Policy Futures in Education
ISSN 1478-2103

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Volume 6 Number 1 2008


CONTENTS [click on author's name for abstract and full text]



Isaac Hunter Dunlap & Ruth Rikowski
. Introduction. A Library Revolution of Digital Proportions, pages 1‑4
Ruth Rikowski. Digital Libraries and Digitisation: an overview and critique, pages 5‑21
M. Paul Pandian. Digital Knowledge Resources, pages 22‑38
Heather Joseph. SPARC: creating innovative models and environments for scholarly research and communication, pages 39‑42
Tom Peters. Meeting and Serving Users in Their New Work (and Play) Spaces, pages 43‑48
Lori Bell, Mary-Carol Lindbloom, Tom Peters & Kitty Pope. Virtual Libraries and Education in Virtual Worlds: twenty-first century library services, pages 49‑58
Jia Liu. Digital Library and Digital Reference Service: integration and mutual complementarity, pages 59‑76
Mengxiong Liu & Peggy Cabrera. The New Generation of Citation Indexing in the Age of Digital Libraries, pages 77‑86
Susan Copeland. Electronic Theses and Dissertations: promoting ‘hidden’ research, pages 87‑96
Paul Catherall. Learning Systems in Post-Statutory Education, pages 97‑108
Tatiana Nikolova-Houston & Ron Houston. Building the Virtual Scriptorium, pages 109‑121
Yehuda E. Kalay. Impacts of New Media on Scholarly Publishing, pages 122‑131
Isaac Hunter Dunlap. Going Digital: the transformation of scholarly communication and academic libraries, pages 132‑141

BOOK REVIEWS VIEW FULL TEXT doi:10.2304/pfie.2008.6.1.142
Building Knowledge Cultures: education and developments in the age of knowledge capitalism (Michael A. Peters, with A.C. (Tina) Besley), reviewed by Ruth Rikowski, pages 142‑145
Constraining Public Libraries: the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (Samuel E. Trosow & Kirsti Nilsen), reviewed by Ruth Rikowski, pages 146‑147
Libr@ries: changing information space and practice (Cushla Kapitzke & Bertam C. Bruce, Eds), reviewed by Ruth Rikowski, pages 147‑150
Open Source Database Driven Web Development: a guide for information professionals (Isaac Hunter Dunlap), reviewed by Ruth Rikowski, pages 150‑151

Introduction: a library revolution of digital proportions



No one makes a revolution by himself; and there are some revolutions ... which humanity accomplishes without quite knowing how, because it is everybody who takes them in hand. (George Sand [French novelist], The Haunted Pool, 1851)

The often heard declaration that a revolution is taking place in any certain field has become a tired and much abused practice. Indeed, much of what passes for being truly momentous or indicative of sweeping change is often little more than an unconventional or unfamiliar approach that has been successfully transmigrated from one arena to the next (per Ecclesiastes, ‘there is nothing new under the sun’). While the observed effect may seem sensational and striking at first glance, deeper reflection often reveals the change to be transient, one-dimensional or lacking in transformative vitality.

Actual revolutions, of course, are altogether different. Characterized by profound upheavals in the status quo and accompanied by major shifts in the balance of power, revolutions are known for creating agitation, instability and insecurity, though on occasion they have also been recognized for generating opportunity and adaptation while serving as a catalyst for invention and the redefinition of all that came before.

Even with these distinctions kept well in mind, it is difficult to overstate the revolutionary significance of contemporary digital libraries for scholarly research and communication, and the long-term goals and mission of the educational enterprise. In a stunningly short period of time (not much more than a decade), digital libraries have become simultaneously ubiquitous, deeply enmeshed, and indispensable knowledge and information resources. Digital libraries have already obtained the breadth and depth in the current era to profoundly impact the management and preservation of human knowledge for future generations.

Concurrently, digital libraries themselves are being rapidly transformed in this complex and continually evolving information environment characterized by emerging technologies and shifting standards. The effects are far-reaching, as digitization efforts are influencing the pedagogical and research activities of the academy, generating vast e-learning opportunities, forcing libraries to re-evaluate their collection-building, reference and archival activities, and generating new theoretical paradigms concerning how human culture is likely to be transmitted and preserved in the coming century.

As the digital library revolution continues to unfold, a series of high-profile initiatives is capturing the attention of educators, researchers, librarians, policy makers and other stakeholders in the future of scholarly communication and the arena of knowledge and information management. The work of the Open Content Alliance, the Google Books Library Project, the European Union’s European Digital Library Project, the Library of Congress’s World Digital Library, the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD) project and the Association of Research Libraries’ Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) initiative are just a sample of major digital library ventures that are transforming traditional content outlets, scholarly research and distribution methods, academic and public library functions, and the global educational landscape.

