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Contexts and Contributions:
Building the Distributed Library

Martha L. Brogan
Washington, D.C.

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About the Author

Martha L. Brogan is the author of two previous studies commissioned by the Digital Library Federation and the Council on Library and Information Resources:

Ms. Brogan is an independent library consultant with two decades of experience in research libraries at the University of Minnesota, Yale University, and Indiana University, where she served as associate dean and director of collection development from 1998 to 2003. She currently holds an appointment on CLIR's Scholarly Communications Advisory Committee. In 2001 Ms. Brogan participated as a fellow in the Frye Leadership Institute sponsored by CLIR, Educause, and Emory University.


In writing this report, I am indebted to many principal investigators, researchers, and scholars who are affiliated with the constellation of aggregation services under review. They generously responded to the online survey conducted by the Digital Library Federation in fall 2005 and continued to provide feedback about their services as the report evolved. Their names and project affiliations appear in Appendix 1, along with my heartfelt thanks. Carol Minton Morris and John Saylor deserve special mention for helping me negotiate my way through the National Science Digital Library. Thomas Habing, Martin Halbert, Elizabeth Milewicz, Katherine Skinner, and Katherine Kott all provided useful critiques and helped to improve the report. Kat Hagedorn repeatedly went above and beyond the call of duty in responding to my inquiries not only about OAIster but also more generally about OAI service provider issues. Too numerous to cite individually here, are the many other specialists who willingly shared their expertise with me. Their names are listed with gratitude in Appendix 2. In the early stages of developing this report, I benefited from the advice of David Stern, Donald Waters, and Gary Wiggins. Finally, Barrie Howard was swift to offer assistance from the good offices of the Digital Library Federation during the nine-month period while I was working on this report. David Seaman was unfailing in his support and patience.

Martha Brogan
June 2006


Martha L. Brogan's Contexts and Contributions: Building the Distributed Library is a major contribution to the Digital Library Federation's (DLF) suite of work that focuses on the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). With generous funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, DLF has harnessed deep OAI expertise from the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Emory University to prototype "next-generation" OAI services informed by advisory panels of scholars and technical experts; to build registries of providers to aid in the creation of new OAI-based services; and to formulate best practices for sharable metadata that focus what we have learned collectively for innovative library services. The best practices work has received intellectual and practical support from our colleagues at the National Science Digital Library (NSDL), a service of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Contexts and Contributions had its starting point in a 2003 survey of digital library aggregation services compiled by Martha Brogan for DLF: A Survey of Digital Library Aggregation Services http://www.diglib.org/pubs/brogan/. This environmental scan was influential in the understanding of our early attempts to craft aggregated digital library services that served students and scholars well, and it had a very positive impact on the development of the services that followed.

The current work is more difficult because the environment is maturing, and changing rapidly. Its value and timeliness is increased because of that, and I am proud that DLF can sponsor such a detailed evaluation of a shifting, but critically important landscape. Martha Brogan's current study draws our attention to "major developments affecting the ecosystem of scholarly communications and digital libraries" and gives us all a rich comparative analysis of digital library aggregation services, including a clear-sighted view of-in Martha's words- "the obstacles requiring further attention to realize ... an open, distributed digital library."

The Digital Library Federation is delighted to acknowledge our funders and expert partners in this important work. We are pleased to have another opportunity to underscore our commitment to those standards, tools, and technologies that allow us to build innovative services that scholars and students need to produce richer teaching, learning, and scholarship.

David Seaman
Executive Director
Digital Library Federation
October 2006

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