be below 50%.
  • 6/10 of the partners have an organisation responsible for co-ordinating museum documentation and information management standards.
  • 9/10 of the partners were able to estimate how much cultural heritage is documented and at least 7 countries have more than 60% of their collections documented.
  • 9/10 of the partners have national documentation guidelines.
  • 31% of the museums record object information digitally.

We have the ingredients to generate meaningful content for diverse audiences. 72% of collections are documented. 6/10 of the partners have an organisation responsible for co-ordinating museum documentation and information management standards and 9/10 have national guidelines for documentation.

However, the constraints are that much of this documentation is still in manual format. Although 31% of museums report they are recording information digitally, only 4 countries could estimate how much. Of this digital information only a very small percentage, 15.5%, is detailed, i.e., the raw material for meaningful content.

EMII is dependent on this detailed content to meet our mission. Clearly, we need to identify ways in which EMII can increase the pace of digitisation. We are fortunate that the current European political climate is favourable. This is demonstrated by Commission initiatives such as the recently launched eEurope initiative which aims to create a digitally literate Europe through 10 priority action areas ranging from cheaper Internet access to ecommerce.

The PRIDE Project Launches a Demonstrator of a Directory of Library Users and Services

Contributed by:
Andrew Colleran
PRIDE Project Manager
Quercus Information Ltd
Oxford, United Kingdom

An information infrastructure for the library world

The PRIDE project has launched a demonstrator of a directory system that is a model for an information infrastructure for the library community, and potentially the key to interoperability. The directory is a place to store descriptive information about organisations, services, people. It can store information such as addresses of libraries, descriptions of their print and electronic collections, details of services (ILL, Z39.50, web based). Maintenance of a PRIDE directory is distributed, so that those with the most current information about details of a service maintain information about it. PRIDE has developed a number of agents and harvesters to maintain the directory largely automatically.

At the moment there is no one systematic source of information about libraries, library services and other services relevant to libraries such as web based databases or electronic journals. For librarians and users, it makes knowing even where to begin an information search difficult and haphazard, for example, looking for the telephone number of an ILL department or the URL of an online database or technical details about a Z39.50 server. In other words, there is a lack of adequate information infrastructure. The key to creating this infrastructure is interoperability. The PRIDE Project has addressed the various technical components required to sustain access management and interoperability in a global distributed information services environment.

Based on open standards

The core of the service is based on distributed directory technology, using X.500 and LDAP. Software Agents harvest Z39.50 and RDF records to populate and update the directory automatically. The web-based PRIDE Universal Client (PUC), the main access route into the system, for users and administrators, shows how this technology can be made to work to deliver benefits to the library community.

The Benefits of PRIDE

Examples of the use of the PRIDE directory as an information repository for access and update by humans and software clients and agents are:

  • Search for a strong collection of books on ecclesiastical history - check access, email those who manage the collection and connect to the online OPAC, if available
  • Log directly into a password protected site, without having to remember a password (the PUC uses an 'Access Profile')
  • Import metadata about users, organisations and other resources stored in RDF or XML into the directory (via the RDF Harvester)
  • Collect information about Z39.50 service configurations (Z39.50 Explain Harvester)
  • Search multiple databases, without having to manually configure suitable targets (Z39.50 Proxy)

Contact for PRIDE

Project Manager: Andrew Colleran; email: <>.

A public demonstrator site is at: <> (with documentation). Other demonstrators are listed at <>.

Funded under the Telematics for Libraries programme of the European Commission, the PRIDE web site gives more information about the ideas behind the project and has a link to a full press release: <>.

Two Press Releases from the U.S. Department of Energy

Contributed by:
Walter L. Warnick
Director, Office of Scientific and Technical Information
U.S. Department of Energy
Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA

Workshop Envisions National Information Infrastructure for the Physical Sciences (Press Release July 27, 2000)

"The time is now, the need is now" was the conclusion of a workshop held May 30-31, 2000, at the National Academy of Sciences to address issues and gaps in communicating and using information in the physical sciences. A panel of distinguished experts in science, science policy, information science, and scientific publishing envisions a far-reaching, comprehensive information infrastructure for the physical sciences to increase the productivity of the scientific enterprise in the United States.

Hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy, the workshop was chaired by Dr. Alvin W. Trivelpiece, former Director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Workshop panelists included R. Stephen Berry, University of Chicago; Martin Blume, American Physical Society; Jose-Marie Griffiths, University of Michigan; Lee Holcomb, National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Kirk McDonald, Princeton University; Krishna Rajan, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Kent Smith, National Library of Medicine; and Derek Winstanley, Illinois State Water Survey. In addition, nineteen other attendees participated in workshop deliberations.

