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Pennsylvania State University
Report to the Digital Library Federation
October 15, 2000


  • Collections, Services, and Systems
  • Projects and Programs
  • Specific Digital Library Challenges
  • Announcements

    I. Collections, Services, and Systems

    A. LIAS and Web Development

    System Infrastructure and ILS
    Our Libraries strategic planning efforts have consistently emphasized the value of strong collections and the critical nature of access to resources for students and faculty. In the interest of developing efficient access to our collections, both print and electronic, the LIAS system (Library Information Access System) has evolved from a stand-alone locally developed system into a Web front-end, under which we provide a growing suite of applications software. It has been extended recently through choice of an integrated library system (Sirsi) to handle our bibliographic data and internal work flows; Oracle as a relational database; and SiteSearch and Open Text for full text applications. It also links to a variety of outside databases (over 6000 e-journals from approximately 300 aggregators) and internal Web pages. LIAS is developed and maintained in partnership between the University Libraries and Library Computing Services (a division of Computing and Information Systems). The various software platforms run on the university's backbone, which links all 24 campuses within the Pennsylvania State University. The backbone at University Park is Internet2 compliant.

    Library Computing Services will be purchasing additional system hardware, including servers to support the new system and other growing needs for computing power at all our locations. Within the Pattee and Paterno complex and at the subject branches, they also supply additional services such as data ports for students to bring their own laptops and link in to system resources. Over the last two years, the Libraries has greatly increased the numbers of computers available to staff, consolidated to essentially one platform (PC), planned for appropriate life-cycling, and purchased a more powerful desktop computer as a "standard" that gives our staff the capability of working efficiently in this increasingly technological environment, and provides the infrastructure for continued development.

    Libraries Web Development
    The Libraries has been an active implementer of technologies for distributing information on the Web since the early days of this means of communicating and organizing information. Each subject library and other units maintain an active Web page with information and techniques to assist patrons. For example, the Gateway Library provides information on laptops for in-house loan, job search and graduate school resources, information on researching topics, etc. The Special Collections site facilitates use of their materials with FAQ'S, finding aids, and specialized links. A number of innovative instructional initiatives by librarians at various locations are using the Web for delivery, including the "Information Literacy and You" site, the Gateway Library's "Brainfood," and Berks-Lehigh Valley and Delaware's "Training Wheels." There is also an active Intranet site for Libraries' staff and faculty with promotion and tenure information, human resources and travel information, pages for the Library Faculty Organization, strategic plans since 1991, and collection development policies and information. A Web Re-Engineering Group is currently looking at ways to make the Web more useful and more accessible systemwide, and we are involving a large group of staff in the suggestions and decision-making process.

    B. CIC Virtual Electronic Library

    The CIC Virtual Electronic Library (VEL) project is intended, ultimately, to provide seamless access to both traditional and digital library collections across the CIC member institutions. The current implementation provides a web-based interface into the public access catalogs of the CIC members university libraries, allows patrons to initiate their own interlibrary loan requests, and is creating a management system for these requests.

    It is now time to build on the success of the first phase of the project and extend the VEL to encompass access to digital collections. Such a digital collection should be developed with efforts supporting two strategies:

    • The identification and deployment of a standards-based framework, or architecture, providing access to distributed digital collections developed, housed, and maintained at each CIC University. With such a distributed architecture, based on existing and emerging standards, there is opportunity for each institution to develop systems, which meet local needs and draw on local infrastructure, but still meet the consortial goals of aggregating or federating resources.

    • The initiation of several collaborative projects that focus on digital content development and access, within the distributed architectural framework described above. Pilot projects should support specific academic programs across the CIC, and should include: 1) collaborative creation of digital works of retrospective and historic collection; 2) collaborative creation of specialized databases such as GIS; 3) coordinated maintenance of Internet resources.

    The following efforts are currently in place to further these goals:

    • Continued acquisition of electronic resources through group licensing;
    • Implementation of interoperable security, authentication, and authorization systems;
    • Exploration of metadata standards for digital objects and collections, and when possible and desirable the development of tool kits for the creation and use of metadata throughout the CIC.
    • Exploration of cooperative Electronic Theses and Dissertation (ETD) projects

    The next steps in achieving our goals are:

    • Exploration, development, and testing of models for coordinated archiving responsibilities and technologies;
    • Identification of standards for the creation of digital collections and associated access structures, and when possible and desirable the development of "toolkits" for the creation and use of such collections; and
    • Development of an architecture for interoperation access, incorporating access to bibliographic data, metadata, and digital objects.

    In December 2000 the CIC libraries held a strategic planning meeting to identify the next steps toward reaching these goals. The meeting focused on collection development, preservation, technological, and technical services issues. In preparation for the meeting a series of white papers were prepared. They addressed:

    • The organization of web-based resources
    • Partnering and relationships with scholarly societies as publishers
    • Libraries as "publishers;"
    • Developing digital content within the CIC; and
    • Partnerships with commercial publishes and other commercial enterprises.

