SAOUG Archive Fifth SA Online 1999 The Library at Your Desk Tony by monkey6


SAOUG Archive Fifth SA Online 1999 The Library at Your Desk Tony

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									SAOUG Archive Fifth SA Online 1999

The Library at Your Desk Tony Carrozza Information Systems Architect Hewlett-Packard Labs Research Library

Abstract There's no need to get out of your seat to visit the library. The library has arrived at your desktop! In January 1994, the HP Labs Research Library's web site consisted of little more than a static HTML version of its User Guide. It received 10,000 hits per month. By 1999, the Library's web site has become one of the largest in HP, receiving nearly 750,000 hits per month. Over 50 on-line information resources such as databases, newsletters, discussion groups and the combined holdings of 26 libraries throughout HP are now at the fingertips of every employee. Users of these resources have increased 1000% and work in over 360 entities HP-wide. In order to achieve such rapid and wide-spread growth, the Library's web site was built on an architecture that made it possible to scale the delivery of dynamic content to 125,000 employees world-wide. The site now serves as a portal to vital internal and external information resources. Searchable archives that contain the abstracts and PDF images of 2500+ technical reports are generated from the publishing process. Users maintain their own subscriptions to these resources. Usage tracking provides the basis for evaluating the usefulness of a service as well as the foundation for an automated internal billing process. In addition to brokering information services, the Library has played a visionary role in anticipating and meeting the information needs of its clientele by creating solutions where none previously existed. One example is CONNEX, a web-based system that enables employees to find each other based on attributes such as knowledge, affiliations, interests and education. Another example is a feature called My Library envisioned for the web site. My Library is a user-centric, user-customisable portal to information resources that also serves as a channel for delivering dynamic content to a user’s personalised site. This paper will provide an overview of: • • • HP Labs Research Library: its patrons and services Web site architecture that supports automated usage tracking and billing The future: eliminating the barriers

Chapter 1: Dawn of the Digital Library Hewlett-Packard (HP) is a $50 billion company with 125,000 employees working in 120 countries. HP is so large and diverse that if it produced a catalogue, it would contain over 36,000 products produced by over 104 divisions. Because it is a very decentralised company, its various divisions operate with a high degree of autonomy. HP has an impressive technical infrastructure. Nearly 14,000 servers located in 400 sites

world-wide are connected via the HP network. Each month, 41+ terabytes are transferred over lines with speeds of up to 45 Mbps. There are more computers within the company than people. Access to the Internet is ubiquitous. The HP Labs Research Library HP is served by a network of 30 libraries. The HP Labs Research Library (the "Library") serves the HP research community in many diverse product areas: computers, semiconductors, software, medical and other instruments, networking and printers to name a few. The Library provides access to patents, technical and business-related information. The Library also serves as the de facto HP corporate library and assumes a leadership role among the HP library network. The Vision In 1992, serving a company as large and diverse as HP posed many challenges for the Library, particularly before the advent of the World Wide Web. Services were difficult to provide on a large scale, especially to employees who were not located close to one of the libraries in the network. Libraries were not as visible or accessible as they might have been and many employees were not aware that such resources were available to them. The Library considers information to be an essential and strategic asset - the life-blood of any organisation. Employees should not have to perform their jobs without the information they need any more than they should be expected to function without desks or telephones. The Library believed that a universally available research tool was needed – a "digital library" that leveraged HP’s vast technical infrastructure with over 174,000 desk top and portable computers connected to the LAN. Why should anyone need to leave his or her office for the library when upon every employee’s desk sits one of the most sophisticated information appliances ever devised? The following describes some of the requirements the Library had for a digital library. Information must be widely accessible. The digital library must be available on every platform in use within the company giving all employees desktop access to the information they need when they need it. Some people prefer to perform their own research but lacked the appropriate research tools. Information must be portable. The ability to easily transport, transfer and manage information is particularly important in a highly collaborative environments such as HP Labs. Information in digital form makes it highly reusable. Easy-to-Use Interface. The user front-end must be sufficiently easy to use for inexperienced researchers, yet powerful and thorough enough to locate the right information. Cost Recovery. Information must be available in a secure manner that allows for fair payment to the provider. The Library would serve as a broker of information resources. Necessary mechanisms must be in place to ensure cost recovery. Heterogeneous Sources. Information sources may be in-house or external to HP and available through the same interface and subject to the same cost-recovery mechanisms. Alex Digital Library Project – c. 1992

The Alex Digital Library Project began in late 1992 as an adjunct to the HP Labs Research Library, which had no Information Technology (I.T.) staff of its own. The project, named after the famed Library of Alexandria, was chartered with developing the systems necessary to bring key information resources to employees’ desktops. The decision to build in-house was made because no viable alternative existed. The resources that comprise the Alex Digital Library included, but were not limited to, INSPEC, patents, and a table of contents service called the Electronic Table of Contents (EToC). The four-person project began prior to the advent of the World Wide Web, but took advantage of web technology before completing its mission in 1997. The Great Enabler In early 1993, the World Wide Web (WWW or web) began making ripples across HP. It gave everyone instant publishing capability and greatly simplified the task of developing, deploying and supporting enterprise-wide applications. The web provided the platform independence needed to deliver information and sophisticated applications to every desktop. The Library immediately saw the web’s potential and became the first library in HP to place its User Guide on-line. By January 1994, the Library received 10,000 hits per month to its web site – one of only a few sites on the rapidly growing HP Intranet. Birth of the Digital Library Services/Systems Team Apart from the Alex Project, which was specifically chartered, the Library had no Information Technology (I.T.) staff of its own to exploit the vast potential of the web. In 1995, the Library hired its first I.T. Engineer and web advocate to take on the following tasks: • • • • Develop the Library web site. Make existing content and services available worldwide via the WWW as well as develop and/or integrate compelling new applications. Develop the technical infrastructure needed to support world-wide access-ondemand for Library services. Manage SAGE, the on-line catalogue, and support the 26 libraries whose holdings are contained within the system. Integrate the services developed by the Alex Digital Library Project into the web site.

