SMETE-Lib Workshop: NSF Brief

Workshop on Applications of Digital Libraries to SMET Education


A digital library can respond to needs articulated by the National Science Foundation, the academic community, and corporate leaders for accelerating and spreading much needed improvements in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education. Capitalizing on recent developments, digital libraries can provide the following.

  • A forum for the merit review and recognition of quality educational resources.
  • A mechanism for electronic dissemination of information about high-quality educational materials, pedagogical practices, and implementation strategies.
  • A centralized registry and archive for educational resources and a mechanism for their dissemination.
  • A resource for research in teaching and learning.
  • A workplace facilitating cooperative work with shared educational resources.

The purpose of this workshop is to identify and address issues related to content development and faculty use of digital libraries for SMET undergraduate and graduate education. It will bring together faculty who are potential users, authors who are potential contributors, and other stakeholders with a national library's potential architects to articulate functional capabilities and standards that will enable such a library to reach its goals. As noted in the National Research Council report: Developing a Digital National Library for Undergraduate Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education, input and advice from potential library users are critical to the design and development of the library and its content.


The workshop will include roughly 100 participants representing the following groups.

  • Content developers - leaders in exploiting the potential of technology, the Internet, the World Wide Web, and multimedia to improve the quality of SMET resources. This group will include representatives from all major SMET disciplines and developers exploiting a variety of technologies.
  • Users - this group overlaps the first group and will include classroom teachers at all levels and from a variety of educational institutions and workplaces.
  • Students
  • Digital library specialists - especially representatives from the six Digital Library Initiatives and the NLII.
  • Software and component developers.
  • Educational researchers.
  • Resource people representing a variety of interests and expertise including publishers, professional societies, businesspeople, and information specialists.
  • Experts on evaluation and assessment.


  1. Enlarging the community engaged in the improvement of SMET education and supporting users new to information technology.
  2. Collection definition including content scope, pedagogical considerations, and kinds of material.
  3. Quality control - the kinds of editorial oversight and reviewing necessary to help users identify quality materials and to insure that authors receive recognition for their work.
  4. Search and retrieval capabilities to enable users to find resources that are relevant to their needs and ways of assisting users integrating library resources in their classrooms.
  5. Identification of, and issues regarding, linkages to existing electronic resources - for example, libraries maintained by professional societies.
  6. Support for assessment and evaluation of courses, curricula, and student learning.
  7. Requirements to enable the sharing of data, tools, and other basic resources and insure that library resources work well together and can be maintained as the underlying technologies evolve.
  8. Kinds of support and resources needed for authors to stimulate the production of high quality resources.
  9. Use of reusable, general purpose educational components to address questions of maintenance of library resources in a rapidly changing technological environment, integration across disciplinary and institutional boundaries, cost, and accessibility. (A component is a resource - for example, a graphing package or a simulation - that is written to functional specifications and can be used as part of many different items in the library. Because components are written to functional specifications, they are interchangeable, allowing for competition among software producers and upgrades that do not require rewriting the items that use them.)
  10. Support for distributed, cooperative work with shared resources and tools.
  11. Support for, and dissemination of results from, research in teaching and learning, including research to inform continuous improvement of digital libraries.


The workshop will outline a report for general distribution addressing the issues raised above that will be written by a working subgroup and issued in Fall 1998. This report will contribute to a needs assessment or statement of requirements from a users' perspective, informed by digital library and other specialists.


Last revised: April 16, 1998