DLF logo Front Page
Printer-Friendly Page

DLF Home

Reports to the DLF

Technical Reports

Carnegie Mellon University Libraries
Report to the Digital Library Federation
January 15, 2002


  • Collections, services, and systems
  • Projects and programs
  • Specific digital library challenges
  • Digital library publications, policies, working papers, and other documents

    I. Collections, services, and systems

    A. Collections

    Charette Digital Project (Planning Phase)
    The Charette Digital Project will digitize and provide web-based public access to a regional architectural journal. Charette (vols. 1-54, 1920-1974) was the journal of the Pittsburgh Architectural Club; and was later co-sponsored by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Pennsylvania Society of Architects. Over the years, its coverage of architecture extended to the whole of Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and West Virginia. Carnegie Mellon University Libraries holds an extensive run of Charette, and will borrow missing issues from other institutions for scanning. The Charette Digital Project will create digital images of each page of Charette including text, photographs, graphics, advertisements, etc. The resulting digital archive will permit browsing by issue and full-text searching. Copyright status has been investigated and permissions have been acquired as needed. The project is modeled in part after the Canadian Architect and Builder Online project of McGill University's Blackader Lauterman Library of Architecture and Art. The Charette Digital Project is a project of the Carnegie Mellon University Architecture Archives. [Contact: Martin Aurand, ma1f@Andrew.cmu.edu]

    Costume Books Project (Planning Phase)
    For the last decade, the library has housed a selection of 157 costume books in non-circulating reserves at faculty request. The request was necessitated by extraordinary contention for the books, which are critical to students preparing for class assignments and productions. The library is now planning to make these items accessible via the Internet through a non-destructive digital scanning process. This would eliminate the problem of contention for the titles, and provide access to the images and text of the books 24/7. Scanning will also extend the life of those items that have become worn or have loose plates. Books whose copyright has expired will be made available on the web for a worldwide audience, while attempts will be made to obtain permissions to make copyrighted material more widely available - otherwise, Internet Protocol authentication will be used so that only Carnegie Mellon users will have access to the items. [Contact: Bella Gerlich, bg2r@andrew.cmu.edu]

    Digital Audio Reserves (Forthcoming Pilot)
    Carnegie Mellon?s digital audio project began in early 2001 with monitoring the Music Library Association's listserv and a digital audio listserv, gathering correspondence on digital audio projects. This included various opinions on software and legal issues. In June 2001, several representatives from Library Instructional Technology and the Arts and Special Collections unit made a trip to Penn State to speak with the people responsible for developing and implementing their digital audio reserves. In fall 2001, preliminary workflows, policies and procedures for creating, mounting and saving audio e-reserves files were established. A front-end for the web site was created, and implementation of an audio e-reserves pilot is ready for the spring semester 2002. To measure service capabilities, a survey will be created and distributed to the pilot group. Survey results will dictate changes to procedures/website prior to the anticipated release and marketing of service availability in the fall of 2002. [Contact: Bella Gerlich, bg2r@andrew.cmu.edu]

    Digital Image Database (Planning Phase)
    The University Libraries are creating an Image Database that will be introduced to the campus community in the fall of 2002. Based on the library's Slide Collection requests and usage, the images will be searchable and available via the web for viewing and using in a classroom setting, similar to current analog technologies. For each image there will be four JPEG files accessible in several sizes (constraining tool will automatically adjust height and width): thumbnail (128 x 99 dpi), small (250 x 206 dpi), working (640 x 480 dpi) and presentation (1024 x 768 dpi). In addition, an archival copy of each image will be preserved using the highest possible resolution TIFF format. Image resolutions were decided based on recommendations/standards from the Library of Congress (American Memory Collection) website, ARLIS conference presentations, various listservs and professional communiqués. Copyright information will be provided in for each record. The intellectual content provided to catalog the images will be generated by library staff. The Getty Research Institute's Vocabulary Databases, made available via the web to support limited research and cataloging efforts, may be consulted to standardize creator names, confirm dates etc. The Image Database will be available to Carnegie Mellon users only through Internet Protocol authentication. [Contact: Bella Gerlich, bg2r@andrew.cmu.edu]