Results of the workshop have been issued in the "Workshop Report on a Future Information Infrastructure for the Physical Sciences," available electronically at <>. Scientists are changing the way science is being done, and traditional means of access to the scholarly record are no longer sufficient to meet researchers' needs and expectations. Rapid advances in information technology are dramatically altering the nature of scientific communications and are providing ways to realize what could only be envisioned in the past. The report emphasizes that the ability to compete is based on an ability to know quickly.

The workshop findings support the need for a common knowledge base that provides comprehensive access and facilitates the reuse of worldwide sources of physical sciences information as well as a point of convergence for ensuring awareness, availability, use and development of information, technologies, and tools. The workshop report notes that the Department of Energy's Office of Scientific and Technical Information could well serve as this point of convergence and lead an initiative through a collaborative effort that encompasses government, industry, academia, and professional associations.

Information Contact: Dr. Walter L. Warnick, Director, Office of Scientific and Technical Information, (301) 903-7996, <>.


New Internet Tools Enhance Access to Federal Information (Press Release, August 14, 2000)

Two innovative new Internet tools have been created in collaboration with several government agencies that improve access to scientific and technical research information across the Federal Government. Developed by the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI), GrayLIT Network <> and Federal R&D Project Summaries <> provide the capability to search documents with a single query across databases of many Federal agencies to find and combine information regardless of where it happens to reside. With these new tools, it is no longer necessary for a user to know which agency is working in a particular area or discipline.

GrayLIT Network provides a portal for over 100,000 full-text technical reports located at the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Collections in the GrayLIT collaboration include the DOE Information Bridge; the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) Report Collection; the EPA National Environmental Publications Internet Site (NEPIS); the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab Reports; and the NASA Langley Technical Reports.

Federal R&D Project Summaries includes more than 240,000 research summaries and awards by three of the major sponsors of research in the Federal government. The Federal databases available via this tool are the Department of Energy R&D Project Summaries; the National Institutes of Health (NIH) CRISP (Computer Retrieval of Information on Scientific Projects) Current Awards; and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Award Data.

These tools support an interdisciplinary view of science by providing scientists and engineers the opportunity to look beyond their Agency's specializations and to access relevant information from other disciplines. They are the early successes of a new information infrastructure in the physical sciences. From a recent workshop of distinguished experts in science and information held at the National Academy of Sciences, a vision emerged of a future information infrastructure for physical sciences that will benefit not just the scientific community but the national good <>.

GrayLIT Network and Federal R&D Project Summaries are being made available to the public in partnership with the Government Printing Office through GPO Access <>. These tools are maintained by OSTI, a part of the DOE Office of Science. The Director of OSTI is Dr. Walter L. Warnick, (301) 903-7996.

The Resource Discovery Network Announces the Launch of the Virtual Training Suite (Press Release, 19 July 2000)

Contributed by:
Nicola Gibbons
Information Assistant
Resource Discovery Network
London, United Kingdom

Ride the e-Train and give up bad searching for good

The Resource Discovery Network (RDN) is pleased to announce the launch of the RDN Virtual Training Suite - a set of free, interactive, web-based tutorials for students, lecturers and researchers who want to discover what the Internet can offer in their subject area.

Although the Internet is becoming an invaluable tool for learning, teaching and research, finding relevant, high quality information is becoming increasingly frustrating and difficult. The RDN Virtual Training Suite offers anyone with Internet access an hour of self taught -- any time, any place -- training in Internet information skills, suitable for Internet novices or improvers -- in fact anyone who wants to find high quality information on the WWW fast and efficiently. Each tutorial has been written by an academic or librarian with specialist knowledge of both their subject area and the Internet.

Key features include the opportunity for users to:

TOUR - key sites in their subject area
DISCOVER - techniques for improving Internet search skills
REVIEW - skills needed to evaluate internet information
REFLECT - on practical ideas for using the Internet to support study, teaching or research

Quizzes and exercises help to lighten the learning load, and a virtual "shopping basket" is available in which users can collect links to interesting sites and return to them later.

Who should know about the Virtual Training Suite and why?

Students - who can use the tutorials to familiarise themselves with the key sites in their subject area and gain tips on how to use the Internet to support their study and research.

Lecturers and teachers - who can discover ideas for making effective use of the Internet within their teaching and support their students by encouraging them to work through the tutorials.

Internet trainers, librarians or academic support staff - who can integrate the suite within institutional training programmes to complement local induction/education/refresher activities. Posters and leaflets are available to help you promote the service.

Eleven tutorials are currently available and a further twenty-seven are under development.

