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North Carolina State University Libraries
Report to the Digital Library Federation
October 15, 2000


  • Collections, Services, and Systems
  • Projects and Programs

    I. Collections, Services, and Systems

    A. Collections

    NC State University Authors Database
    A unique new collection, the NC State University Authors Database is a listing of citations representing the published output since 1997 of faculty, research and administrative personnel, and students connected with North Carolina State University. Currently there are over 8100 articles, books, book chapters, editorials, patents, and published reports within the database, with approximately 200 to 300 more being added each month. While this database is not searchable by subject or keyword at present, plans call for this capability to be added soon.

    Nuclear Reactor History Project
    This project combines a multimedia presentation and EAD-encoded finding aids with a virtual archive of nuclear engineering research at North Carolina State University. NC State's reactor was the first atomic installation in the world devoted solely to the peacetime application of nuclear fission in an educational program. The archive combines records from the Department of Nuclear Engineering and the College of Engineering, photographs from the University Archives photograph collection, and a 1950-era home movie of an experiment conducted in the reactor. Departmental records from Nuclear Engineering include proposals to establish a nuclear engineering program, brochures, curriculum, short courses, schematics, and designs of the nuclear reactor, and the building dedication. Photographs scanned from the collection contain documentation of excavation and construction of the nuclear reactor and the nuclear engineering building.

    Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Project
    Since spring 1997, the NCSU Libraries, the Graduate School, and the Information Technology Division have collaborated on a pilot project that allows selected theses and dissertations to be submitted, approved, and accessed electronically. The local effort is part of a larger project sponsored by the Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA) and prototyped by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) to create a digital thesis and dissertation repository.

    Design Library Image Database project
    A new classification system has been developed to improve the organization of the Design Library's slide collection and provide better physical access. Almost 60,000 accession records for the collection have been entered into an MS Access database, now serving as a front end for an Oracle database. A portion of the collection has been scanned on Kodak Photo CD to provide thumbnail images. The database became available in beta form in Fall 2000. The database will be searchable using the fields of creator, title, set title, location of work, and a free text search (across all fields). The results of the search will include a thumbnail of the image (when available) and the bibliographic data.
    http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/dli/prototypes/sod_library/ - early proof-of-concept examples
    http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/cataloging/DesignSlides/intro.htm - project documentation

    AgNIC-Systematic Entomology
    NCSU Libraries is one of more than 25 institutions contributing to AgNIC, a guide to quality agricultural information on the Internet. NC State University provides information on the subject of Systematic Entomology, including the Metcalf Collection.

    Metcalf Digitization Project
    This project revolves around the unique Zeno P. Metcalf card catalog and its literature collection on the insect order, Homoptera. It is taking on a virtual existence in collaboration with the Department of Entomology and the Special Collections department. Within the 5-year project plan under an NSF grant, 500,000 references will be searchable within a web-accessible database. The first year's achievements have included the creation of a relational database that now contains over 300 records from the author index, the digitization of over 1,200 journal titles unique to this collection, prototype development of the browser interface, and Boolean search capabilities. In conjunction with this work, the team scans many items such as color plates, journal articles, title pages, and illustrations within the collection.

    Library Science Serials Collection
    The "Mr. Serials Process" is an ongoing research project in automated methods for collecting and disseminating electronic magazines. While the service is beginning to show its age, the collection it is creating is one of a kind and will represent significant research materials in years to come. Originally conceived at a time when electronic magazines were distributed via email, the Mr. Serials Process subscribes to electronic journals in the area of library science. As new issues arrive, they are sorted and saved to a holding bin for processing. A program is then run which examines the collected items, extracts the necessary bibliographic information, and saves the titles to a WWW site where they are made available. At its height, Mr. Serials subscribed as many as two dozen electronic serials, but as these publications have been made available on the Web, fewer and fewer titles are distributed via email. Consequently, the Mr. Serials Process only maintains around six titles. Currently the entire Mr. Serials archive includes more than 30 MB of data from thousands of issues. About two new issues arrive every week, and they are processed accordingly.

    Quick Response Collection
    This project is a database organizing and making available lists of journal articles on the topic of Quick Response, a manufacturing technique. Working in conjunction with the Textiles Library and financially sponsored by a professional textile organization (The American Textile Manufacturers Institute), citations focusing on Quick Response were collected from commercial bibliographic databases. These citations were reformatted, imported into a database application, and made available via a WWW interface as a public service to textile manufacturers and researchers.

    B. Services and Systems

    Scanning and Digitization Laboratory
    In April 2000, the NCSU Libraries' Scanning Lab opened as part of the Learning and Research Center for the Digital Age (LRCDA). The lab provides access to a variety of scanners, including photograph, slide, document, and microform, to faculty, students, and staff. Lab staff provide instruction and support for digital image and document management issues. They assist faculty with scanning images for online courses, publication requirements, and book reviews. Students are using the lab to scan slides for dissertation research, add images to presentations, and create electronic copies of lecture notes. Library staff use the lab to scan materials from Special Collections and Archives for inclusion in multimedia presentations and for digital collection building.

