Insight into the Digital Library Reference Model

18. September 2008 um 18:31 2 Kommentare

On the first post-ECDL-conference day I participated in the Third Workshop on Foundation of Digital Libraries (DLFoundations 2008) that was organized by the DELOS Network of Excellence on Digital Libraries. One major work of DELOS is the DELOS Digital Library Reference Model (DLRM). The DLRM is an abstract model to describe digital libraries; it can be compared to the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model (CIDOC-CRM) and the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) – and it shares some of their problems: a lack of availability and (resulting) a lack of implementations.

The DLRM is „defined“ in a 213-page PDF-file – this is just not usable! Have a look at W3C or IETF how nowadays standards are defined. As DLRM is a conceptual model, you must also provide a RDF representation or it is just inavailable for serious applications on the web. And of course the silly copyright statement should be removed in favor of a CC-license. That’s the formal part. Summarizing the content of DLRM there are 218 concepts and 52 relations – which is far too much to start with. But: there are some really useful ideas behind DLRM.

The reference model includes a division of „digital library“ into three levels of conceptualization (see image): first the visible digital library (the collection that users work with), second the digital library system (the software application that is installed and configured to run a digital library), and third the digital library management system (the software system that supports the production and administration of digital libraries). This division can be helpful to understand and talk about digital libraries – although I am not sure whether the division between digital library systems and digital library management systems is a such a good one.

Beside general talks about the Digital Library Reference Model the workshop provided some experience from practise by Wolfram Hostmann (DRIVER project) and by Georg Eckes (Deutsches Filminstitut) – never underestimate good real world examples! The most refreshing talk was given by Joan Lippincott (Coalition of Networked Information). She pointed out that much more then traditional repositories can be viewed as digital libraries. Especially user-generated content can constitute a digital library. A useful model for digital libraries should also fit for collections at Flickr, YouTube, Wikis, Weblogs etc. and user can mash up resources to create new digital library services, for instance the species search engine iSpecies. She is sooo right! In addition Joan mentioned initiatives to broaden the use of authority files and identity management. Another direct hit! If digital libraries only focus on interoperability with other „official“ digital libraries they will not remain. Libraries are only one little player in the digital knowledge environment and their infrastructure is not defined only by them.

I enjoyed the workshop, I really like the digital library community and I am happy to be part of it. But some parts still seem to live in an ivory tower. If the digital library reference model does not quickly get adopted to real applications (both repositories like those build with DSpace, Fedora, EPrints etc. and open systems like YouTube, Wikipedia, Slideshare…), it is nothing but an interesting idea. The digital revolution is taking place anyway, so let’s better be part of it!

P.S: The slides will soon be available at the Workshop’s website.

Some ECDL highlights

17. September 2008 um 22:01 1 Kommentar

The main ECDL 2008 program ended today and I will try to quickly summarize some highlights that I catched from the poster session. I participated with a poster on Dynamic Catalogue Enrichment with SeeAlso Link Servers (self-archived at E-LIS, abstract also as DOI 10.1007/978-3-540-87599-4_62).

First I talked with Magnus Pfeffer und Kai Eckert (University Mannheim, see photo). Kai developed a tool called Semtinel to visualize thesauri and classifications, and their usage for indexing a particular collection. He also published a paper (Semtinel: Interactive Supervision of Automatic Indexing, see PDF) at the JCDL’08 and gave a presentation at the Bibliothestag 2008. Displaying a hierarchical knowledge organization system and its usage in a treemap seems to be a simple idea, but it looks like nobody has done it before. If Semtinel becomes OpenSource and reads SKOS, this will be a useful tool for every „ontology engineer“ (that’s what „thesaurus managers“ are called now, as Dagobert Soergel remarked in his tutorial).

Unfortunately I missed the demo Using Terminology Web Services for the Archaeological Domain about an SKOS terminology webservice developed at the university of Glamorgan. Reminds me at the German terminology registry I also liked the demo of DIGMAP, a set of services to enrich maps in libraries with geographical information and to mash them up with Google Maps. The best ECDL demo award was choosen democratically by all participants. It went to the Preservation Planning Tool Plato and to the search engine Summa.

I had some time to glimpse the nice „little“ city of Ã…rhus (2nd largest of Denmark with 300.000) and I liked it a lot. The ECDL 2009 will take place at Corfu which is a bit warmer (last year I visited it for the MTSR 2007) – see you next year at ECDL or another digital library related conference!

