User Tools

Site Tools


Managing Electronic Resources

The first chapter discussed subscription services and document delivery in the context of the core reference services supplied by the library. This chapter examines the role of the digital library in electronic collection building, and the use of tools such as federated search and single sign-on to hide the complexity of access to disparate underlying resources, and explores the growing importance of digital resources within the Parliamentary library collection. The increasing presence of digital resources entails growing complexity in the resources management by the library, including subscriptions, digital libraries/collections, digital news feeds, and digitisation of resources owned by the Parliament. This additional complexity can lead to requirements for a Federated search capability (integrating into a single portal the major information resources) and workflow management systems (to management the complex processes in electronic collection development) and single sign-on(to hide the complexity of access to multiple underlying database resources). Electronic resource management is becoming an increasingly important role for libraries. The types of documents include born digital documents, (including digital news feeds), documents for which the library has a responsibility to digitise and preserve and electronic subscriptions. For Parliamentary libraries, electronic resources typically include:

  1. News items and Press releases through electronic news feeds
  2. Electronic subscriptions to Journals and Electronic books
  3. Research services and document delivery items in electronic form
  4. Electronic databases, including consortia databases
  5. Digital libraries to manage assets of the Parliament itself

The increasing access to digital resources entails growing complexity in the resources management by the library, including digital libraries/collections, digital news feeds, digitisation of Parliamentary resources. This additional complexity can lead to requirements for a Federated search capability (integrating into a single portal the major information resources) and workflow management systems (to management the complex processes in electronic collection development) and single sign-on(to hide the complexity of access to multiple underlying database resources). The rapidity of technological development brings long-term difficulties in the management of intellectual and creative output in digital form. Libraries and museums have a key role in the preservation of analytical and creative endeavors over the long term. However, most libraries are ill equipped to undertake research into the preservation of new media artefact's and creations. Where the preservation of printed works is well understood, issues of obsolescence of new media technologies affect all aspects of the new media artefact's. As each new technological innovation introduces new methods of creative content delivery, our long-term horizons of archive planning appear to reduce. The widespread adoption of Information Technology as an integral part of the research process, and the speciation of software vehicles for content creation, mean that on the basis both of cost and volume of content creation the meagre budgets of most libraries simple are not sufficient to sustain the role of comprehensive collection builders. Digital library collection building has associated with it inherent risks of technological obsolescence. In addition to the systematic risks associated to critical information technology architecture, are the problems of software and hardware obsolescence. Issues of obsolescence are not inherent obstacles to the move to management of electronic resources – but they are issues that need to be addressed by the institution in the management of the disparate resources that constitute an electronic collection. Information systems inevitably go through a continuous series of transformations over time, as do digital objects stored in an information system.

Where the Parliamentary library is responsible for the management of assets created by the Parliament, the systematic management of these assets through the workflow and digital library systems is an important role for the library.

Electronic collection development

The resources involved in electronic collections are complex. They can include image libraries, subscriptions to digital news feeds, subscriptions to database services, e-books (electronic books), and internally created digital documents. Because of this complexity, a systematic digital collection development policy is recommended. This will help to effectively integrate the disparate digital resources into a unified view. Typically your intranet or web site will be the portal by which clients can discover these resources. The searching of resources may be further unified through a federated search approach.

The collection development process should entail a review of electronic collection requirements based on the information needs of members and staff. For parliamentary libraries, the typical focus of end user requirement is for access to Parliamentary archives, news and current affairs feeds and current awareness bulletins, dissemination of press releases and other member information, and access to born digital resources such as electronic books and e-journal resources. A survey of current and future requirements for electronic resource access will assist in categorising electronic collection requirements in two broad areas: digital library services (including digital archives) managed by the library, digital resources provided through subscription and document delivery. Library patrons can be informed about new material in both these areas through news and alerting services.

As discussed in the previous chapter, the library should undertake an asset audit to determine the needs/requirements for support of digitization for preservation of assets for preservation. On-demand digitization requirements to support reference services, document delivery and alerting services (e.g. full text disseminating of news items in relation to Parliament and its members) should also be reviewed. Both of these digitisation processes will feed through to the systems for digital library management.

