Libraries in the Digital Age 2008: In Search of Knowledge

Article excerpt

REPORT FROM THE FIELD

'The web is introducing implications more revolutionary than those produced by the invention of the printing press ... which did not structurally alter the models for expressing ideas ... nor significantly modify the relationship between authors and readers," according to Paolo Galluzzi of the Istituto e Museo Nazionale di Storia della Scienza in Florence, Italy. His keynote speech, titled Galileo's Blog: The Digital Library as a Repository of Knowledge kicked off the ninth Libraries in the Digital Age (LIDA) in Dubrovnik and Mljet, Croatia, from June 2 to 6. "Significantly," said Galluzzi, "we witness today a transition from taxonomy [centralized hierarchical order] to folksonomy [orientations of users who interact with the materials consulted]."

Galluzzi traced the evolution of museums, which resulted in the fragmentation of documentation and cultural heritage not only by discipline but also by objects. He says the development of a virtual museum (http://brunelleschi.imss.fi.it) using web and digital library technology overcomes typical exhibit fragmentation and allows users to explore an entire collection.

The conference hosted 145 participants (including 37 students) from 20 countries.

The conference covered the theme of Education and Training in Digital Libraries and Reference in Digital Environments. LIDAs goal, as stated by Tefko Saracevic in his introductory remarks, was to address the changing environment for libraries and information systems and services in the digital age with an emphasis on examining contemporary problems, advances, and solutions. This is required because constant changes in the digital world require a constant update of professional knowledge and competencies, according to Saracevic.

Reference in Digital Environments

The impact, research, and trends of digital libraries on reference around the world were the highlights in the first half of the conference. Gregory R. Crane, professor of classics at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., stated in Cyberinfrastructure to Transcend Language and Open up Cultures that digital libraries now enable "digital classicists" to conduct research that was previously impossible, such as identifying core data about Greco-Roman antiquity in Arabic and Chinese.

Ong Eng Chuan and Tang Puay Eng, both of the National Library Singapore, described two initiatives in digital reference-reference delivery service and network of specialists-in Collaborative Reference Interfaces to Harness Wisdom of the Masses. Reference delivery service is a template used to respond to queries as a webpage, and network of specialists broadcasts a query to participating reference specialists with consolidated responses being sent by email or mobile phone.

Caleb Tucker-Raymond of the Multnomah County Library in Portland, Ore., presented Models for Using Digital Reference Transcripts to Create Digital Reference Tools. Tucker-Raymond analyzed patron use of L-net, an online chat and email reference service provided by Oregon's libraries, for usage and effectiveness, finding that users' favorite tool was live chat.

Jacqueline Solis, Pam Sessoms, Kim Vassiliadis, and Lisa Norberg, all of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, discussed the research and development of the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN) joint union catalog in Digital Reference in a Next Generation Union Catalog. They said prototype interfaces were designed using chat sessions with students.

A 5-year study conducted from 2001 to 2006 of upper-class undergraduate students' use of web resources by Myoung C. Wilson, Richard W Wilson, and Stacy M. Smulowitz, all of Rutgers University, revealed that although books are still the most frequently consulted source, there has been a steady rise in the use of web sources. Their findings also suggest there is a shift from .com to .org sources for research.

OCLC QuestionPoint

Several papers discussed the OCLC QuestionPoint as an evolving online digital reference tool. …