Digital Library Workbench
"Relax, it's only zeroes and ones!"

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News

 Burger, T.N. (2007, January 22). Libraries facilitate open access to information with open source software

 Stencel, M. (2007, January). The Open-Minded Desktop: A Maryland library system shows that it's not just techies and geeks who can learn to love Linux.

 Gasperson, T. (2006, October 4). Library system migrates from Linux -- to more Linux.

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About This Project

Title Mission Collection Policy
Organization Resource Descriptions Access and Use
Services and Features Interface Design Enhancement, Evaluation, and Maintenance Plans

 

Title

The Digital Library Workbench (DLW) was developed to fulfill the final project requirement of ILS655, Digital Libraries, held online at Southern Connecticut State University in the Summer 2007 session, and taught by Dr. Yan Quan Liu.


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Mission Statement

The mission of the Digital Library Workbench is to offer to library science students, librarians, and anyone with limited financial resources, a collection of free or low-cost software tools and Web services that are useful for collecting, building, and distributing digital libraries.


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Collection Policy

All the tools and services collected here are available for free (as in “free beer”) or at relatively low cost. Many of them are also open source (free as in “free speech”) and therefore customizable for special applications. Each has been used by and recommended by one or more of my classmates. As additional tools and services are considered for inclusion, recommendations from other students will be weighed most heavily, and I will try out the tools myself whenever possible.


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Organization of Collection

The collection is constructed of individual HTML files representing each software tool or service. All the items in the collection reside in a single folder called 'library.'

The organization of this website is a simple hierarchy, as can be seen in this diagram, drawn using the open source drawing tool called Dia. Since each screen has the same top level navigation bar, in reality it is possible to get from one page to another without going back to the Home page.


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Resource Descriptions

Each resource description includes metadata about the Library, described using some of the elements in the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set, Version 1.1. Since this is not a library of books, photos, or other tangible items that could be described using bibliographic data, only some of the 15 Dublin Core elements are relevant. These are the Dublin Core metadata elements used in this Library.

  • Title
  • Description
  • Date
  • Format
  • Language
  • Creator

Each resource description also includes the following fields in both the metadata and the displayable item description. These fields are specified in the metadata schema known as DOAP (Description Of A Project). DOAP was originally developed to describe open source software projects on the Web, such that a "harvester" program could collect the data for publication in a catalog, or alternatively so that the project website could publish its data to an external catalog, similar to the way RSS feeds are published. Since this Library is a collection of some of those project descriptions, DOAP seemed to be the best fit in terms of a metadata schema for describing the items in the Library. These are the DOAP metadata elements used in this Library.

  • Name
  • Short Name (if different)
  • Description
  • Homepage
  • Wiki Page (or Support page)
  • Download Page
  • Operating Systems
  • Licensing

The Dublin Core and DOAP metadata elements can be seen by selecting View, Page Source from the browser's menu bar, or by right-clicking and selecting View Page Source from the pop-up menu. Here is a sample of the metadata from the audacity.htm page, beginning with links to the metadata schemas for Dublin Core and DOAP. The comments with "InstanceBeginEditable" and "InstanceEndEditable" are used only by DreamWeaver.


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Access and Use

Three different views of the collection are offered. There are two browse views. The first is alphabetical by the name of the software tool or service. The second browse view is by functionality, where each tool has been classified according to its utility to a digital library project. Some tools and services may be useful at more than one point in a digitzation project. There is also a search function which searches using the standard metadata elements 'keyword' and 'description,' and the page content.


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Services and Features

A digital library should simulate as much of the experience of the brick-and-mortar library as is reasonably possible. A physical library has a catalog–whether card or on-line–that allows the user to search by title, author, or subject. A physical library also has recommended reading lists, and several ways of notifying patrons about new acquisitions and services. Accordingly, the Digital Library Workbench includes these services and features:

  • Browse by function and name
  • Search by keyword
  • Links to sites on digital libraries, digitization, etc.
  • A Recommended Reading list of blogs, listservs, and on-line journals related to digitization and digital libraries
  • An RSS feed to notify patrons of new services and features
  • A suggestion box for feedback from users of the Library

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Interface Design

This website was created using DreamWeaver 8, and thus violates its own mission statement. There is an open source application for creating web pages in HTML called Nvu, and it is documented in the Library, but I do not yet have enough experience with it to use it exclusively. The academic/educational version of DreamWeaver 8 can be bought for under $200 as of this writing.

I'm using a typical three-column layout. The News items in the lefthand column are hard-coded for now. The search box is a free service from FreeFind.org. The books displayed in the righthand column are from my LibraryThing account. I tagged these particular books with the words "digital" and "libraries," and LibraryThing created for me a snippet of JavaScript to plug into my DreamWeaver template so that two different books are selected for display each time the user goes to a new page on the website.

The FreeFind search engine is used because it offers several customization features that I did not expect to find in a free tool. FreeFind allows the web designer to customize the appearance of both the search box widget and the search results page to a lesser or greater degree. FreeFind will accept the designer's template and will use it to make the results page appear to be an integral part of the website.

FreeFind allows the designer to choose which pages or groups of pages on the site are the most important for purposes of searching. I wanted the library items always to rank at the top of the search results over any other pages that might have the same search term, so I specified that the 'library' folder would have top priority in any search.

FreeFind also allows the designer to customize the relevance of various parts of a page. So, for example, I have specified that the meta description tag and meta keyword tag have maximum relevance, and the page content (title, text, and url) have relatively low relevance.

FreeFind automatically indexes any text documents on the site, so I did not attempt add any metadata to the hierarchy diagram or the example metadata PDF file.

The Suggestion Box is adapted from free PHP code available at free-php.net. When the Submit button is clicked, a small PHP script will construct an email and send it to me.


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Enhancement, Evaluation, and Maintenance Plans

A digital library should have all of the features of a traditional brick-and-mortar library whenever possible. But, being a virtual library, it should also have features and services that only a digital library can offer. Accordingly, the following enhancements are planned:

  • Add a section for user reviews and comments for each software tool.
  • Replace the individually coded HTML library items with an XML file that uses the DOAP metadata schema to describe each resource. Replace the FreeFind search tool with a custom search function implemented in a scripting language such as Perl. Allow users to specify any or all elements to be searched.
  • Add a discussion forum.
  • Replace the hard-coded News section in the left column with a live RSS feed from one or more digitzation, open source, and technology news sources.
  • Port the library from DreamWeaver to Nvu.

Periodic evaluations of the Library will make use of user feedback from the Suggestion Box.


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Blogs

Discussion Forums

Journals

Books

 

The Digital Library Workbench has been constructed by Sharon M. Foster as the Final Project for ILS 655, Digital Libraries, offered at Southern Connecticut State University, Summer 2007,
and taught by Dr. Yan Quan Liu.
Comments, updates, and suggestions for additions to sharon at vsa-software.com
Last updated 26 July 2007