    Digital Information Versatile Archive (DIVA)
    DIVA allows students and researchers to search, browse, view and print digital images of books, technical reports and archival documents. With specifications developed by Carnegie Mellon librarians and archivists, DIVA provides conventional access to library and archival materials, and adds powerful new functions for searching and retrieving documents, supporting multimedia, and customizing the structure and presentation of collections. At present, DIVA is used for more than one million pages of archival materials (Carnegie Mellon's H. John Heinz III Archives, Allen Newell Collection, and Herbert Simon Collection; and, in cooperation with The Carnegie Museum, the Diplodocus and Douglass Archive).

    Electronic Reserves
    Carnegie Mellon University Libraries began offering electronic Reserve Services in fall 2000 at the Hunt, Engineering & Science, and Mellon Institute Libraries. Brief item records are created in our online catalog (Sirsi Unicorn) for each title to be put on Reserve. Photocopied items submitted for Reserves are scanned into PDF format and placed on a server. A program runs nightly on the server to assign each item a URL and then forwards that URL to an email account. The URLs taken from that account are put into the 856 field of the brief record to create the link to the article (or other document).

    Users of our Reserve Services can search the Reserves Module in Unicorn by Instructor Name, Course Number, and Course Name. Once they call up the record for the item that they need, they can just click the link to get to the document. Its easy to view or print from there. Because our catalog is available on the web, members of our campus community can access reserve materials available electronically at any time and from any place. We use IP authentication to limit access to these materials. Using a proxy server allows those away from their campus account to access materials.

    Million Books Project
    As part of a program to maintain U. S. leadership in computer science and its applications, and to promote fundamental research and innovative uses of information technology (IT) in science and engineering, the National Science Foundation has awarded Drs. Raj Reddy and Gloriana St. Clair a one-year grant of $500,000 to carry out the "Million Book Project." The project is a cooperative international effort to digitize the seminal books in every field that happen to be in the public domain or are copyrighted but out of print, making them freely available on the Web to anyone at any time.

    One Million Digital Pages
    In fall 2001, The University Libraries celebrated a milestone: having digitized more than one million pages of primary source material and making it available to scholars on the web. Accomplished over several years (1993-2001), the achievement includes developing standards for digitization of archival material and for natural language processing, and successfully migrating the digitized collections to new technology (from HELIOS to DIVA) in the course of the work. Three of the university's most important archival collections were digitized: the H. John Heinz III Archives, Allen Newell Collection, and Herbert Simon Collection.

    Patron-Initiated Borrowing: ILLiad and PALCI
    Previous research into the needs and preferences of our interlibrary loan users made it clear to us that users on our campus wanted a system of requesting books and other materials from other libraries that would provide them with speedy delivery, a great deal of personal control and access to information about the progress of the request. We determined that by taking maximum advantage of existing technologies and software, we could meet (and hopefully exceed) their requirements.

    We selected ILLiad as our interlibrary loan management system because it provided all of those requirements and more. ILLiad is able to take articles received via Ariel and deliver them to the web, allowing us true desk-top delivery for the first time through ILL. It also provided library staff with the added benefit of facilitating workload leveling across three ILL offices since service users didn?t know or wouldn?t care who worked on their requests, just so long as it was done quickly.

    Another system we implemented to meet these same needs was PALCI's URSA software for patron-initiated circulation. This particular system allows people to search the catalogs of participating libraries and place requests for books quickly and directly. Supported by a state-wide delivery service, it provides excellent turnaround time. URSA also offers information to users about the status of their request. A link in our library catalog (Cameo) alerts users to possiblities beyond the catalog -- ILLiad and PALCI -- and helps users select which system they should choose based on their needs. [Contact: Joan Stein, joan@andrew.cmu.edu]