    Usability Research Laboratory (URL)
    This usability testing lab facilitates the development of expertise in a user-centered approach to the creation and evaluation of web-based materials and services. Library staff are using the lab to test new services, software, and web pages. Faculty have the opportunity to test and observe the way students interact with their course materials. Students are learning to use the lab equipment to design and implement usability testing projects. Staff around the university are using the lab to test their new portals. The lab consists of state-of-the-art equipment capable of collecting video, audio, and computer data in real time for observation and analysis. Preliminary documentation is now available.

    MyLibrary@NCState is a ground-breaking model for customized digital delivery of library collections and services. It has been developed as open-source software. To date, the software has been downloaded by over 300 interested individuals or institutions around the world. Available support includes a link to a mailing list, a place to download the code, and a "sandbox." In the sandbox, a user can create one or more accounts and customize them any way the system allows. Furthermore, from the user interface it is possible to "play" with the administrative back-end, adding, editing, deleting, and setting preferences for the user interface. Be forewarned, the sandbox is filled with data left by previous users.

    Laptop Lending Service
    The NCSU Libraries provides laptop computers for in-building use by students, faculty, and staff of NC State University and individuals with an NCSU Libraries borrowing card. The Laptop Lending Service offers three different laptop configurations: Windows '98, dual-boot Windows-Linux, and Macintosh.

    Nomadic Computing
    "Nomadic" authentication and wireless netwroking (IEEE 802.11-compliant) became available at the main library in Fall 2000. These services are available for Laptop Lending Service computers or for use with personal machines individuals with an NC State Unity account.

    Electronic Books
    The Libraries is running a pilot lending program featuring two types of eBook readers, each of which is preloaded with up to ten electronic book titles, plus, in some cases, a general purpose dictionary. This is a chance for library users to try out a new technology that may have a significant impact on the future of information access, use, and portability. "Rocket eBooks" and "SoftBooks" circulate for a seven-day loan period to users with a valid NCSU Libraries borrowing card. The NCSU Libraries also makes available over 17,000 eBooks from netLibrary.

    Remote Access
    Current NCSU faculty, staff, and students with Unity user accounts or NCSU Libraries borrowing card numbers can gain access to the Libraries' electronic resources and services through a proxy server. By using the proxy server, off-campus users can route their database login requests through the on-campus network.

    Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
    The NCSU Libraries provides assistance in locating and selecting spatial data resources for use with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), computer-based systems that facilitate the input, storage, manipulation, and output of georeferenced data. The spatial and numeric data collection, with an accompanying online thesaurus, offers networked access to a wide variety of data resources. Interactive Web-based mapping applications make the data resources easily accessible for novice users.

    The NCSU Libraries is a primary server site for NC LIVE, a statewide digital resource initiative encompassing all community colleges, public libraries, private academic institutions, and public academic institutions in the state of North Carolina. NC LIVE implemented a comprehensive remote access solution for its digital resources in 1999, making it the first such regional project to deliver easy remote-access to a broad range of online information resources in a diverse coalition environment. NC LIVE staff at the NCSU Libraries are currently assessing the feasibility of a single search interface for easier access to all digital collections licensed by NC LIVE. Such an interface will also allow improved access for the disabled by incorporating visual and architectural design elements that accommodate software designed for users with disabilities.

    Electronic Reserves
    The NCSU Libraries' electronic-reserve system was among the first to couple the existing integrated library system's reserve module capabilities with digital materials. This model requires no special reserve software and provides a system that is integrated with the online catalog and thus easy for users to access from both on- and off-campus locations. In its second phase, the e-reserves system is incorporating the capability to deliver color images and to accept electronic documents, as well as experimenting with placing vendor-supplied electronic books on reserve. Selected materials are now being scanned and processed with optical character recognition software to make them accessible to "screen reader" applications used by visually impaired students.

    Real-time Reference and Research Services
    Librarians respond to questions in person and by telephone, fax, and electronic mail, 24 hours per day. The Libraries has experimented with Internet "chat" software, and is currently preparing to implement a Web-based "Virtual Reference Desk" system that will facilitate real-time reference and instructional services.

    Distance Learning Services
    In the emerging distance education environment, the librarian can perform a valuable role in evaluating online information resources and providing support for organizing electronic information for scholarly use. The Distance Learning Services Department coordinates the library's efforts to address the information needs of the growing population of off-campus learners. It uses traditional services, such as interlibrary loan, reserves, bibliographic instruction, and reference, as well as developing creative online services in collaboration with other staff. These new services can simultaneously support the local teaching and learning community and expand the library's reach. Three major current initiatives are the use of MyLibrary@NCState; exploration of innovative applications of the knowledge-base concept; and publication of a compact disk containing library information, guides, and tools for both service promotion and off-line support.

    II. Projects and Programs

    The Digital Media Collections Framework
    This framework provides an organizer for decision making on tools available to deliver digital media to the desktop or classroom, for an individual faculty member, a department or school, or for the library enterprise. This project has grown from designing need-specific, subject-focused databases that support instruction to a template tool for database customization and open-platform delivery on the web. The desktop database model has four other associated parts: plans for a desktop controlled-vocabulary builder, guidelines for digitizing media, file naming and directory structure recommendations, and a media description framework. A prototype should be available by the end of fall 2000. It will be presented for discussion at the Fall 2000 DLF Forum in Chicago.

    Please send comments or suggestions.
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