Exploring the Successes and Failures of UIUC Digital Libraries

Article excerpt

The 35th Annual Clinic of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) was held in late March at the University of Illinois at Urbana--Champaign (UIUC). Its topic was "Successes and Failures of the UIUC Digital Libraries Initiative." The DLI, which began in 1994 under the sponsorship of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), consists of six awards to university-led consortia for digital library research. It is slated to end this fall.

Stephen Griffin, program director of the of the Digital Library Initiative for NSF, keynoted the one-and-a-half day institute with a presentation on the history of the Digital Library Initiative--which he called DLI-1. When DLI-1 was being conceived, Griffin explained, agency planners did not take into account the explosive growth of digital content and usage associated with the World Wide Web, and the broad appeal of easily accessible information to the population-at-large (beyond those involved in scientific pursuits). As DLI-1 unfolded, agency program officials began to believe that it was constrained by its focus on technologies and scientific applications.

He then spoke about the recently announced Digital Libraries Initiative--Phase 2, which will begin this year and will be sponsored by the NSF, DARPA, NASA, The National Library of Medicine, the Library of Congress, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. From $8 to $10 million will be awarded to academic and nonprofit institutions every year for 4 or 5 years. DLI-2 awards will be made for a full range of activities related to digital libraries: research, testbeds, applications, and planning activities. (The first round of proposals is due July 1 5th. Check out http://www.nsf.govlpubs/1998/nsf9863/nsf9863.htm.)

Griffin asserted that the DLI-1 projects brought out the interrelationships of information and information management across a wide variety of topics, and, in so doing, made a clear case for the critical importance of interdisciplinary basic research. They also demonstrated that more interaction between technologists and librarians is needed, and that additional digital library initiatives must be done in an international framework to be successful.

A Full Day of Technology Talk

The next morning, Ed Fox gave a presentation on the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations Project (NDLTD), or "Dissertation Project" for short, that is being implemented at Virginia Tech. …