…und noch ein 2.0-Katalog

16. September 2008 um 16:26 Keine Kommentare

Auf der ECDL wurde heute im Vortrag „Enhancing Library Services with Web 2.0 functionalities“ mit OPACIAL ein weiterer „2.0“-Katalog vorgestellt. Der Proceedings-Artikel enthält eine Ãœbersicht von so genannten 2.0-Features (Tags, Drilldown, ein Index über alle Bestände, Empfehlungsdienste etc.) und anderen 2.0-Katalogprojekten (Penntags, SOPAC, BookSpace, VuFind, AFI-OPAC 2.0, Scriblio, Aquabrowser, Primo…). Die an der Panteion-Universität Athen entwickelte OPAC-Software ist als OpenSource verfügbar und die Entwicklung wird wie bei Beluga durch Nutzerstudien begleitet – wie es sich gehört. 🙂

So sehr ich Experimentieren und Eigenentwicklungen befürworte, sehe ich doch ein wenig die Gefahr, dass zu oft das Rad neu erfunden und aneinander vorbei entwickelt wird. Vor allem ist es notwendig für die verschiedenen Zusatzdienste eine gemeinsame Infrastruktur und Standards zu finden: statt mehrere große Baustellen, die alle den ultimativen Katalog entwickeln wollen, besser viele kleine Komponenten, die sich flexibel zusammenstellen lassen. Leider ist nicht alles Serviceorientierte Architektur wo SOA draufsteht und was sich als Standard durchsetzt, lässt sich erst im Nachhinein sagen (für den Suchmaschinenindex wird beispielsweise gerade Lucene zum De-Facto-Standard). Außerdem reicht es nicht, alles in den großen „2.0-Topf“ zu schmeißen und kräftig herumzurühren – man muss sich schon genauer damit auseinandersetzen, aus welchen verschiedenen Komponenten und Diensten ein Katalog bestehen kann und soll.

Momentan ist vermutlich die sinnvollste Strategie zur Entwicklung eines „Katalog 2.0“ für die eigene Bibliothek, sich an der Entwicklung von VuFind zu beteiligen – aber man sollte natürlich auch nicht nur auf ein Pferd setzen. In jedem Fall ist es spannend zu sehen, wohin sich der Katalog in Zukunft entwickeln wird.

So called „best“ ECDL paper ignores tagging

15. September 2008 um 13:39 4 Kommentare

The first normal talk at the ECDL2008 was about „Improving Placeholders in Digital Documents“ by George Buchanan and Jennifer Pearson. Placeholders (also known as bookmarks) in physical form are common and easy to use: you just put a peace of paper (or similar flat thing) inside a book, and optionally add notes on it. Bookmarks in the digital world are known but have low usability. A bookmark in a browser is just a plain link without additional information (color, notes, etc.), it only points to a webpage instead of specific parts of the content and it does not show up if you open the object that had been bookmarked. Moreover there is other content you may want to bookmark, for instance PDF files.

Buchanan and Pearson identified current uses of placeholders by user studies (interviews with a dozen of researchers) and created a demo interface for bookmarking PDFs. The talk was nice but I really wonder why it was selected as best paper. Especially the lack of referencing Social Tagging (Brewster Kahle brought it up in a question after the talk) would have been a clear reason for rejection if I was the reviewer! Social Tagging and Social Bookmarking has limitations – but it is much more than normal digital bookmarks and there are several tools to support tagging the files on your own hard disk. You should better try enhance tagging tools so tagging becomes more like annotating documents with placeholders instead of asking people to use artificial bookmarking tools. I hope the next talks will be better in scientific and practical relevance. Maybe the fact that Buchanan also got the best paper award last year (while beeing in the ECDL programm commitee) has influenced the decision? One more argument for open review.

Anyway: as long as there are no good interfaces to easily read and annotate documents, people will prefer paper notes for good reason. Give people a working e-paper-device with high resolution, long-lasting battery, touchscreen and the possibility to share documents without technical barriers like DRM and we can create a collaborative workspace for bookmarking and annotating documents; or as I already called it 2005 in the article „Mehr als Marginalien – das E-Book als gemeinsamer Zettelkasten“ in the German library science e-journal „LIBREAS“: a common file-card box.