Not surprisingly, traditional libraries are undergoing dramatic transformations as they attempt to cope, adapt and provide leadership in spheres where they have historically played critical knowledge and information roles. Indeed, one of the most fascinating trends over the last decade has been the extent to which formerly print-based academic libraries have almost totally redefined their functions, services and programs to meet the dynamic challenges that have rapidly emerged. As the forms and formats of intellectual content have evolved, libraries have developed new proficiencies in computer database networking and information management.

The changing job titles of professional librarians (e.g. virtual reference librarian, electronic resources librarian, digital services librarian, distance learning librarian) are an apt reflection of the times. Librarians engaged in public service have energetically created new functions and modalities to assist users with all levels of computing skill and types of information need to effectively access not only the digital library, but the ‘hybrid library’ – a conceptual repository consisting of both traditional and digitized content which is likely to remain a constant in certain disciplines and fields of knowledge for the foreseeable future.

This special issue explores many of these rapid-moving developments related to digital libraries, contemplating the long-term benefits and challenges associated with the revolutionary process of transforming information gathering, organization, access, retrieval, dissemination and preservation. Many forces are coalescing to shape this exciting digital realm, including publishers, information technology companies, governmental bodies, Open Source software communities, universities, libraries and research institutes. Though their agendas sometimes clash and reasons for collaboration may differ, both commercial and not-for-profit international entities are actively leveraging cutting-edge technologies to redefine how the world’s most prized and valuable intellectual and creative content is managed and distributed.

The articles that follow explore the multifaceted nature of digital libraries from different vantage points. Ruth Rikowski’s article explores the contours of digital libraries, showing how their benefits have led to the rapid development and deployment of new technologies in search of better ways to address age-old information problems. Not surprisingly, the introduction of powerful digital methods to gather, organize and disseminate information has brought with it a variety of direct and sometimes unforeseen costs. As the social, economic and political implications of the Information Age and the digital library movement continue to be felt and assessed, it is clear that the scholarly communication process within the academy is experiencing an upheaval that is revolutionary, transformative and likely to be permanent in its impact. The author raises a number of significant long-term questions of interest to anyone grappling with the challenges, issues and opportunities related to the future of digital libraries.

Paul Pandian leads us in a lively discussion of the developmental progression of digital libraries over the last quarter-century with ‘Digital Knowledge Resources’. More than just a historical digital tour, his positioning of this unprecedented library information revolution illustrates the lightning speed of this ongoing transformation and provides valuable context for envisioning the broader outlines and vital themes that will unfold in the coming decade. Pandian focuses attention on the role of emerging technologies and how the advances in information management have forever altered how librarians and researchers go about organizing, accessing and preserving information. Specifically in the scientific fields, for many years digital libraries and their related electronic indexing and communication mediums have provided a principal means for scholarly communication, research, access and preservation.

However, Pandian also notes the continuing, complementary roles of the traditional library and the digital library. While powerful, diverse and convenient, in many respects the digital library can still not be fully understood outside of the traditional library paradigm. Despite large-scale efforts to digitize print holdings primarily in the public domain (e.g. Google Books Library Project), the vast majority of published knowledge will be transfixed in print format within traditional library repositories for the foreseeable future. Pandian relates how such paradoxes continue to play a role in the continuing development of digital libraries.

Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC, provides an insightful, inside look into the activities of an influential organization taking a leading role in shaping and redefining the future of scholarly communication. Founded by the Association of Research Libraries in response to soaring commercial journal costs, SPARC is using digital technology and a collaborative framework to create alternate publishing models, transform public policy and enhance the access and use of scholarly information.

Investigating digital library public services from the standpoint of the end user, Tom Peters considers how the advent of personal computing devices and expanding digital information environments is creating new sets of needs, experiences and expectations. While digital collections are sure to proliferate over the coming decades, Peters argues that the successful digital libraries of the future will be defined as much by their high levels of service and collaborative structures as by their content. Experimentation and creativity will be in high demand as libraries attempt to provide innovative services that reach people with diverse modes and styles of communication.

