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[Fwd: The US National Science Digital Library (NSDL)]

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Howard Flack        http://www.unige.ch/crystal/ahdf/Howard.Flack.html
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Date: Sat, 09 Feb 2002 14:47:37 +0000
From: Barry Mahon <mahons1@EIRCOM.NET>
Subject: The US National Science Digital Library (NSDL)
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This is extracted from The Scout Report, Feb 8th:

The items are valuable background reading for those coming to next
week's Seminar.

Three on the National Science Digital Library
A Spectrum of Interoperability: The Site for Science Prototype for the
NSDL
http://www.dlib.org/dlib/january02/arms/01arms.html
Components of an NSDL Architecture: Technical Scope and Functional Model
[.pdf]
http://www.arxiv.org/abs/cs.DL/0201027
Core Services in the Architecture of the National Digital Library for
Science Education (NSDL) [.pdf]
http://arxiv.org/abs/cs.DL/0201025

The National Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education
Digital Library (NSDL) is the [US] National Science Foundation's (NSF)
ongoing effort to build a comprehensive science digital library. These
three
articles collectively describe the philosophical and pragmatic approach
of the Core Integration team. The solutions address the issues of
economic
cost, extensibility, and interoperability for a project with ambitious
five-year targets (1 million users, 10 million digital objects, and ten
thousand to one hundred thousand collections). In the first article
(published in January 2002 D-Lib Magazine) the Cornell University team
lead by William Arms describes the preliminary work done to develop a
working
model for NSDL. The second resource authored by David Fulker and Greg
Janée (published in January 2002 arXiv Report) outlines the technical
architecture for NSDL and defines the "technical scope and a functional
model."  Published in the same issue of arXiv Report, the third resource
by Carl Lagoze et al. describes the interoperability structure for this
initial stage of NSDL's development. Issues of heterogenous metadata
management in a central repository, search and discovery services,
rights management, and user interface are all addressed.  These three
articles
are required reading for anyone interested in the future of digital
libraries and cooperative efforts to harness the educational power of
the Web.
Note:
For information on the Internet Scout Project's involvement in NSDL, see
http://scout.cs.wisc.edu/nsdl-reports/.

Here is an extract from the third item:

One of the intriguing aspects of digital library research is that grand
challenges exist at both the fundamental
technology level and at the large-scale integration level. Almost a
decade of government and private funding of
digital library research projects has produced important results at the
fundamental technology level in areas such
as web searching, non-textual information retrieval, and knowledge
representation. The successes at the level of
large-scale integration are arguably less evident. NSDL provides the
opportunity to produce results in this
area. While the technology presented in this paper may seem more prosaic
than that in some other DL research
projects, the integration challenges are indeed formidable. A number of
outstanding issues will influence the success
of the NSDL.
•
••••
Metadata quality: Unlike the traditional library environment, NSDL
metadata originates from sources
with varying expertise and following loosely defined and divergent
standards. Can intelligent search
algorithms ameliorate and normalize this diverse metadata?
Cost: Related to the previous issue is the actual cost of running a
production NSDL. Can automatic metadata
creation and normalization and web crawler-based gathering replace
substantial human effort?
Integrity and longevity of content: Libraries deservedly take pride in
their selection and preservation tradition.
How will the NSDL architecture ensure that associated content has
consistent access and reliable integrity and
appropriateness for the intended audiences?
Intellectual property protection: Content providers are understandably
nervous about the safety of their
intellectual property. Can the NSDL devise the necessary policies and
mechanisms that make it
possible for the widespread participation of cautious commercial
publishers?
Richer Functionality: The intent of the architecture described here is
to lay a scalable base for increased
functionality in the future. How will the “spectrum of interoperability”
work on a practical level, especially in
terms of maintaining a consistent and usable interface for the user?
There are many other substantive questions that the NSDL will face as it
grows. The opportunity to face these
questions on a large scale and match them with workable solutions makes
the NSDL among the most exciting
laboratories for the digital library community.

Barry Mahon

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