    C. PALCI-Pennsylvania Academic Library Consortium, Inc.

    In June of 1997, Penn State and four other academic institutions (the University of Pittsburgh, Lehigh University, Lafayette College and the Indiana University of Pennsylvania) signed a letter of intent with CPS and the Pennsylvania Academic Library Consortium, Inc. (PALCI) to test CPS's Universal Resources Sharing Application (URSA) software. This software is designed to permit a patron at one library to search for a title simultaneously in the other participating libraries' catalogues and then request the title be sent to his or her home library. The book then goes to the requesting library, which charges the patron through its circulation system.

    Since each of the five participating libraries had a different online system, CPS had to write an interface that would allow each system to work with the others. The project hoped to meet three goals: (1) to streamline and accelerate the process of sharing library materials among member institutions; (2) to leverage the investment in member library collections by making it easier for users in other institutions to locate and request materials unavailable in their home libraries; and (3) to develop for the PALCI membership a low-cost technology program that might be adapted by other academic consortia.

    Penn State sent and received its first request through PALCI in May of 1998. Since then, interest among our staff members has grown. They now show patrons how to order books on their own through PALCI when Penn State does not own a title or it is otherwise unavailable, and our patrons seem to appreciate the ability to order materials on their own.

    Compared to the traditional Interlibrary Loan procedure, the main advantages this system offers is the reduced paper work and statistics keeping involved. We can see on-line what has been ordered, received and returned. We are notified immediately when an item is unavailable for borrowing, at which point we revert to Interlibrary Loan. The statistics are tallied automatically and are instantly retrievable. We have no need to keep track of overdue books because the on-line circulation system accomplishes that function.

    Although only five universities currently participate in the project, we look forward to more of our academic partners in Pennsylvania joining this reciprocal effort. Additional academic institutions are scheduled for implementation.

    II. Projects and Programs

    A. Digital Library Projects at Penn State

    Penn State has developed digital project initiatives to provide a platform for developing our long-term strategic planning and to serve as the test bed for participation in national and international cooperative digital projects. These form an array of primary, rare, and often unique works and artifacts held in the Libraries.

    Birket Foster, Victorian Illustrator; A Memorial Exhibition in Honor of Charles W. Mann (1929-1998) Collection
    Birket Foster was part of one of the great periods of book illustration in England. A former apprentice of Thomas Bewick, he worked for the London News early in his career, and soon after he began to make drawings for the illustrated books of the day. He is also among the most loved of the Victorian watercolorists.

    Digital Chart of the World Collection
    The Digital Chart of the World is a 1:1,000,000-scale vector basemap of the world. Originally designed for the Defense Mapping Agency (now known as National Imagery and Mapping Agency), this edition is the ESRI product and PSU was given permission to modify the output format to increase ease of access. Instead of using geographically based tiles individual countries may be chosen and then data layers specified (there are 17 layers of cultural and physical data) to build digital maps for use in an Arc form GIS. TIFFs may also be downloaded. This product was published in 1992, so some national boundaries are no longer current. There is no plan to update this product with the new NIMA edition available through USGS.

    Alma Mahler-Werfel Letters Collection
    Alma Mahler-Werfel was a highly talented artist whose life was surrounded by art and artists. She studied art and became friends with the painter Gustav Klimt, who made several portraits of her. Her primary interest however was in music. She was married for many years to Gustav Mahler and after his death in 1911 Alma had an affair with Oskar Kokoschka, who painted her many times. She then married the architect Walter Gropius and after their divorce she married the writer Franz Werfel in 1929. In her lifetime she also befriended the composer Arnold Schoenberg, the writer Gerhart Hauptmann, the composer Alban Berg, and the singer Enrico Caruso. As a 70th birthday gift to Mahler-Werfel, an illustrious group of some 80 friends (including Schoenberg and Thomas Mann), wrote individual birthday letters to her and had the letters decoratively bound in leather. This project includes the digitized manuscript letters as well as annotated commentary. (Project in process; because of copyright restrictions access may be restricted.)

    Emblem Books Project Collection (implemented 1995; ongoing
    A collaborative project with the University Libraries' Arts and Humanities Library's Digital Resources Center, Special Collections and Preservation Department, the Emblem Book Project undertakes to digitize and make accessible both images and text from selected English and Italian 17th-18th century emblem books in the University Libraries' Rare Books Room collection. Research and design issues for this project include alignment of image and text; textual transcriptions; image preservation standards; creation of an image database to provide intellectual access to iconographical content of the images; and collaboration with teaching faculty in English and art history. The scope of this initiative comprises both enhanced access and preservation of collections.

