Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Editorial Introduction to Issue 34: Cultivating Interoperability and Resource-Sharing

Philip Hunter introduces Ariadne issue 34.

Welcome to the December/January issue of Ariadne.

This issue has as its focus the practicalities of resource sharing - not only at a technical level, but also in terms of business models. In Sharing history of science and medicine gateway metadata using OAI-PMH, David Little outlines the resource sharing arrangements between the MedHist gateway and the Humbul hub, using the OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting, and some of the issues it has raised. It turns out that the OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting is an effective way of sharing metadata between gateway services, but does not solve all interoperability problems. These problems may have to be addressed by anyone using OAI-PMH.

We have a report on the meeting held at CERN, Geneva, in October 2002 The 2nd Workshop on the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) by William Nixon and Pauline Simpson, interestingly subtitled 'Gaining independence with e-prints archives and OAI'. Its focus was on the challenges in establishing OAI services rather than the technical issues of implementing the OAI (a theme also found in William's other contribution to this issue, on the DAEDALUS project at the University of Glasgow).

In Cultural Heritage Language Technologies: Building an Infrastructure for Collaborative Digital Libraries in the Humanities, Jeffrey Rydberg-Cox describes the work of the Cultural Heritage Language Technologies consortium, a research group funded by the European Commission Information Society Technologies programme and the United States National Science Foundation Digital Libraries Initiative. This consortium has three major goals: adaptation of discoveries from the fields of computational linguistics, information retrieval and visualisation for the benefit of students; the establishment of an international framework with open standards for the long-term preservation of data, metadata-sharing, and interoperability between affiliated digital libraries; and ultimately to lower the barriers to reading texts in the original languages.

Personalising the Digital Library: Michelle Perrott and Anne Ramsden provide a report on the Joint Open University - Universitat Oberta de Catalunya Seminar on Personalisation and Digital Libraries hosted at the Open University, October 2002. This seminar was aimed at librarians and technologists, focusing on user-centred models including recommender systems, collaborative filtering, roles-based personalisation, and middleware to support portals and personalisation.

Exploring Charging Models for Digital Cultural Heritage, by Simon Tanner and Marilyn Deegan, describes the results of a study to investigate some of the underlying financial and policy assumptions being made as we move into the realm of digital capture and delivery in the cultural heritage field. The report is based on 51 institutions surveyed (and 15 interviews) during 2002. The report was carried out by the Higher Education Digitisation Service (HEDS), on behalf of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Interestingly, the report concludes that the most powerful deciding factor for price was the perceived market value of the item (as defined by what similar organisations are charging) rather than the actual cost of creation and provision.

Exposing information resources for e-learning Steve Richardson and Andy Powell on Harvesting and searching IMS metadata using both the OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting, and the Z39.50 Protocol. The article contains an overview of the IMS Digital Repositories Working Group (DRWG). The focus of the article is that, increasingly, information resources will need to be exposed for use in the context of online learning systems, and that the specifications used to deliver those systems will be those being developed by IMS. There are useful examples in the text.

DAEDALUS : Freeing Scholarly Communication at the University of Glasgow: William J. Nixon presents a brief overview of the DAEDALUS Open Archives Project at the University of Glasgow. This is a project funded under the FAIR Programme, which addresses two key problem areas - advocacy and service development. DAEDALUS has a project manager for each. According to their website, 'DAEDALUS' is also an acronym for their project...

Other items include: book reviews by John Paschoud, Bruce Royan and Ruth Martin. We also have a review of Creating websites for e-citizens - the Public Library Web Managers workshop, held in Bath in November 2002. Penny Garrod explains how this workshop addressed some of the issues surrounding the implementation of e-government. The UK government aims to provide online access to national and local government services by 2005, which means that these services must be interoperable. The e-GIF (the e-Government Interoperability Framework) incorporates standards and is mandated on all new systems that involve the exchange of information between government and citizens, and government and the business community. This involves more than 5 billion transactions per year.

We have our regular columns by Brian Kelly: this month, in his Web Focus column for this issue, Interfaces to Web Testing Tools, he looks at just that, and in particular at Bookmarklets - simple extensions to browsers which enhance functionality. Plus our usual complement of regular columns. Ariadne would like to extend grateful thanks to Shirley Keane, who put together the Newsline column.

Suggestions for articles for issues 35 and 36 are now being considered. Article proposals and books for review should be sent to: ariadne@ukoln.ac.uk.

Enjoy the issue.

Philip Hunter
Ariadne Editor