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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Janet A. Crum, MLS (Oregon Health and Science University)
Description: This book includes ten papers offering overviews of topics related to digital libraries.
Purpose: According to the editor, this book "intends to serve as an overview of selected directions, trends, possibilities, limitations, enhancements, design principles, and ongoing projects" for digital libraries. Given the impact of rapidly-changing technology on STM libraries, such an overview is quite useful, and this book fills an important need.
Audience: While the editor does not identify a specific audience, the papers would be most useful to librarians and computer staff building and maintaining digital libraries. Nearly all are written by practicing librarians or research programmers working on digital library projects. A solid grounding in library, network, database, and Web technology is necessary to fully digest some of the pieces.
Features: The first section, philosophies, addresses legal, economic, and other administrative issues, identification and selection of content for digital libraries, methods for performing usability testing and evaluation, and searching and navigation techniques. The technical and design section covers combining heterogeneous databases, XML, and user interface design, including object-oriented user interfaces,. A short section on example scenarios contains two papers on existing digital libraries. Of greatest value to librarians are the papers addressing computer science topics that typically are not well-covered in the library literature, such as usability testing and interface design. The paper on object-oriented interfaces is superb, making a technical topic understandable to a non-expert and explaining the value of object-oriented design without jargon or buzzwords.
Assessment: The papers in this book provide a good overview of digital library issues and technology, from the day-to-day to the cutting edge. In particular, they introduce librarians to several computer science topics that are a vital part of building digital libraries. This book is a worthwhile purchase for any organization or individual planning or implementing a digital library project.