Magazine article Online

Recommended Reading

Magazine article Online

Recommended Reading

Article excerpt

For this issue we look at a few books that define our progress into the digital age, covering the broad topics of digital libraries and organizing information. Then in cyberspace, we get inspiration by stories of folks on the Net, and learn how to get started in ecommerce ourselves.

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Digital Libraries

by William Y. Arms

ISBN: 0-262-01180-8

Published: 2000

Pages: 287pp.; hardcover

Price: $45.00

Available from: The MIT Press, 5 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142-1493; 800/356-0343; http://mitpress.mit.edu

If you have missed the last ten years of library development and want a quick way to catch up, this book provides a good overview of what has happened. It describes the original impetuses for digital library development, early initiatives by players within and outside the traditional library arena, and provides some details of ongoing research projects and current (a-year-old) digital library implementations.

I couldn't figure out who would best be served by this book. Some parts are extremely simplistic, such as how the Web works and the basics of HTML. Others get highly technical, such as descriptions of object models and software architectures. But I concluded that this is ultimately good, as broad cross-section of readers can use it to fill gaps in their knowledge.

The book is very practical and easy to read. Each chapter focuses on a particular concept or challenge of digital libraries, such as legal issues, archiving, metadata, etc. You can read just the chapter you want, and there are numerous "panels" detailing particular initiatives. A glossary is included to help those unfamiliar with the digital library lexicon. Strangely, the biggest omission is a lack of URLs for any of the multitude of digital libraries mentioned, or as references for further information. This seems crucial for such a time-sensitive topic-- and odd when the author acknowledges that his major source of input for the book was the internet.

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The Intellectual Foundation of Information Organization

by Elaine Svenonius

ISBN: 0-262-19433-3

Published: 2000

Pages: 255pp.; hardcover

Price: $37.00

Available from: The MIT Press, 5 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142-1493; 800/356-0343; http://mitpress.mit.edu

We are all involved in the organization of information, but how often do we stop and consider the underlying principles upon which our decisions are based? This book, as the title suggests, provides a foundation for our thinking and our current processes.

The author does an excellent job of presenting the information in a clear, readable style. The book is divided into two parts. The first part takes an analytical look at the pieces that form our basis for organizing information, focusing on definitions and descriptions of the building blocks. This includes defining information and bibliographic objects, and setting out the principles of bibliographic description and languages. The second part of the book goes into more specifics of the different languages used for bibliographic descriptions, covering cataloging, indexing, and specialized vocabulary and classification systems.

Although the author certainly attempted to make the book understandable to those outside the library profession, the examples are so rooted in the library world that an outsider would have great difficulty in extrapolating the material to his/her own environment. The issues that are brought up about the difficulties inherent in any organizational scheme are certainly universal, but not easily extracted for the novice. …

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