‘Virtual Libraries and Education in Virtual Worlds: twenty-first century library services’, by Lori Bell, Mary-Carol Lindbloom Tom Peters & Kitty Pope, offers a forward-leaning investigation of digital library service in the electronic realm of the for-profit Second Life community. Existing solely in cyberspace, the Second Life virtual world allows individuals the ability to create an interactive reality replete with personal ‘avatars’, costuming and social interaction. The entire enterprise might be dismissed as a ‘late night’ diversion for web-addicted ‘netizens’ were it not for the sheer size and magnitude of what is being actively established in this alternate universe. Entire e-cultures are being collectively developed as participants leverage the Second Life world’s own monetary exchange rate and take classes for university credit, while companies such as IBM have invested sizable financial and human resources into developing the forum for online meetings and business enterprise. Libraries, too, have aggressively entered this virtual world as both regional library systems and universities have begun building ‘information islands’ with fully staffed academic library reference desks providing real-time scholarly assistance. The authors of this article are leading pioneers in the Second Life digital library movement. Their experience and expertise in this endeavor provide a unique vantage point for understanding how digital libraries are exploring new frontiers related to human–computer interaction and information access.

Focusing more intensively on the interplay between digital libraries and digital reference services closer to terra firma, Jia Liu explores how these significant electronic library initiatives have tended, perhaps unexpectedly, to develop independently from one another. While the impetus for digital libraries grew out of newfound content storage and networking capabilities, digital reference services have developed not necessarily to provide improved access to these growing digital collections, but to concurrently leverage emerging technologies to improve general access to library collections as a whole. Liu offers a wide-ranging overview of major digital library and digital reference service initiatives, highlighting specific techniques and applications that have been introduced on a global basis. Despite sometimes being formulated in response to varying information problems and institutional priorities, the author describes how both digital libraries and digital reference services have come together to successfully overcome barriers, improve information access, and more effectively serve end users.

Moving from digital library collections and services to electronic information access tools, Mengxiong Liu & Peggy Cabrera explore the current state of digital citation indexing initiatives, focusing in particular on scientific publishing. Through intensive data mining, citation linking and associative reference techniques, leading products are now capable of identifying and retrieving relevant digital information resources that were unimaginable just a few years ago. This case study explores the strengths and weaknesses of the latest research-oriented indexing databases available to libraries and how they might best be utilized. The authors also explore the viability of a potential ‘universal’ citation database, which could make it possible to conduct a comprehensive literature review search with a single platform.

Susan Copeland provides an in-depth look at the rapidly developing international digital collections of ETDs, or ‘Electronic Theses and Dissertations’. The content, format, policies and institutional acceptance of the ETD movement are examined along with significant cooperative efforts to facilitate scholarly communication and resource sharing, including the development of the influential Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD). Copeland notes that despite an array of competing national standards and rationales related to metadata creation, continuing international discussions are helping to build consensus for content descriptors that will facilitate federated searching of scholarly content around the world.

The focus on higher education continues, with an article by Paul Catherall on ‘Learning Systems in Post-Statutory Education’. Catherall examines the broad scope of systemised learning (e-learning) in post-statutory education. This includes a consideration of the origins and forms of learning systems; technical, educational concepts and approaches, such as distributed and collaborative learning and trends in e-learning including future technologies such as m-learning (mobile learning).

One of the more interesting debates in the era of digital libraries is whether (and how best) to digitize and preserve rare and priceless archival resources. Digital library proponents note the imperative for libraries to continue their traditional role in collecting and preserving historic treasures, but in a way that makes them more accessible and usable than ever before. Meanwhile, critics tend to note the high cost of digitizing primary sources and express long-term concern with how evolving technologies and competing standards may one day render the digital objects useless. In their article, ‘Building the Virtual Scriptorium’, Tatiana Nikolova-Houston & Ron Houston address some of the major challenges and obstacles related to manuscript digitization, arguing that the only responsible long-term path towards the preservation of deteriorating resources is by adopting an aggressive digitization program that keeps a watchful eye on emerging technologies, evolving industry standards and the high costs associated with doing nothing.

While some digital libraries have focused their efforts on preserving historical remnants, the Center for New Media (CNM) at the University of California at Berkeley is actively studying the implications of cutting-edge information technologies on scholarly research and communication. CNM Director Yehuda E. Kalay explores how the World Wide Web, blogs, wikis, the Open Source movement and other ‘new medias’ brought about by the information revolution have profoundly altered academic scholarship on multiple levels, with a focus on scientific publishing, in particular. As the ‘modern-day ‘horseless carriage’ of scholarly publishing’, New Media technology is fundamentally changing not only the modes, but the very nature of research for the individual scholar, for peer research groups and for the entire scholarly enterprise of the academy. Kalay’s insights are invaluable for appreciating how knowledge is being actively shaped, organized and delivered by forms and devices that are themselves dynamically evolving and becoming transformed.