    Posner Collection Digitization - Forthcoming
    A generous gift from Helen and Henry Posner Jr. in honor of Henry Posner Sr. and his wife Ida M. Posner has made possible the digitization of the Posner Memorial Collection. The collection of six hundred and twenty-two titles includes landmark titles of the history of western science, beautifully-produced books on decorative arts, and fine sets of literature. These rare and scholarly items will be available in their entirety as they are scanned via the web beginning in late spring, 2002. Examples of volumes of particular note in the collection include works by Copernicus, Kepler and a Third Folio of Shakespeare. [Contact: Bella Gerlich, bg2r@andrew.cmu.edu]

    Scanning Services
    Carnegie Mellon University Libraries provide public scanning capabilities at all of its reference locations. This service enables students, faculty and staff to create, save and retrieve images files using library materials during the hours of operation at each facility. In addition, a pay-per-print color laser printer was installed in the Arts Reference area to accommodate a growing demand for such a service. [Contact: Bella Gerlich, bg2r@andrew.cmu.edu]

    Smart Web Exhibits
    Under a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Carnegie Mellon University Libraries, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon are working to mitigate problems caused by physical space constraints and provide more effective outreach to the public. "Smart Web Exhibits" are designed to deliver information online, on target and on time to a diverse user community. Two exhibits will be developed with the grant, based on signature collections in Carnegie Mellon University Archives and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

    To date, the library's exhibit has been completed. Mind Models: Artificial Intelligence Discovery At Carnegie Mellon enables users to search photographs, correspondence, lecture notes, and published and unpublished papers of two early innovators in computer science, Herbert Simon and Allen Newell. The digitization of archival material to support the museum's exhibit has also been finished, and the archive is available online (Diplodocus and Douglass Archives).

    Sound Effects (Planning Phase)
    As part of its commitment to provide its patrons with digital audio on the Web, The University Libraries are planning to convert its collection of the BBC Sound Effects Library into audio web files. Since this collection is copyright-free, these files will not be streamed, but will be downloadable to Carnegie Mellon affiliates. As part of this project, permission will need to be obtained from Films for the Humanities & Sciences, the publisher of the BBC Sound Effects Library. Films for the Humanities & Sciences will also provide a text file containing descriptions of the sound files at no charge.

    The model being used is housed at the Digital Media Center at the University of Virginia. UVA has mounted the entire BBC Sound Effects Library as part of its digital sound collection (http://www.lib.virginia.edu/clemons/RMC/sounds.html). This audio collection may be searched by anyone. Listening and downloading is limited to UVA affiliates.

    In addition to the BBC Sound Effects, the University Libraries will also endeavor to digitize the Network Sound Effects sound recordings on CD. Preliminary discussions with the publisher to gain permission to mount downloadable sound files on the web for Carnegie Mellon users have been favorable, and will be pursued in earnest in 2002. [Contact: Bella Gerlich, bg2r@andrew.cmu.edu]

    Swiss Poster Collection
    Established in 1985 by Ruedi Ruegg, Swiss graphic designer, and Carnegie Mellon School of Design Professor Daniel Boyarski, The Swiss Poster Collection is a critical selection of more than 300 works representing the Swiss Posters of the Year competition and other Swiss posters from 1971 to the present. The digitization of the posters and the creation and maintenance of the website and electronic database is an example of a successful continuing collaboration effort between the School of Design and the University Libraries. This website has received international attention and has been noted in the design journal Print.

    B. Services

    Ask A Librarian -- Chat Reference Service
    Carnegie Mellon University Libraries began its chat reference service in October of 2000. The Libraries utilize commercial off-the-shelf software called LivePerson.Service evaluation features of LivePerson provide interesting data for analysis. Summary statistics of the service, the transcript of an actual chat session, and the cumulative results of post chat surveys (filled out by chat patrons on a voluntary basis) were presented by two Carnegie Mellon librarians as a poster session at the annual American Library Association Conference in June 2001.