Tutorials Available July 2000:

  • Internet Aviator
  • Internet Business Manager
  • Internet Economist
  • Internet for English
  • Internet for Historians
  • Internet for Lawyers
  • Internet Medic
  • Internet Politician
  • Internet Psychologist
  • Internet Social Worker
  • Internet Sociologist

Available May 2001:

  • General Internet Information Skills
  • Internet for Agriculture, Food and Forestry
  • Internet Anthropologist
  • Internet Bio-researcher
  • Internet Chemist
  • Internet Earth Scientist
  • Internet Educator
  • Internet Electrical Engineer
  • Internet Electronic and Communications Engineer
  • Internet Environmentalist
  • Internet for European Literature and Language
  • Internet Geographer
  • Internet for Government
  • Internet for Health and Safety Engineering
  • Internet for Materials Engineering
  • Internet Mathematician
  • Internet Mechanical Engineer
  • Internet and the Natural World
  • Internet for Petroleum and Offshore Engineering
  • Internet Philosopher
  • Internet Physicist
  • Internet for Social Policy
  • Internet for Social Research Methods
  • Internet Social Statistician
  • Internet Theologian
  • Internet Vet
  • Internet for Women’s Studies

Let the Experts Guide You to the Best of the Web

The RDN Virtual Training Suite is just one of the ways the RDN is helping everyone involved in learning, teaching and research to make the most of the Internet. It is a UK national initiative, funded by JISC (the Joint Information Systems Committee) - <> and created by the Institute for Learning and Research Technology, University of Bristol - <>.

Further information

Visit the RDN Virtual Training Suite home page at <>.

For further information contact Emma Place (VTS Project Manager) tel: +44 (0)117 928 7183 or Justine Kitchen (RDN Information and Training Manager) tel: +44 (0)207 848 2935 - both contactable via email: <>.

Taylor and Francis Launches E-Book Initiative (Press Release, July 13, 2000)

Contributed by:
Aine Duffy
Publicity Manager
Routledge/Taylor & Francis Books Ltd.

Online Venture Breaks New Ground in delivery of over 15,000 eBooks in all popular digital formats and channels

Taylor & Francis announced today that it has reached an agreement with Versaware that will enable it to have its complete book list available for sale in a variety of eBook formats.

The eBook is set to make a significant impact over the next few years. A few months ago a relatively small number of titles in total had been made available and then only in a limited range of formats. All this is about to change.

Leading academic publisher Taylor & Francis, whose imprints include Routledge, Psychology Press, Garland, Spon Press and RoutledgeFalmer, revealed that its agreement with Versaware, a leading internet and digital publishing services company, will enable them to publish conventional print books in tandem with any of the digital e-book formats. In addition to the new titles the company intends to have 3,000 back-list titles available before the end of the year with the remaining 14,000 available during the course of 2001. In addition to all popular eBook formats Taylor & Francis will simultaneously launch a Print on Demand service.

Asked why the Group was taking this step now, Roger Horton, Managing Director of Taylor & Francis Books Limited said:

"The eBook is here, and the widespread use of the Internet makes it much more accessible. We cannot continue to dip our toes into the digital stream with a few books placed with a variety of partners. We had to take control of our content, its availability and distribution to position ourselves for the future."

But what will the future hold?

"Ultimately the market will decide how great a role e-books have to play, and which formats will be successful. Our role is to be well prepared in order to meet that demand in whatever form it takes."

Trading arrangements are already being negotiated with major UK retailers with Blackwells, Swotbooks and Dawson Books already signed up. Agreements with US and European retailers are likely to follow in the next month.

The initial range of e-books will be straightforward digital duplicates, with added search flexibility, of the original printed works. They will be downloadable via the internet to PC’s or to hand held devices like Rocket E-books, Microsoft Readers, or Palm Pilots.

Taylor & Francis will make all these available to all Internet e-retailers with the forthcoming "Digital Warehouse" powered by Versaware. The Digital Warehouse will provide for the real time sales and fulfilment of all the Taylor & Francis titles in multiple formats, allowing the e-retailer to facilitate the sale, while the electronic fulfilment happens directly from the Taylor & Francis Digital Warehouse.

Christoph Chesher the Sales Director of Taylor & Francis commented:

"Typically we expect an e-book price to be up to 20% less than its printed counterpart. It is too early to predict demand but I am encouraged by the increasing interest for academic material, particularly reference material, in electronic format. Traditional books are here to stay but as content providers we have to make our information as accessible as possible and I am confident that in the digital world our collaboration with Versaware will enable us to achieve this."

E-books offer enormous potential in the future to add value and functionality to content through extra pedagogical features, interactivity and animation. The availability of all this in one digital warehouse will enable retailers to source and supply with relative ease along the lines of existing channels of distribution.

Versaware’s CEO Harry Fox hailed the initiative as:

"A bold move, one which will define the future of academic publishing. With Versaware’s technology 17,000 titles will be digitised and available, twenty four hours a day, to academics, researchers, and the general reader wherever he or she may be, around the clock 24x7. This is going to open up entirely new channels for selling and disseminating information in a global market." Mr Fox added, "We are delighted that Taylor & Francis chose Versaware as their technology partner to digitize and deliver their titles in this exciting initiative."

For further information contact: Aine Duffy at the Taylor & Francis Press office on 020 7842 2117.

Copyright (c) 2000 Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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DOI: 10.1045/september2000-inbrief