Finally, Hunter Dunlap explores how academic libraries are undergoing a rapid transformation in the face of a digital revolution that has fundamentally altered scholarly research and communication. Once the primary storehouses and gateways to human knowledge via Gutenberg’s printing press, university libraries are helping shape the new digital information environment by embracing emerging technologies and adopting new methods for performing the ‘universal’ requirements of information gathering, management, access and preservation. The author focuses on familiar structures and functions found within university libraries and discusses how their transformation is positioning academic libraries in the current environment.

Taken as a whole, this collection of articles represents a snapshot of the digital library revolution that is currently under way. These forward-looking compositions also highlight the salient trends, issues, opportunities and challenges that will impact on academic institutions and the many individuals who are committed to the ideals of education, research and the preservation of human knowledge over the long term. The coming years promise a continuation of the ongoing revolution as digital libraries evolve and assert increasingly greater influence. Though the rapid development of digital libraries may feel destabilizing for some and a threat to the comfortable knowledge structures of old, we also find ourselves as participants in a dynamic revolution with exciting possibilities and real consequences. This is a revolution worth taking in hand.

Isaac Hunter Dunlap & Ruth Rikowski


Digital Libraries and Digitisation: an overview and critique



This article provides an overview of some of the main areas surrounding the broad topic of ‘Digital Libraries’. This includes the advantages and costs of digitisation; the traditional and digital library; the library community and digitisation; and an examination of various digital library projects. It is not exhaustive, but hopefully, it provides some general information and guidelines for the reader. The article concludes with a critique within a social and political angle, including a consideration of the gender issue.


Digital Knowledge Resources



Technology has revolutionized the concept of libraries. Networking and computing technologies have now become sufficiently advanced to support the design and deployment of large digital libraries which are capable of supporting the conventional end-user functions. Digital libraries are a natural extension of the evolution in which libraries have been involved for centuries. They represent a fundamental leap forward in the provision of services for, and partnership with, information communities. Because of the ‘digital’ nature, information resources can be shared over the powerful network. With the innovative use of information technology and the integration of many tools and techniques developed thus far and in the foreseeable future, information provision can be more complete, faster, and broad-based. Digital Libraries can be accessed anywhere, any time, by anyone who needs them. Thus, the potential should be great. This article provides an overview of digital and other electronic information resources, their characteristics, growth and developments, and their impact on information access and use. It also deals with issues relevant to building digital library collections and systems.


SPARC: creating innovative models and environments for scholarly research and communication



The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), a strategic initiative founded by the Association of Research Libraries, is a catalyst for promoting a scholarly communication environment that is more open, financially tenable, and supportive of the current research and information needs of academe. Established in response to imbalances in the scholarly publishing system and the skyrocketing costs of commercial peer-reviewed journals, SPARC is successfully leveraging digital technology and collaboratively finding ways to facilitate the access, sharing and use of scholarly information. This article explores three of SPARC’s major programmatic areas (education, incubation, advocacy), and examines how the organization is playing an active role in developing alternate scholarly communication models while constructively influencing public policy in the service of libraries and university communities.


Meeting and Serving Users in Their New Work (and Play) Spaces



This article examines the public services component of digital and virtual libraries, focusing on the end-user experience. As the number and types of ‘places’ where library users access library collections and services continue to expand (now including cell phones, iPods, and three-dimensional virtual reality environments populated by avatars), librarians and educators need to examine the key components of these experiential environments, then establish and deploy service programs and underlying policies and procedures that exploit the affordances offered by these new usage environments. Several of the characteristics of these new service environments (e.g. the competition – or conflation – between learning and entertainment, the competition between various libraries and information services in the same space, the read–write participatory nature of many of these environments, and the arrival in a big way of multimedia – both concurrent and serial) are explored.


Virtual Libraries and Education in Virtual Worlds: twenty-first century library services

LORI BELL Alliance Library System, East Peoria, Illinois, USA
MARY-CAROL LINDBLOOM Alliance Library System, East Peoria, Illinois, USA
TOM PETERS TAP Information Services, Missouri, USA
KITTY POPE Alliance Library System, East Peoria, Illinois, USA



As the use of the Internet and time spent on the Internet by individuals grows, and the use of virtual worlds like Active Worlds and Second Life increases, the library needs to have an interactive place and role in these worlds as well as a bricks and mortar space. This article provides an overview of what some libraries are doing in these worlds, especially on a collaborative library project in Second Life that was set up by two of the authors, Bell and Pope. The authors discuss and share successes and challenges with the project, how libraries are very relevant in these worlds, and how they can create partnerships with educators.