Digital Library Systems

If the Parliamentary library has responsibility for archives, then the need to build a effective document management or digital library system will be imperative. The library can also use a good digital library framework to improve access to current and historical information of relevance to parliamentary members. Some parliaments, for instance, use digital libraries to store media releases by Members over time, and to store news stories related to members (refer to the NSW Parliament case study below). Finally, the Parliamentary library can play an important role in preserving the collective memory of the parliament, and the digital library can be used to support the digitisation of historical resources held by the library for purposes of historical preservation and ease of access. These archives can form an important information resources on the parliamentary website.

The selection of appropriate software for digital library management is a significant project for the library and will entail a software selection and implementation process similar to the implementation of other major core library services (refer to Evaluating Software in the first chapter). The selection process should begin with a requirements gathering process to determine the types of media and assets that the Parliamentary library will be responsible for. There are many solutions that can provide very effective management of full text and image documents. Management of video materials is more demanding - both in software and the data storage requirements. Broadly the classes of software that can address the requirements of storage and preservation of digital resources are:

  • File system management and indexing tools
  • Document management systems
  • Digital library systems
  • Digital asset management or Media management systems (for management of multimedia objects such as audio and video, and managing streaming services)

Interoperability and metadata

Consider your metadata requirements early and thoroughly. The long term inter-operability of your digital resources with other digital resources being developed in-country and regionally will be enhanced or impeded by the level and quality of the metadata you collect associated with your digital resources. The selection of a metadata framework should be undertaken with reference to existing projects nationally and regionally - with reference in particular to the national department responsible for archives and the National Library. The choice of metadata is significant for the long term interoperability of the resources in your digital collection.

There are two classes of metadata widely in use. The first is descriptive metadata standards having their origins in Bibliographic standards - such as Dublin Core. The second is semantic metadata standards such as RDF (Resource Description Framework). This is based on a traditional name/value pair of identifiers (title = 'The history of Parliaments'). RDF underpins many projects that are realising the possibilities of the Semantic Web for purposes of stronger metadata description of documents on the web (and in archives). A semantic metadata description goes beyond the name/value descriptive pair to describe metadata in a series of “statements” in a subject, object and predicate statement (the title of the book is 'The history of Parliaments'). Central to the concept of RDF is the ability to unify concepts across many resources in a meaningful way.

File systems approaches to the digital library

Useful documents of historical value may already be in digital form and can be managed by the library. Many digital library systems grow from a simple file-system approach to collecting digital documents relevant to the members - with the library being the logical repository for these documents. While the collection of documents remains relatively small, this approach can be quite effective. The ILMS catalogue can potentially be used to collect metadata relating to these documents and provide searching for the documents held on the file store.

As the collection of digital document grows, such an approach will rapidly become unmanageable. The file system folders must be maintained and preserved and there is the risk that documents are removed from the file system without reference to the associated metadata. The library catalogue, being mainly focused on descriptive and subject cataloguing, does not always have sufficient metadata for ongoing records management of archival electronic resources.

Document management systems

The document management system (such as Microsoft's Sharepoint) can provide an intermediary approach to digital library management for a Parliamentary archive, where the focus is on managing largely internal-facing digital documents and where the focus is not on long term interoperability and data exchange.

Digital library systems

The digital library system is in many ways similar to the document management system, but extended to provide a public-facing web interface and an underlying archiving system. The digital library is therefore the typical choice for long term ongoing management of a digital archive for text-based digital resources (and often also for image libraries). Digital library software typically has integrated capabilities for metadata exchange with current standards. Even where in the early stages of electronic collection development interoperability may appear to be of limited relevance, such metadata can be used in many different ways. Web 2.0-based services can use metadata to feed through to alerting systems.

Digital asset management

If the library is responsible for capturing, preparing and distributing large collections of images, audio or video, it may be necessary to consider the use of digital asset management solutions. This class of software is deployed by broadcasting and media organisations to manage the workflow around ingestion, preparation, metadata annotation and retrieval of non-text digital assets.

Digital library systems: Workflow, Ingestion/Digitization (including for parliamentary documents) & Digital preservation

In the first chapter, it was apparent that many of the Library Management systems come with implicit or explicit workflow systems for managing the daily activities of the library.

