This is a special topics seminar focusing on the current state of “digital libraries” broadly defined. The seminar is multi-disciplinary in focus and in method, covering the history of the idea, its manifestation as projects and programs in academic, non-profit, and research settings, and the suite of policy issues that influence their development and growth. The concept of the digital library will serve as an intellectual construct within which to explore the related concepts of scholarly communication, digital preservation, cyberinfrastructure, representation, and information technology standards. Given the seminar format, students will be expected to master a diverse literature, to participate actively in the discussion of issues, and to take steps, collectively and individually, to advance our understanding of future directions of digital libraries.
- Understand the history and development of digital libraries as an international phenomenon
- Explore the literature, key players, and significant digital library programs
- Specify the critical skills required to build and maintain digital libraries
- Define a set of research questions associated with knowledge representation in digital libraries
- Establish a broad context issues and challenges facing digital libraries
Required readings average 150 to 250 pages per week, with optional reading determined by each student’s interests and knowledge, as well as the relevance of a given topic to course projects and final reports. All required readings are either on the World Wide Web (WWW), accessible through the CTools site for the course, or available through University Reserves’ Electronic Reserve Service. http://www.lib.umich.edu/reserves
Weekly lecture slides, additional resources for class assignments and weekly discussion topics will be posted on CTools by start of class. Students wishing to follow the lecture with the slides can download them from CTools. The CTools Portal URL is: http://ctools.umich.edu
Assignments and Deadlines
SI 615 - DIGITAL LIBRARIES, WINTER 2008
Class Participation (25%)
The overall success of the seminar depends on the active participation of all members of the class. Class participation is a sizable portion of the grade. Students should attend all classes and be prepared to enter into class discussions and to raise questions reflecting their reading and interests. Students are also expected to complete all required readings in advance of class. This is especially important since a portion of the class sessions will be discussions about the readings.
On the first class, each student will sign up with two other students to lead the discussion on the required readings for a given week. This is an opportunity to read one set of assigned readings more deeply than average, to work collaboratively on identifying themes or critical ideas, and to demonstrate understanding of one component of the course.
Literature Scan (15%)
The purpose of the individual project is to explore and find some interesting published literature on digital libraries and report on experiencing three important research resources.
Use the search and browse tools of three resource collections on a particular topic of your choosing.
Identify ten items of relevance to the topic (at least two from each source) from ACM Digital library. ACM Digital Library http://portal.acm.org/ [access via UM Library Search Tools]; D-Lib Magazine http://www.dlib.org/; and Ariadne Magazine http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/.
Prepare full and consistent bibliographic citations for all ten items (using MLA, Chicago, or other appropriate format).
Write between one- (1) and five- (5) sentence description/summary of each source.
Write up to 1,000 words that states the topic of your search, describes the scope of the resources available on digital libraries, assesses their strength and weaknesses for digital library research, and reports on your experience using the resources,.
Image Representation Database (25%)
The purpose of this project is to explore the various ways that photographic images are represented through digital library interfaces and to become adept at recognizing such variation. A secondary purpose of the project is to begin compiling a reference and research collection of digitized images that illustrates representation variation systematically. The mechanism we will use to complete the project is the collaborative construction of a database of image elements following a fairly complex scheme. The scheme captures descriptive information about each image, codes each image for its representation style, annotates the image in ways that connect the visual product with its associated metadata, and codes the image for the “significant properties” that it displays (or contains).
Each student will be responsible for identifying and coding data in the database for a minimum of 100 images. Half of the images will be chosen from collections in one of ten possible large scale digital libraries [a list will be distributed in class]. Half of the images may be chosen from any online collection of digitized photographs anywhere in the world, as long as certain criteria are met relating to the scale of the undertaking and the organizational source of the images. Prior to the start of the project, the instructor will provide definitions of key terms, illustrative examples of various representation styles, and detailed coding instructions for building the database. The results of the exercise will be presented in class.
Grading will be based on quantitative and qualitative assessments. Quantitative scores will be assigned based on the number of images completed and the completeness of the data compiled. A qualitative score will be assigned based on the level of judgment exercised in coding representation style and other subjective elements of the combined database.
Final Report (35%)
The final report for the seminar is an opportunity to take a close look at a particular aspect of a digital library program or service and to describe that aspect in the larger context of published and informally posted information on the digital library. The paper will be between 3,000 and 5,000 words in length, will be properly documented with references and a bibliography, and will conform to a common structure. The point of departure for the paper is a close examination of one feature of a digital library from a group of large and diverse digital libraries. A list will be distributed in class after the second week. Each student will choose one digital library to examine. All of the students who choose a particular digital library will constitute one or more teams varying in size from 3 to 6 individuals. You are encouraged to work together as a team on your analysis. The team is required to prepare a single document listing published and unpublished documentation on the digital library.
Students will negotiate within their respective teams over the choice of a particular topic to investigate in greater detail. Topics relevant to this investigation include the following areas:
Content domains, accession or selection criteria
Digitization guidelines or collection development focus
Metadata standards, processes, and products
End user interface design, usability assessment, revision history
End-user productivity tool development, including search tools, display tools, edit tools, etc.
Underlying repository infrastructure, including software architecture, database design, etc.
Collaboration with other institutions at the level of process, practice, standards, data sharing, etc.
Repository/archive development, including perspectives on digital preservation versus digital access
Staffing, cost analysis, benefit analysis, and other economic/budgetary issues.
The following issue is out of scope for this review: Copyright and intellectual property
Depending upon the size and individual interests of the group, the final report may parse the project in any number of ways. The final report must include at least the following five components:
Executive summary with critical findings (1 to 2 paragraphs)
Description of the origins, history, and purposes of the digital library (may be done collaboratively by the team for all reports from that team)
Report on the issue investigation, with the following components
Definition of the issue
Assessment of state of the art for the issue
How the issue is represented in the digital library
Reconciling state of the art with reality
Trends and directions for the issue either in the digital library or more broadly
Challenges you faced in your investigation (e.g., lack of documentation, outdated interface, etc.)
In pursuing your research, you may use any published or posted information available on the digital library and you may interview or correspond with appropriate staff who may have information to share. I encourage this strategy.
Deadlines and Due Dates
January 7 — First Class
January 21 — No Class Today
January 28, 5:00 pm — Literature Scan Due
February 4, 5:00 pm — Individual DL Review Topics Due
February 11 — Form Digital Library Review Teams
February 22, 5:00 pm — Digital Library Review Bibliography Due
February 28 — Spring Break
March 14, 5:00 pm — Working outline of final report Due, if advice desired from instructor
March 21, 5:00 pm — Image Representation Database Entries Complete
April 7 — Final Report Presentations (clustered by investigation topic)
April 14 — Final Report Presentations (clustered by investigation topic)
April 18, 5:00 pm — Final Reports Due
- Class participation: 25%
- Literature scan: 15%
- Image representation project: 25%
- Research report: 35%