The Digital Desktop Library
Project Number 19 – 1993
Senior Research Scientist
OCLC Office of Research
6565 Frantz Road
Dublin, OH 43017
Other Individuals And Organizations Associated With The Project
Director of Computing Resources
Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
The proliferation of distributed networking resources presents challenges and opportunities to both the educational and library communities. Educators are faced with unprecedented availability of information resources, but with minimal organization to support access. The skills and service traditions of librarianship are critical for making widely distributed and largely uncontrolled information more accessible.
This project advances a model for a digital electronic library that will serve as an experimental platform to explore technical and operational issues of online libraries in an instructional environment.
The three fundamental components of this digital library project include (1) a graphical metaphor for navigating in `information space’, (2) a document retrieval and display capability that relieve’s the user from the task of managing a large variety of display formats, and (3) a facility to support real-time interaction with online librarians and peers.
This third component distinguishes the project from a collection of information tools and resources; the sense of place and real-time interaction afforded by a virtual-reality environment will greatly enhance the utility of distributed resources, and should prove a valuable tool for instruction.
The system is currently in the planning and design stage. It will be implemented and field tested at the Illinois Math and Science Academy, a public residential high school for gifted students, over the ensuing 12 months. The goal of this initial phase will be the demonstration of the instructional benefits of providing to students and faculty many of the conventional services of the library as well as supporting the new capabilities of the digital online environment.
a.) The project is intended to model an online library that provides a coherent view of network resources. The multi-user domain software that will provide the basis for the online interaction and sense of place, is a well developed idiom for informal teleconferencing now widely used for networked gaming. Increasingly these systems are being applied to collaborative work-group computing, however (cf. Pavel Curtis’ work at Xerox PARC, the MediaMOO environment at MIT Media Lab, and the Post-Modern Culture MOO recently implemented for conferencing among PMC subscribers).
b.) The goal of the project is to demonstrate a new model of network librarianship to improve access to networked information resources. The central issue is improving communication and connectivity among people… both the users of the system, who will be able to interact directly in this online environment, and librarians as well, who will provide formal assistance to their patrons.
c.) The project is a collaboration between OCLC, a non-profit organization serving libraries and patrons with technical services and reference services, and the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, the country’s only public residential high school for gifted students.
d.) By enhancing access to networked information resources and promoting connectivity among patrons and service providers (educators and librarian), opportunities for serendipitous interaction and exchange of ideas will develop without the need for physical co-location. Other net-dwellers will be invited to participate in online teleconferencing sessions, affording low-cost guest speakers that could not be accomplished otherwise without high costs.
e.) The proposed system is intended to be a model for supporting instruction and access to network information sources that can be used in any discipline and any instructional level. It is well suited to distance education (by virtue of the client server architecture) as well as serving as a local electronic classroom and library. The basic framework of the system should be easily adaptable to most networking environments and disciplines.
It is expected that a rudimentary prototype of the system will be in place by the date of the conference. This could be demonstrated if a tcp-ip network connection is available.