Workflow management is also crucial to digital library operation. One of the challenges to institutional acceptance is the efficiency of the ingestion process. The more complex the workflow, the less likely the institutional buy-in on the system. The open design of of the digital library system in this area is important - focus on systems that have adaptable means for ingestion is important - for example to allow the addition of “plug-ins” adapted by institutions to suite their local preference for file uploads. Dspace for instance supports several paths for file uploads, including:

  • An integrated, highly structured and configurable web-based workflow system
  • A batch-oriented file upload system for bulk ingestion
  • Use of plug-ins or internally built workflows using API's (Application Programming Interfaces

The broad institutional adoption of a system is one of the factors that can be a factor in the breadth of support in functionality “around” the product that supports such functions.

The complexity of the digital library system adopted by a parliamentary library depends a great deal on the nature of the digital library requirements. Some systems focus on the archival role: the long term preservation and management of the digital resource. Some systems focus on the presentational role: the ease of discovery of the digital resource. Large volume digitisation projects (such as Parliamentary Archives) may require a focus on strong workflow systems.

Your digital library system will change over time. These changes may entail institutional name changes, website redesigns or changes to the website platform. The print form of a book or a journal has the virtue of a static nature: the content is the same for all readers for a given publication. Distributed access is simple. Personalisation, on the other hand, dispenses with any degree of finality of information delivery: the content delivery may be different for each individual. Without a fixed point of reference in which content can be thought to have reached a “final” form – that is, which is essentially dynamic, the issues of attempting to preserve content in its final generated form become problematic. One way of supporting the portability of electronic resources through website and organisational changes is the use of Digital Object Identifiers (DOI). These generally entail the registration of objects through a central referencing agency that provides a proxy-based reference to the current web page/resource location. Dspace, for instance, includes full integration with the public DOI service (Corporation for National Research Initiatives 2010). It also incorporates functionality to host and manage your own DOI handle service.

Case Study

Malackova, Eva and Sosna, Karel. The Joint Czech and Slovak Digital Parliamentary Library. IFLA Journal October 2007 vol. 33 no. 3 251-257

The award-winning common digital parliamentary library embracing the two parliaments of the Check and Slovak republics represents a valuable case study in the integration of digital resources the

Single sign-on

As the number of electronic resources managed by the library grows, so does the complexity of accessing these resources. Many subscription providers of electronic resources will have different sign-on methodologies to access their resources. In this context the library faces the challenge of providing simple access to underlying resources that are delivered in quite complex and different ways.

The simplest methodology for access, offered by many providers, is IP address authentication. This entails providing access to the underlying electronic resource based on the Internet address(es) of your library. This allows your library members to access these resources when used locally at the library. This approach requires no further authentication by the user. The solution has one principle weakness: remote users cannot access the service unless they gain access through a VPN (Virtual Private Network) style of access. This weakness is sometimes address by adding a further layer of software: the proxy server. The role of the proxy server is to locally authenticate users and then pass their web page requests through a local “proxy” service which fetches the web pages from the remote service on their behalf.

Another approach widely used by libraries is Single Sign-on. Users of your service authenticate only once (for instance through your library management system or through your intranet sign-on). This authentication automatically provides the necessary authentication to remote electronic databases. Two systems have gained acceptance in libraries:

  • Athens - a commercial single sign-on service that has a wide number of relationships with existing electronic database vendors
  • Shibboleth - an open source framework for developing your own single sign-on service.

The choice of service depends a great deal on your current infrastructure and capabilities. While Shibboleth is gaining acceptance it requires local development and integration work to enable. Athens authentication is often already integrated in existing library applications.

As with authentication, the growing number of electronic resources provided by the library can provide a discovery challenge for the library members. In addition to the ILMS catalogue, the library may have access to several Online databases of electronic full text content (such as journal subscriptions). The library may also have specific journal subscriptions separate from these consortia database subscriptions. This is often managed by a “databases” reference page on the local intranet or website. This requires the reference services and library clients to discriminate the most appropriate electronic resource for a given query. As the complexity of these resources grows, federated searching becomes an important factor in your library architecture.