    MetaScan - Metadata capture software
    The MetaScan software is a data entry tool which allows scanning operators to easily and reliably enter metadata about the objects they are scanning. MetaScan provides the ability to search end extract information from a library catalog for the object being scanned, thus making the metadata entry easier and less error-prone. All information is stored in the industry-standard XML file format. [Contact: Chris Kellen, ck05@andrew.cmu.edu]

    Staff Information Systems (current and planned)
    The University Libraries have developed resources for librarians and staff to submit requests and track information on a variety of topics. For example, Carnegie Mellon University Libraries' Technology Department has created and maintains a suite of databases to monitor equipment, journal subscriptions, and requests for travel reimbursement, capital purchases, and work to solve problems with hardware and software. Analysis of data from the work request database has led to the provision of training for IT staff, improved distribution of the workload among IT staff, and the development of procedural documentation and a "workplace knowledge and skills" competency for all staff.

    Library statistics are currently managed in a series of disconnected spreadsheets that makes it difficult to generate trend lines or perform cross correlations of the data. A task force has been charged with conducting an assessment of our data gathering practices and developing a Management Information System (MIS). The aims of the new MIS are to simplify data compilation, analysis, and presentation, and to facilitate use of the data in decision-making and strategic planning. The initial assessment has been completed. The next steps are to decide which data to continue gathering or to begin gathering for strategic purposes, which data must be cross-correlated in the new MIS, and how the data are to be entered, analyzed, and presented. A requirements specification will be created based on the outcome of these steps, which will then be turned into a design specification for the new MIS. [Contact: Denise Troll Covey, troll@andrew.cmu.edu]

    • Denise A. Troll and Melanie D. Myers. "Providing Technology Support: The Never-Ending Story of Today's Library," Library Computing 19 (1/2), 2000: pp. 105-117.

    II. Projects and programs

    A. Projects

    Automated Reference Assistant (ARA)
    Carnegie Mellon usage statistics indicate that the majority of online catalog and database use occurs by remote access, that is, from outside library facilities. A drawback of remote access is that users do not have traditional reference librarians at their sides to help guide them to relevant and reliable material. The effect is that users often become confused and overwhelmed when searching by remote access. The goal of the Automated Reference Assistant Project is to develop software that mimics the reference interview process and help guide remote users to relevant high-quality information online.

    Copyright Permissions Project
    In July 1999 the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries began a study to determine the feasibility of acquiring permission to digitize copyrighted material and make it available free-to-read via the Internet. The goal of the study was to determine a realistic estimation of time, complexity, and issues related to acquiring permission for full-text digitization of entire works in the collection. Using a random sample of 337 various materials from the Libraries? collection, a database was created that included bibliographic information along with other descriptive and process data. From the original sample, 278 letters requesting permission for full-text digitization and free-to-read access over the Internet were sent and tracked.

    The results of the study indicated that only about half of the requests resulted in a Yes or No response. And only 22% of the requests resulted in permission to digitize and provide access to the materials. Other outcome data indicated that nearly one-third of holders who received a request letter failed to respond, though over 60% received follow-up letters; addresses were never found for about 11% of the copyright holders despite multiple efforts; and about 3% of the records were too complicated to pursue. As a result of the study a process has been defined, a database of publishers has been developed, and procedures have been established that will be useful in future projects.

    Web Site Redesign Work (In Progress)
    The University Libraries conducted two projects that helped to provide data and support for redesigning the library web site: (1) The Libraries? Website User Survey (fall 2000) and (2) a semester-long collaboration with students in Carnegie Mellon's Human Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) in spring 2001. The survey was made available on the Libraries? web site for about one week in late fall. Nearly 500 respondents provided useful empirical data to support the redesign decisions. Recommendations based on this survey led to focusing efforts on improving navigation and reorganizing and re-labeling links. Also recommended was a greater emphasis on the reference and student services links and to online librarian assistance; and creating a simple, uncluttered, visually pleasing design. Results were reported by Carole George: Library Web User Survey: Designing Online Access.

    The redesign effort was further supported by the work of an interdisciplinary team of students from the HCI Institute working in collaboration with the library. Using an iterative system of design and an extensive series of user testing and think-aloud protocols the team designed the new prototype for the library web site. Their research findings were consistent with the findings of the Libraries? own web survey, providing strong support for the redesign issues. Their final prototype was used as the basis for the Libraries? own work on the new site. The comprehensive report provided by this talented team documents the semester's achievement: HCI Library Portal Project: Research Findings & Solutions Presentation.

