- Series: The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Multimedia Information and Systems
- Paperback: 518 pages
- Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann; 1 edition (July 23, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1558607900
- ISBN-13: 978-1558607903
- Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,804,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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How to Build a Digital Library (The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Multimedia Information and Systems) 1st Edition
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From Library Journal
Although this somewhat technical work is aimed primarily at software developers who will be writing the programs to encompass digital information, the authors never lose sight of the importance of the role that librarians play in the selection and collection of information that will form digital libraries. [The authors, both computer science faculty members at the University of Waikato, New Zealand, are involved with the New Zealand Digital Library research project; Witten is the director.] Anyone who has ever done an Internet search will benefit from understanding some of the concepts underlying the structures of search engines. The section titled "Presentation: User Interfaces" is particularly enlightening in its descriptions of how various search engines can treat the same search differently. For example, this section contains easily understandable explanations of the importance of language stemming using morphological reduction and of case folding. For librarians wanting to try their hands at creating a digital library that can stand alone or be accessible via the Internet, the authors suggest the freely available Greenstone software (www.greenstone.org), for Windows or UNIX operating systems. Librarians, particularly those who envision building their own full-text digital libraries, will find useful information here.
Margaret Sylvia, St. Mary's Univ. Lib., San Antonio
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From the Back Cover
Given modern society's need to control its ever-increasing body of information, digital libraries will be among the most important and influential institutions of this century. With their versatility, accessibility, and economy, these focused collections of everything digital are fast becoming the "banks" in which the world's wealth of information is stored.
How to Build a Digital Library is the only book that offers all the knowledge and tools needed to construct and maintain a digital library-no matter how large or small. Two internationally recognized experts provide a fully developed, step-by-step method, as well as the software that makes it all possible. How to Build a Digital Library is the perfectly self-contained resource for individuals, agencies, and institutions wishing to put this powerful tool to work in their burgeoning information treasuries.
- Sketches the history of libraries-both traditional and digital-and their impact on present practices and future directions
- Offers in-depth coverage of today's practical standards used to represent and store information digitally
- Uses Greenstone, freely accessible open-source software-available with interfaces in the world's major languages (including Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic)
- Written for both technical and non-technical audiences
- Web-enhanced with software documentation, color illustrations, full-text index, source code, and more
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
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However, the second half of the book is burdened by heavy reliance on the Greenstone software package: a gnarly hack of Perl, C++ and Java code which should be relegated to the software dustbin. It's a shame when quality guidance is burdened by bad software.
I definitely sensed that I was reading a book by professional librarians ... this is not just a book about how to throw some text onto the Internet or onto a CDROM. Rather it covers the whole area of how to organize large quantities of information of all types in ways that make it most accessible to users.
The most useful part of the book for me is the guide to the structure and use of the Greenstone open-source digital library software, which has great potential for organizing and distributing (via Internet or CDROM) libraries of all sorts. The software site... includes some documentation but this book is far more detailed, for those wanting to go beyond the basics. The Greenstone site includes links to examples such as the New Zealand Digital Library Project ...The book includes an introduction to XML and related topics. Greenstone stores and processes XML data so the reader will have to understand XML to some degree to be able benefit from the subsequent explanation of how to use Greenstone. As a newcomer to XML I thought that the presentation was good for the amount of space that could be devoted to it, but I still had a hard time following some of the later material.
The only problem I had with the book was that it had an uneven mix of broad strokes and technical detail. I found even much of the detail interesting (including a good introduction to Unicode) but I wished that the space had been devoted instead to a slower-paced, fuller explanation of the Greenstone architecture and how to build on it.
The choice of example projects for digital libraries given in the opening Orientation section are laudable, centering as they do on the support for human development, improvement of scientific communication, and preservation of indigenous cultures.
The authors provide a valuable cross-fertilization of ideas, which comes from a computer science perspective.
The main focus of this book is the fact that the digital library can be whatever we as librarians envision. A major objective is to use technology to replace repetitive human intervention. Surely this is a most valuable attainment for any organization. There are significant insights throughout the book that deal with user interfaces and how search engines operate on the Internet. Perhaps the strongest and best thread that runs throughout is the role of open standards. Bursting out of the chapter on Standards and Protocols, are excellent, non technical descriptions of major industry and formal standards like TWAIN, MPEG, Unicode, XML, OEBPS, and library standards, like Dublin Core, OAI, and Z39.50 on which the interconnecting webs of library systems are based. The authors, however, have most difficulty describing library standards, for example, MARC and AACR. The authors, however, are most at home with the technical aspects of Greenstone and provide an excellent overview of processes like indexing using optical character recognition, and searching free text using phrases and key phrases. They ask intriguing questions, such as, "Is the digital library an institution or a piece of technology?" though they falter in finding answers on occasion.
The approach of the authors is humorous and humanistic, helping to put technology into perspective within varied disciplines. The approach to communication is personal. Whimsical characters are used to illustrate points, such as, the King of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland
There are factual errors, which illustrate the main weakness of the book and may throw the main theses into some doubt. In stating that the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) scheme originates in England, demonstrate a lack of research on the part of the authors. Their failure to include a librarian as an editor is a definite faux pas. Factoids such as, "A recent edition of the big red books was published in 1998", betray their lack of understanding of conventional libraries. They do not appear to know that the Library of Congress updates authority databases continually and publishes their major products online on a regular basis and in various formats.
They frequently can be seen struggling to provide opaque descriptions of simple library processes and terminology. The understanding of basic concepts of librarianship would have been clearer had the corpus of established library knowledge been consulted more extensively. There are questionable assertions, like "Placing like books together adds an element of serendipity to searching".
They ultimately fail to make the connection between the eminently effective and efficient operation of worldwide library systems and the librarian in her "conventional" library. In fact the technology relies squarely on the co-operative spirit, the strongest, most fundamental characteristic of the librarian. They fail to link the systems with this mainspring of libraries, which facilitates sharing and fosters "interoperability" -- the sine qua non of library systems.
A conclusion they seem to be drawing is that there is no place for the librarian in their vision of the future digital library. This is a provocative question: could they possibly be right? The value of traditional cataloging is questioned.
An inescapable conclusion drawn is that the information set on which the work is based is selective, to say the least, and leads to a narrow and somewhat idiosyncratic view of libraries. There are some strange choices, like the hapless Charles Ammi Cutter, while the bulk of classics of modern technical librarianship are missing. Absent are luminaries of the technical library world, like Mai Chan, Roy Tennant and Henriette Avram. Clifford Lynch is relegated to a single entry in the bibliography.
Although the reader is left to fill in the blanks, the work is good read for those contemplating developing or working in a digital library. The book assists librarians to use technology to do more and do more efficiently. Overall there are important insights for the people who run libraries, however, the work reflects a patronizing view and has serious deficiencies. The reader must use with care to avoid reinventing some basic wheels.
Kathleen Crewdson, Ian Dew, NextLibrary
April 22, 2004