    Order of Railway Conductors and Brakemen, Local 160 Records, 1884-1927 Collection
    The Order of Railway Conductors and Brakemen was founded in 1868 in Amboy, Illinois as the Conductors Union. This collection contains records relating to the Wyoming Valley-Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Division 160. In addition to division material documenting local activities, the collection includes circulars and memos generated by the national office in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Included are: minutes (1884-1922), financial records (1884-1927), applications for membership, general correspondences, circulars, and reports.

    A selected portion of the correspondence, circulars, and reports; minute books; cash books; and attendance roll book were scanned as part of the Making of America II Testbed Project.

    Steel Workers' Organizing Committee Collection
    The Steel Workers' Organizing Committee (SWOC) Collection documents the six-year struggle starting in 1936 to unionize the steel industry. The collection illustrates the struggle for industry-wide collective bargaining and stable labor-management relations, highlighting the success of the principle of industrial unionism. The collection contains 275 files of 13,750 single sheets including photographs, correspondence, reports, broadsides, handbooks, pamphlets, and so on. The papers derive from the private personal collections of six individuals.

    14,517 images scanned in 1992-1993 (image capture completed in June 1993) using the Xerox Documents on Demand (XDOD) flatbed scanning workstation. 600 dpi raster images reside on two magneto optical disks. Since 1994, these images have been migrated twice to keep the data accessible as hardware upgrades occurred. (Due to copyright concerns these images have NOT been made accessible and are not available to the public.)

    Geologic Maps of Pennsylvania Counties Collection
    Maps scanned from the print publication: A geological hand atlas of the sixty-seven counties of Pennsylvania embodying the results of the fieldwork of the survey, from 1874 to 1884. By J.P. Lesley (Report of Progress, Geological survey, 1885). These maps have been scanned on a HP5100C color scanner at 300 dpi with color matching, then stored as JPEG images. Text was re-keyed from the original document. Two images are available for each county, a screen size image and an original page size image. Descriptive text is also provided for each county.

    Pennsylvania State University. Agricultural Extension Service. County Extension Agent Collection, 1912-1988
    This project, begun in 1993, digitizes the county extension agents' narrative and statistical annual reports of their activities using Xerox DigiPath Production Software. The reports are arranged alphabetically by county, there under chronologically. Twenty-six of sixty-seven counties have been scanned in this ongoing project. Current work includes: scanning staff are editing previously scanned records to remove and delete Social Security numbers and are renaming files to improve access. Staff are also working with Xerox to provide direct link of the images to the homepage. http://www.libraries.psu.edu/crsweb/speccol/digit/pamap2.html

    Penn State-University Park Campus History Digital Archives
    This collection of primary source materials has been gathered and placed on the web to enable students and others to learn about the history of the Penn State-University Park campus, including its design and planning, as well as the individual buildings that comprise the campus' built environment. The digital archives is divided into five major categories of materials: the history of the campus, maps, development plans, buildings (including photographs, floor plans, statistical information, and news releases and articles), and campus landmarks (Historic Penn State brochure and references to the historical markers on campus).

    Penn State Sports Collection
    This collection will include scanned images photographs, biographies, and media guides relating to athletics at Penn State. Project is in process.

    State College History Collection
    This collection will include scanned images of photographs, maps, and architectural drawings on the history of State College, Pennsylvania. Project is in process.

    Pennsylvania Bridges Collection, 1884-1915
    The collection contains photographs of railroad bridges in Pennsylvania, mostly in the Pittsburgh area, 1891-1915. Photographs include technical drawings, depicting structural details and complete designs of modern railroad bridges, 1903-1904. Photographers include H. B. Harmer, R. W. Johnson, F. H. Miller, C. K. Mohler, H. E. Platt, and Lewis R. Snow. 23 images were scanned as part of the Making of America II Testbed Project.

    Earth and Mineral Sciences Digital Maps Project
    Approximately 289 oversize, geologic maps (between 2'x3' and 4'x6') of Pennsylvania were selected and scanned by an outside vendor. Each map was scanned using a Tangent large-size, color flatbed scanner. Each map was scanned at 300 dpi using 24 bit color matching. Each image was stored in uncompressed TIFF format and transferred to CD-ROM. File sizes ranged from 100-500 megabytes. The files will be compressed using MrSID compression software, making it possible to view them at a variety of sizes at a fraction of the original file size. The maps were taken from a variety of sources including works of the 2nd Pennsylvania Geological Survey, the 4th Pennsylvania Geological Survey, and the United States Geological Survey.

    B. Making of America II Testbed Project

    Penn State completed its portion of the Making of America II testbed project in February 2000. The Libraries Preservation Department scanned 2,656 images for portions of two archival collections: Pennsylvania Bridges Collection (23 photographs and their versos) and the Order of Railway Conductors Local 160 Records:

    Preservation staff created the master archival images (600 dpi) most in grayscale and some in color, as the item in hand warranted, plus derivative images for viewing at 120 dpi and thumbnail images at 90 dpi.

    The metadata information on the MOA2 database is housed at the University of California, Berkeley along with the other cooperating institutions' database files; the images remain at each institution. Links from the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) finding aids point to the database which in turn provides the navigation through the scanned images.

    The images are embedded in the online finding aid for the Pennsylvania Bridges Collection:

    C. Arts and Humanities Library's Digital Resources Center

    Digital Music Library (implemented 1998; ongoing)
    The Digital Music Library provides networked access to digitized audio information. Music audio materials are used by faculty and students daily throughout the academic year for classroom teaching, study, and research. Providing access to these audio works over the Internet enables multiple simultaneous uses 24 hours each day from classrooms, faculty offices, dormitory rooms, computer labs, and homes off campus. Research and design issues for this project include capture technology; synchronization of audio, text, and image; and collaboration with teaching faculty in music. Enhanced access for teaching and learning is the primary focus of this digital initiative.

    John Updike's Buchanan Dying: A Digital Project for Enhanced Access (1999/2000)
    The University Libraries' Special Collections owns Updike's manuscripts, notes, and correspondence related to his play Buchanan Dying. In collaboration with the Rare Books Room, a graduate student in English is digitizing and marking up selected materials to provide networked access, and researching the work's evolution to elucidate Updike's creative process. Enhanced access and added research value are the focus of this digital initiative. In progress.

    D. Digital Instructional Initiatives

    One of the goals of the Penn State University Strategic Plan is for every student to be a "world-class learner." Information Literacy is a major part of achieving world-class learners. Information Literacy is also a new component of the definition of general education at Penn State. Thus, a major goal of the instructional programs of the University Libraries to promote and encourage the development of information literacy in all Penn State students through collaboration with University faculty, students, staff, and administrators. The acquisition of information literacy is a cumulative process throughout the undergraduate years. The means of attaining information literacy will be progressively integrated into the entire Penn State curriculum with growing focus and specificity as students progress through their majors.

    Several projects have been undertaken to meet these goals. Digital initiatives provide the ability to scale instructional efforts to reach larger numbers of students, provide a medium for delivering instruction that is appealing to students, and provide a distributed learning environment in which students at all locations may access instructional materials. The following projects have been piloted and are currently available and in use by students and faculty at all locations.

    Information Literacy & You
    A series of interactive web based modules designed to teach research techniques and strategies in the information age. Designed and developed under the leadership of Carol Wright in collaboration with a team of librarians as content advisors and two graduate assistants for instructional design and technical expertise. These modules include defining a topic, identifying resources, using periodicals and journals, searching online databases, locating resources, using web resources, evaluating a search, and citing sources. Each module has a "Research Log" for students to record information on their own topics and a "Test Yourself" component.

    Training Wheels
    A web based introduction to the libraries of the various Penn State Campuses, including a tutorial for the online catalog, several periodical databases, print and electronic reference sources, and searching and evaluating the World Wide Web. Tutorials guide students through a live online search session. Designed and developed by Susan Ware and Cindy Nicotera.

    Brain Food
    A series of digital vignettes on a variety of topics designed to capture student's interest and guide them to the discovery of additional information resources that might be found through the online catalog, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and a periodical database. Designed and developed under the leadership of Tona Henderson with a team of graphic designers, writers, and technical assistants.

    In addition, librarians in the subject libraries have developed an extensive array of web based instructional materials for use in providing reference services, and course and credit instruction. Future initiatives include subject based online tutorials.

    III. Specific Digital Library Challenges

    Digital Initiative Group.
    A Digital Initiative Group was formed at Penn State in March 2000 to move the Libraries' digital initiatives forward and to create a more formal structure for digital library strategic planning.

    IV. Announcements

    Partnership in Public Service
    The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Institute for Museums and Libraries have approved funding for a project to be led by Penn State. This project calls for new collaborative efforts between libraries, museums, and public television stations. The local project at Penn State is called "History Past, History Present." It is being developed around the Palmer Museum's Exhibition in January 2001 called "History Past, History Present: The Daguerreotype Portrait of Colonel James Duncan." The University Libraries, through its Special Collections, will provide historical material and contribute a collection of daguerreotype portraits for the exhibit. Penn State Public Broadcasting will share in the marketing of the event by producing five interstitials for television and a radio feature story, will develop a website component that will integrate the sites of all three partners, and will produce a documentary. Technical issues of standardizing formats that can be used both for digital television distribution and the Internet will be investigated. There will be seven additional sites around the United States with their own unique programming partnerships.

    Please send comments or suggestions.
    Last updated:
    © 2000 Council on Library and Information Resources

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