    User Studies - Think Aloud Protocols for Mind Models Exhibit
    The Carnegie Mellon University Libraries in partnership with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a Smart Web Exhibit designed to deliver information to a diverse population in the form of online exhibits of archival collections. Funded by a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the exhibit highlights signature collections in Carnegie Mellon University. The Mind Models Exhibit: Artificial Intelligence Discovery At Carnegie Mellon, summarizes the achievements of Herbert A. Simon and Allen Newell.

    In order to determine the functionality, strengths, and weaknesses of the exhibit and to make recommendations for revisions, the Libraries conducted think-aloud protocols of the exhibit. Using a prototype of the exhibit, participants were asked to complete a set of tasks and to think aloud while performing the tasks. Thinking aloud provided a mental model of participant?s use of the prototype and allowed a better understanding of how the prototype functioned. The results of the study led to design recommendations in a number of areas related to usability including navigation, labeling, and also visual appeal. The full report will soon be available on the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries? web site.

    III. Specific digital library challenges

    Creating Digital Audio Reserves: The Challenges
    To meet user expectations, more and more academic libraries are delivering reserve sound recordings as digital audio files over the Web. Many library departments need to work together to make decisions affecting budget, workflow and patron needs, while keeping within legal guidelines for educational use of digitally delivered sound. Costs include person-hours, hardware, file storage space and software. The costs of librarian, technical and staff time make up the greatest expense, both initially and in the long run. A proposal and procedures need to be written, a user interface created, software and sound capturing methods chosen, vigorous authentication developed, and continuing file maintenance and patron technical support provided. The diverse library departments involved in such a project must be in regular communication to make sure everyone agrees on the terminology being used and each person knows what contribution he or she is expected to make. All technical decisions must address patron and library hardware limitations and varying speeds of off-campus Internet connections, while taking into account patron expectation of CD-quality sound delivery. [Contact: Bella Gerlich, bg2r@andrew.cmu.edu]

    Copyright Permissions Challenges
    The content and relevance of the digital library will be shaped by how well the library community can secure copyright permissions. Without being able to secure effectively and broadly copyright permissions for materials published after 1923, the ability to build a relevant and coherent digital library will be impeded. A variety of factors limit the library community in its pursuit of a digital future. Such factors include:

    • Identifying and locating copyright holders for text
    • Identifying and locating copyright holders for images and other materials when that copyright is different from the text copyright holder
    • Securing permissions with a minimum of constraints
    • Developing new schema or paradigm for permissions that would encourage copyright holders to digitize materials.

    Challenges of Collaboration
    As we undertake collaborative digital projects with colleagues in academia and the private sector, on campus and around the world, we have discovered that although we share a vision we also have many differences that need to be communicated and addressed along the way. Differences in approach, expectations, understanding and philosophy must be negotiated among disciplines, and between the public and private sectors. Differences in bandwidth, in the broadest sense -- including hardware, software, and the learning curve for people from various backgrounds who must understand and use new technologies -- is another constant that must be anticipated. Handing off projects from one group to another may result in discomfort, discontinuity and delay. Far from discouraging collaboration, dealing with the difficult issues of group work heightens awareness, encourages creativity and produces better, stronger projects.

    DOI (Persistent URLs)
    The challenge of creating persistent URLs to our digital items was met through the adoption the the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) standard. Through the use of DOI and the creation of software which allows for simple entry and maintainance of our DOI data, we have created a system which solves the persistent URL challenge.

    Challenges to Workflow and Workload
    In an environment where building the digital library is everyone's job, developing procedures and workflow for the digital library pose organizational, resource and social challenges. Efforts that center on essential workflow tasks alone may not thoroughly address organizational and social issues. Several means of addressing challenges to workflow and workload include the following.

    • Communicate the digital library vision effectively
    • Develop a mutual understanding of how individuals and departments contribute to the effort
    • Develop and flowchart work in an inclusive manner. Engaging staff responsible for the tasks in the process ensures better insight into the workflow and better workflow development.
    • Recognize that digital library work can and will disrupt what staff may consider core responsibilities.
    • Recognize that some core library activities are paramount to digital library tasks.
    • Thoughtfully consider and analyze workflow and processes.
    • Evaluate how staff are deployed and add or reassign staff as necessary.
    • Manage change with intention, care and training.