Digital Library and Digital Reference Service: integration and mutual complementarity



Both the digital library and the digital reference service were invented and have been developed under the networked environment. Among their intersections, the fundamental thing is their symbiotic interest – serving the user in a more efficient way. The article starts by discussing the digital library and its service and the digital reference service and its collection. Then, based on a series of case studies, the article explores the necessity of their three-dimensional integration, i.e. the completely parallel integration, the digital reference service affiliated with a digital library and a digital library integrated into the reference service. It is proposed that the two communities could achieve improvement simultaneously through mutual complementarity.


The New Generation of Citation Indexing in the Age of Digital Libraries



As the Web is becoming a powerful new medium in scientific publication and scholarly communication, citation indexing has found a new application in the digital environment. The authors reviewed the new developments in Web-based citation indexing and conducted a case study in three major citation search tools, Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar. Based on the evaluations and comparisons of citing reference searches, the authors concluded that there is no single solution for a complete citing reference search without a Universal Citation Digital Library.


Electronic Theses and Dissertations: promoting ‘hidden’ research



Since the mid 1990s an increasing number of higher education institutions and organisations have been encouraging the production and submission of theses and dissertations in electronic format. Where access to electronic theses and dissertations is available via the Internet, usage figures indicate that this is a much consulted resource. However, until recently, only a small percentage of the theses produced internationally have been mounted on web pages. The situation is now changing as efforts to promote ‘open access’ are leading many universities to develop institutional repositories which contain the full text of theses and dissertations alongside journal articles, book chapters, conference proceedings, reports and associated research data sets, etc. Attention is now being directed towards the identification and dissemination of examples of good practice, and attempts are being made to coordinate activities across institutions both nationally and internationally (to reduce unnecessary duplication of effort and encourage developmental work in areas where this will be beneficial). This article highlights key issues associated with the creation, management and use of electronic theses and dissertations and provides information about organisations that are actively working to promote this useful source of research data. Information is provided on topics such as training, technical and administrative requirements, and the issues to address, whether adopting a local, institutional, approach or participating in a national level service.


Learning Systems in Post-statutory Education



This article examines the broad scope of systemised learning (e-learning) in post-statutory education. Issues for discussion include the origins and forms of learning systems, including technical and educational concepts and approaches, such as distributed and collaborative learning. The VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) is defined as the prevalent form of e-learning, including the use of related systems within the MLE (Managed Learning Environment) such as CMS (Content Management Systems) and learning repositories. Challenges in the delivery of systems and software to facilitate learning in a digital context are described, including system selection issues, system configuration, project deployment, system management and integration with other library systems; consideration is also given to user support and training. Accessibility requirements within VLEs are briefly described, including a definition of web standards required for accessibility compliance. Trends in e-learning are also explored, including future technologies such as m-learning (mobile learning). The article concludes with a discussion on the emergence of the global market in education and critical perspectives on learning systems.


Building the Virtual Scriptorium



Manuscripts, archives, and early printed books contain a documentary record of the foundations of human knowledge. Many elements restrict access to this corpus, from preservation concerns to censorship. On the assumption that the widespread availability of knowledge benefits the human condition more than the restriction of knowledge, elements restrictive to the dissemination of manuscripts, archives, and early printed books should be overcome, and the intellectual content of such items should be available to as wide an audience as possible through the digital library equivalent of the medieval scriptorium, termed here the ‘virtual scriptorium’.


Impacts of New Media on Scholarly Publishing



This article summarizes a few key results of a workshop, held in the University of California Berkeley in June 2006, organized by the Center for New Media and supported by Elsevier, the leading publisher of scholarly journals. The workshop focused on the following questions: How will scientific publishing be affected by New Media? How will the new means of production, dissemination, and consumption of information impact scientific publishing? How will they affect the social, cultural, legal, and economic modalities of its practice? How will they affect the practitioners and the institutions that rely on it? How will they affect society at large? The article discusses the results of the workshop in terms of how New Media affect personal information behavior, research group behavior, and issues affecting scholarly communication generally.


Going Digital: the transformation of scholarly communication and academic libraries



Not since the age of Gutenberg has an information upheaval so thoroughly disrupted the processes of scholarly knowledge creation, management and preservation as the digital revolution currently under way. Academic libraries have traditionally been structured to effectively facilitate the access, use and storage of mostly static, print-based research collections. In the midst of sweeping change university libraries are attempting to re-imagine services, embrace emerging technologies, reallocate resources and provide proactive leadership in a new digital knowledge society. This article provides both historical perspective and a forward-looking examination into how academic libraries are transforming themselves to both cope with, and help shape, unprecedented transitions in scholarly research and communication.


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