Google itself has focused on providing a “single” search framework which is in fact a heterogeneous set of search engines, including:

  • Google Search
  • Google Scholar search
  • Google Maps search
  • Google “my library”

Commercial providers such as Serials Solutions provide software such as “Summon” which provides a single search platform across both the local catalogue and electronic subscription content.

Some open source library management systems can also provide a platform for federated searching. For instance, Koha provides search capabilities through the Zebra search engine. This engine can itself index different types of resources (such as your digital library content). This opens the possibility of making your catalogue not only a portal to the physical assets managed by your library but also a metadata hub to the wider electronic assets managed by the library.



Digital libraries & archives


Single Sign On

  • Shibboleth an open-source single sign-on software framework.
  • Athens: a commercial system which integrates with many current consortia subscription vendors such as EBSCO and Proquest
  • EzProxy proxy software widely used by libraries to provide access to underlying IP-address authenticated resources.
  • Active Directory - Microsoft's single-sign-on technology
  • LDAP - Lightweight Directory Access Protocol: a commonly used protocol for single-sign-on to systems - many software packages support LDAP to allow a single authentication on local systems.

Digital Library and Digital asset management

  • Dspace Dspace provides an integrated solution to the digital library. It has a built-in workflow for document ingestions. Its presentation layer is highly structured, allowing content to be divided into collections, sub-collections and communities. It is very widely used, internationally and as a result support exists. It has a strong support for language internationalisation. Dspace has 96 language packs.
  • EPrints EPrints, like Dspace, has a wide installation base, and is popular as a method for digital resource delivery. It has a smaller base of language internationalisation and is more focused on the presentation layer/user interface than Dspace. It is an integrated solution. EPrints has 19 language packs.
  • FEDORA - Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture Fedora provides a systematic tool for management of digital archives. As such it is not an integrated digital library solution such as E-prints or Dspace, but provides the archival base for a digital library system. It can therefore serve a role as the core component of a Digital Asset Management system, Digital Library system or archive for a Content Management system. Dspace and Fedora have announced a project to work together on an approach that allows a Dspace front-end to a Fedora archive.
  • Greenstone Greenstone was developed by the New Zealand Digital Library Project at the University of Waikato and has been supported by UNESCO. It has a strong base of implementation in Non-Governmental organisations and has four core language packs: English, French, Spanish and Russian.
  • KETE Kete is a further contribution of the Horowhenua Library Trust and Katipo Communications Ltd. funded to the open source community. Like Koha, it has a good presentation layer and is more focused on the user interface than the underlying archival management of the digital resources. Kete has 21 language packs.
  • KNOWLEDGE TREE Knowledge Tree is a document management system that uses the Amazon S3/Cloudfront to store data.
  • |Activae - a robust and scalable Spanish-language digital asset management system. Activae is an open source product of Cenatic. It is Python based DAM (like, Notre DAM and some proprietary DAM solutions such as AssetBank).It includes a transcoding server. Like Dspace it has a strong built-in workflow and is Dublin Core-based.
  • |EnteMedia EnterMedia is an integrated digital asset management system with some capability is for transformation and extraction of embedded metadata, written in Java with an XML metadata framework (rather than a database back end).
  • |TRIM One of the earliest and best known commercial enterprise Records Management systems, supported by Hewlett Packard.

Aggregate Electronic Resource Providers

  • Zebra “Zebra is a high-performance, general-purpose structured text indexing and retrieval engine. It reads structured records in a variety of input formats (e.g.. email, XML, MARC) and allows access to them through exact boolean search expressions and relevance-ranked free-text queries.”
  • Summon Summon is designed to provide access to the entirety of a library's collection, be it journal articles, books, or media clippings, through a single search that provides relevancy-ranked lists of results. This is a product from the Proquest family and is integrated tightly with their databases.
  • EBSCO Discovery Service Another all-in-one package, integrated with EBSCOHost's large number of databases.
  • Google As it creates more specialized features, like Google Scholar, Google Maps and customized Google indexes Google slowly takes over more of the market.

Case Study

References and Resources

Bülow, Anna E and Jesse Ahmon. Preparing Collections for Digitization. London: Facet, 2011. ISBN: 978-1-85604-711-1

Export page to Open Document format

You could leave a comment if you were logged in.
digital.txt · Last modified: 2011/09/04 15:20 (external edit)