Digital Library Group

Mark Apperley, David Bainbridge, Sally Jo Cunningham, Annika Hinze, Te Taka Keegan, David Nichols, Nic Vanderschantz, Ian Witten

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.

We have developed an open source digital library system called Greenstone which is widely used in many countries all over the world and has also been adopted to deliver humanitarian information in developing countries. The software makes it easy to produce collections on CD-ROM, which is a 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 that if the system happens to be connected to an intranet (eg in a hospital or school) the information is automatically served to other machines on the network. Many Greenstone CD-ROMs have been produced from various organisations, including NGOs and several UN agencies. UNESCO has adopted Greenstone and works with us to distribute it widely throughout the developing world. We collaborate with the UN FAO on the dissemination of agricultural information; the Humanities Library Project in Belgium on creating new information collections; and the Koha Foundation, USA, on equipping people in developing countries with the ability to create and distribute their own information collections.

Our present research is aimed at re-engineering Greenstone to take account of emerging XML-based standards; extending it into a full content management system; looking at novel interfaces for retrieval and browsing that cater to a wide spectrum of users; monitoring usage to study library users' needs; and developing methods for inferring bibliographic information from document files and using this information to enhance presentation and for bibliometric research.

Further details on the group can be found at: