University of Pennsylvania
Report to the Digital Library Federation
July 1, 2001
TABLE OF CONTENTSCollections, Services, and Systems
Projects and Programs
Specific Digital Library Challenges
- The Oxford University Press History Books Project
The size of the Oxford University Press History Books collection has
doubled since our last report, and there are now more than 250 books
available to readers in the Penn community. The Mellon-funded project, which
is studying digital book use and its impact on teaching, learning, and the
economics of publishing, has attracted the interest of other academic
publishers as well. We hope to extend the scope of this project to
include history titles from these additional publishers in the years
- Fisher Fine Arts Library Digital Collection
One of two digital image collections now available to users from our
digital images project, this collection contains over 100,000 metadata
records for slides in our fine arts libraries. About 30,000 of these
slides have been digitized, and can be viewed on-line. Users anywhere
on the Web can search and view the metadata records and thumbnail images.
Users at Penn can also see larger versions of the digital images.
Some of these images are presented in MrSID, with a web interface that
supports user-controlled zooming into fine details of the images,
and control over the image size and bandwidth.
- Penn/AIIS (American Institute of Indian Studies) Art Archive
A sample of digitized photographs from the Library's South Asia collection
can now be viewed on-line, under the same terms as the Fisher Fine Arts
Library Digital collection. The sample contains about 500 images,
and is mainly on-line now to demonstrate and test cross-collection
searching and browsing. We hope to further expand our image
collections and cross-collection access services in the future.
- Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Image
The SCETI site has recently added MrSID support for selected documents
(see above), allowing users to zoom in on fine details of digitally
scanned manuscripts. SCETI has also recently migrated to a database
format, with support for search. Redesigns of the main SCETI site
with additional functionality are also in the works. We are also
beginning to make some of SCETI's metadata harvestable via the
Open Archives Initiative (see below).
- A Celebration of Women Writers
About a dozen new titles have been added to the Celebration's repository
of publications, which now has more than 150 titles. Metadata records
for the Celebration's republished editions can now be harvested via the
Open Archives Initiative (see below).
Additionally, a search interface has been added for the Celebration's
database of women writers, allowing information on writers to be located
by criteria that include name, dates, country, and ethnicity.
- Live Online Reference
Interactive "chat" services are now available to the Penn community
at certain times on a pilot basis, as a supplement to in-person,
telephone, email, and web searching services. The Libraries have
introduced late-night reference chat on Monday-Wednesday nights
after the reference desk and the main library have closed.
Additionally, the Lippincott library offers live online reference
support for business questions on weekday afternoons and evenings.
Live chat is backed up by FAQs and emailed transcriptions. We
are considering expanding live online reference services to other
libraries as well.
- Books by Mail Service
Books By Mail is a new service offered on an experimental basis to Penn
graduate students and faculty members to facilitate their research while
living away from campus. Eligible participants can click on a "Request"
button in our online catalog to request delivery of most on-shelf Penn Library
circulating materials via insured carrier to their homes. Users register
via our Web site, with other communication handled via email.
- Electronic Databases Search Tool
A new electronic database search tool is now available to our users.
Similar to the electronic journal search tool made public last fall,
this service gives patrons a much more powerful discovery tool for
our electronic databases than our previous static Web pages provided.
The search system allows patrons to locate databases by their title
or by their description, and to select databases of interest to a particular
community or discipline. Our bibliographers have included detailed
descriptions of each database, which users can view in full or see in
summary form. Additionally, the bibliographers have rated the importance
of each database to various communities. These ratings make it possible
for users to quickly locate databases that are most important for a
particular domain of research. They also make it possible for users to find
databases on other subjects that they might not have considered, but
that have interdisciplinary relevance to the user's field of inquiry.
- Uniform Resolution Service
The Uniform Resolution Service (URS) is a comprehensive system for
creating, maintaining, and resolving persistent, location-independent
identifiers for network-accessible resources. The URS builds on
previous work using Handles, and further provides for automatic detection
of access restrictions and proxy requirements, and accounting for usage.
The resolution service maps an opaque resource identifier, a URS, to a URL
for the selected resource or service. The URS provides these major features:
Prototypes of the basic resolution service are now available, and
will be soon be tested in our Electronic Journals search tool.
Administrative functions are currently in development.