    IV. Digital Library "Publications," Policies, Working Papers, and Other Documents

    Gerlich, Bella, "Policy for Acquiring Slides/Digital Images" (working draft).

    George, Carole A., "Exploring the Feasibility of Seeking Copyright Permissions." Presented at the American Library Association Conference, San Francisco, CA, June 2001.

    George, Carole A., "Library Web User Survey: Designing Online Access." Presented at the 4th Northumbria International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries and Information Services, Pittsburgh, August 12-16, 2001.

    Linke, Erika, and Denise Troll, "Creating a Free-to-Read International Digital Library." Abstract about the Million Books Project. Submitted for presentation at the International Exhibition of Digital Info - Service & Technology (DIT), Beijing 2002.

    Marsteller, Matt, and Paul Neuhaus, "Chat Reference Experience at Carnegie Mellon University." Presented as a poster session at the American Library Association Conference, San Francisco, CA, June 2001.

    Michalek, Gabrielle V., Smart Web Exhibit: Delivering Enhanced Library and Museum Collections Online, On Target, and On Time Presented to the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) Fall 2001 Task Force Meeting, November 29, 2001. Michalek reports the goals and challenges of the IMLS project, and discusses results and what has been learned.

    Michalek, Gabrielle V., Million Book Universal Library Project: Manual for Metadata Capture, Digitization, Post Processing, and OCR. (Carnegie Mellon University Libraries) Manual is approximately 1.1 megabytes. This manual detail scanning procedures developed at Carnegie Mellon that will be used for the Million Book Project.

    Reddy, Raj and Gloriana St. Clair, The Million Book Project (project proposal) One-year, $500,000 proposal funded National Science Foundation will digitize the seminal books in every field, making them freely available on the Web to anyone at any time.

    Troll, Denise A., "Changes in Library Usage, Usability, and User Support." Presented at the 4th Northumbria International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries and Information Services, Pittsburgh, August 12-16, 2001.

    Troll, Denise A., "How and Why Are Libraries Changing?" White paper presented to the Digital Library Federation and the Council on Library and Information Resources, January 9, 2001. As DLF Distinguished Fellow and associate university librarian for library information technology, Troll initiated discussion exploring effective practices for digital library collections and services.

    Troll, Denise A., "How and Why Libraries Are Changing: What We Know and What We Need to Know," portal: Libraries and the Academy 2 (1), January 2002. Forthcoming at http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/pla/ Troll revised and updated her white paper for publication in portal.

    Troll, Denise A., "Libraries in Transition: Changing Our Culture, Keeping Our Values." Keynote address at the Charleston Preconference, "The Realities of Acquiring Electronic Collections: Conversations with Library Administrators about Priorities for Collection Development," on October 31, 2001.

    Troll, Denise A., "Methodological, Logistical, and Ethical Issues in Human Factors Research," The Charleston Advisor 3 (2). Available at http://www.charlestonco.com/features.cfm?id=77&type=np

    Troll, Denise A., "The Philosophy of Digital Libraries: Parsing the Issues, Making Tough Choices." Presented at the Computing and Philosophy (CAP) Conference, August 9-1l, 2001.

    Troll, Denise A. and Melanie D. Myers, "Providing Technology Support: The Never-Ending Story of Today's Library," Library Computing 19 (1/2), 2000: 105-117.

    Troll, Denise A., "Tell a Vision: 3 Vignettes." Troll concluded her one-year appointment as DLF Distinguished Fellow with this report to the Digital Libraries Federation (DLF) Forum in November 2001. The talk summarizes the results of her year-long study of assessment practices, issues, and trends among institutions in the DLF.

    Troll, Denise A., "Usage and Usability." Presented at the Library Research Round Table, which was convened as part of the American Library Association Conference, San Francisco, CA, June 2001.

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

    CLIR Issue Table of Contents
    Newsletter Index