Ian Witten, Mark Apperley, David Bainbridge, Stefan Bodie, Sally Jo Cunningham, Matt Jones, Steve Jones
The migration of information from paper to electronic media promises to change the whole nature of research, and in particular the methods by which people locate information. The goal of the New Zealand Digital Library project is to explore the potential of internet-based digital libraries. Our vision is to develop systems that automatically impose structure on fundamentally anarchic, uncatalogued, distributed repositories of information, thereby providing information consumers with effective tools to locate what they need and peruse it conveniently and comfortably. As a geographically isolated but technologically advanced nation, New Zealand stands to gain markedly from effective deployment of information resources that are freely available on international computer networks.
We have developed an open source digital library system called Greenstone (nzdl.org) which is being used (amongst other things) to deliver humanitarian and related information in developing countries. The software makes it easy to produce collections on CD-ROM, which is a very practical format for areas with little Internet access; the same collections are also available, in precisely the same form, over the Web. The user interacts through any standard Web browser, and the software incorporates a Web server so taht if the system happens to be connected to an intranet (e.g. in a hospital or school) the information is automatically served to other machines on the network.
About a dozen CD-ROMs have been produced from various organisations, including NGOs and several UN agencies. We are working with UNESCO on the further development and distribution of the Greenstone digital library software; the UN FAO on the dissemination of agricultural information; the Humanities Library Project in Belgium on creating new information collections; the Humanities Library Project in Belgium on creating new information collections; and the Payson Center at Tulane University, USA, on equipping people in developing countries with the ability to create information collections on CD-ROM.
Our present research is aimed at developing network-based technology for creating collections and maintaining them automatically; assessing potential topic areas for public digital library collections; monitoring usage to study library users' needs; looking at novel interfaces for retrieval and browsing that cater to a wide spectrum of users; and developing methods for inferring bibliographic information from document files and using this information to enhance presentation and for bibliometric research.
Further information about this project can be found at: http://www.nzdl.org/cgi-bin/library.
Andrew Bull, Tsz Wan Chiu (Sarah), Alan Christiansen, Sharleen Deo, Chris Martin, Data McKay, Katherine McGowan, John McPherson, Brett Sheeran, John Thompson, Ying Ying Wen, Stuart Yeates