- Standardized, short URLs for the Penn community
- Administrative functions that
- automatically assign a unique URS and associate that URS
with a resource or service URL
- perform automatic, frequent link checking to ensure accuracy
- search and display URS metadata for any URS, URL or resource name
- provide a global change function for URLs
- Automatic proxy for off-campus users with no special browser
configuration or plugins required, easing browser configuration
problems for our community
- Standardized accounting for use of resources and services
- Open Archives Initiative Server
We now have a server that provides harvestable digital collection metadata
through the Open Archives Initiative. Through this project, we can publicize
metadata on digital objects in a variety of formats, including Dublin Core
and MARC. We currently have two registered repositories:
Metadata from other collections are likely to follow as well.
- Celebration of Women Writers: over 150 records of books
digitally published by the project, in Dublin Core.
- Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Image (SCETI): about 50
records of digital facsimiles in the Furness Shakespeare collection,
in both MARC and Dublin Core.
Penn is working with Columbia and Yale (and RLG) on expanding a pilot project
that facilitates borrowing between university libraries. The BorrowDirect
system, which became available in late 1999, allows Penn users to search
catalogs and borrow items from our BorrowDirect partners when they are
checked out or otherwise not available at Penn. Response times and
costs have proven to be significantly lower than with traditional inter-
library loan, with most materials available within 4 working days, and
costs of less than half of traditional ILL. Users can also have more control
in searching for and choosing desired items. Now that we have observed the
benefits of the system, we plan to bring a few additional peer libraries
into the BorrowDirect group, and move to an upgraded software support system.
- Electronic Journal Archives
In a Mellon-funded initiative, we are planning and prototyping
archive services for electronic journals. As subscribers to over
5000 electronic serial titles, we are highly concerned about reliable,
affordable long-term availability and usability of these journals.
Our planning project focuses on:
We hope this project will build on ongoing publisher relationships
in experimenting with digital documents. A key goal
in the planning year involved support for managing and migrating
- working with academic presses
- clear statements of archival rights and responsibilities
- early prototyping to anticipate difficulties
- managing costs, aiming for as low as possible per volume
- support of replication, migration, verification, and transfer
- Electronic Course Support
Instructors at Penn are increasingly using electronic materials
and courseware to help them teach their classes. In the past, we
have supported such teaching through our electronic course reserves
service and our assistance with web-based course resource guides.
We are now planning to take on a more central role in supporting
courseware systems, and in integrating them with library resources.
Specifically, we plan to take over maintenance of the Blackboard
system, now in use in several schools in the university, in the next
- Open Knowledge Initiative
We are also highly interested in new courseware developments, particularly
in open-source courseware, and in the potential such systems may have
to better support our faculty's teaching, and integrate course materials
and library resources. We are partners in the Mellon-funded Open
Knowledge Initiative, which aims to produce better courseware through
open source development and input from the academic community.
- ENCompass Development
The Library is collaborating with Endeavor Information Systems
to help develop the ENCompass product for managing and providing access to
local and remote digital collections. We produced a requirements
statement for a digital library management architecture, and for
user and system interface functionality, that Endeavor will be using
in the further development of its system. We have now installed the
software locally, and will be testing it in the development of digital
library collections and applications, and working with Endeavor to help make
its system full-featured and robust.
- Electronic Table of Contents
We are continuing to plan services for notifying users of new information
they may be interested in. We are developing an architecture, and
are beginning to develop software, for a table of contents alert service
for selected journals. The system would harvest information about
new journal issues from publisher web sites, vendor email, and
commercial table-of-contents services. It could then display information
about new journal material on appropriate community of interest pages,
as the result of a search query (similar to our existing New Books Plus
service) or directly delivered to a user (via email or a customized web page)
based on that user's previously expressed preferences. The service
will include both existing third-party software and newly developed
software. We are currently seeking funding for this project; progress
will depend on available funding and personnel.
- Designing archives for long-term preservation of digital journals
- Implementing harvesting for notification services
- Providing authenticated, personalized views of library materials
- Developing and using effective measurements for assessing the
effectiveness of library services and collections
- Strengthening the information competence of students and faculty
- Working with ENCompass to test and help develop an effective platform
for digital collection management, access, and cross-collection search
- Installing, integrating, and helping develop effective learning
send comments or suggestions.
© 2000 Council on Library and Information Resources