Soon afterward, a plan for a dedicated I.T. team was developed and six more technical staff were hired to accomplish this mission. Chapter 2: The Library at Your Desk The Digital Library Services/Systems (DLSS) Team has accomplished much in four, fastpaced years. The team has created and now manages one of the largest web sites within HP. The site receives about 750,000 hits per month from employees in over 360 divisions world-wide. Every HP employee has access to the Library via the web. Interactive web forms are provided for book/journal loan requests, research requests, patent requests, photocopy requests and purchase requests. This chapter highlights a few of the services offered on the Library web site. SAGE – the Online Catalogue The combined holdings of 26 Hewlett-Packard libraries are catalogued in SAGE. SAGE is an implementation of the Unicorn version 98.2 system by Sirsi Corporation. The catalogue contains over 107,000 items (58,000 titles) including internal and external web sites that have been validated by Library staff as reliable and credible. Internal

technical reports are also catalogued in SAGE. Employees throughout HP can search the catalogue via its web-based front-end provided by Sirsi’s WebCat. WebCat allows employees to search the holdings of any single library or all libraries simultaneously by these fields: • • • • • Key word(s) Title Author Subject Series

Users may perform more complex searches that involve any combination of criteria. Users may also browse the catalogue by call number. SAGE user records associate an employee with an HP library and facilitate the check-out process. Many libraries provide self check-out to their patrons. Patrons bring books to a check-out station in a library, enter their employee number, and scan the items with a bar code reader. One DLSS team member is dedicated to managing SAGE and supporting the network of HP libraries and their users who rely upon this resource. Electronic Information Services (EIS) Over 50 Electronic Information Services (EIS) have been integrated into the Library’s web site. EIS include databases and electronic newsletters from external vendors as well as those that have been developed in-house by the Library’s DLSS team. An example of an externally provided service is MicroPatent, from which employees have access to world-wide patent data. The Library offers 18 e-mail and web-based newsletters with searchable archives. Users of web-based EIS offered by the Library have increased 1000% since the first EIS was introduced in 1994. This section describes a few of the electronic information services. INSPEC/IEEE One of the Alex Project deliverables was web-based access to the INSPEC database. INSPEC indexes the world-wide literature in physics, electronics/electrical engineering, computers and control, and information technology. The database is maintained inhouse and contains 4.7 million articles from journals and conference proceedings on topics ranging from computers and electronics and electrical engineering to physics. New content is FTP’d monthly from the provider and automatically loaded into the database. Coverage is from 1980 to the present. Primary coverage is of journal articles and papers presented at conferences, although significant technical reports and dissertations are also included. The web front-end provides both field and full text searching. Examples of searchable fields include: • • • • • • • Title Author Journal ISSN / ISBN Date of Publication Publisher Conference Title

INSPEC is searched using Verity's Topic search engine. Results are displayed in order of relevance. HTML-formatted abstracts are returned with links to the articles’ full image.

Article images are stored in PDF format and are viewable with Adobe Acrobat Readerä Electronic Table of Contents (EToC)


EToC, another Alex Project deliverable, is a current awareness system that provides users with access to over 200,000 articles from over 7,000 scientific and technical publications. The system keeps a rolling12-week window of data. Each week, 10,000 – 22,000 new articles are received from the Institute of Scientific Information (ISI) and loaded into the EToC database. Users have a choice of e-mail or web interface. After registering to use EToC, users may subscribe to any journals of interest. The system automatically delivers new tables of contents to users via e-mail each time a new issue is published. Individual articles of interest may be ordered directly from the EToC which automatically sends the request to the Library for processing and document delivery. EToC also gives users subject profiling capability. This allows users to indicate their areas of interest in a "profile". New content is run by the profile and any matches are sent to the profile owner. CONNEX Samuel Johnson, the noted English author and lexicographer once said "Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it." One important source of information is the employee. CONNEX is a web-based resource that allows HP employees to find other employees anywhere in the world based on attributes such as knowledge, affiliations, education, interests. For example, an employee who speaks German, lives in Barcelona and has expertise in digital signal processing can be found in seconds. CONNEX is selfmaintaining. Employees submit profiles that characterise their knowledge. Automatic "nagging" notifies employees periodically via e-mail when their profiles need updating. Developed by the Library, it is the first Knowledge Management system of its kind used within HP. HP Labs Technical Reports The Library publishes all internally authored technical reports and archives them in a central repository. The Library’s technical reports web site contains the forms and information an author needs to write a technical report, obtain editorial assistance, and publish it in hard copy and on the web. Over 2500 technical reports have been published. Authors submit reports in postscript or PDF, usually via FTP, where they are automatically moved to the appropriate web archive. Reports submitted in postscript only are converted to PDF with Adobe Acrobat Distillerä . Reports are made available on the web in both postscript and PDF format. Once placed on the web, they are indexed so they can be retrieved through full text searches. Technical reports are catalogued in SAGE. Monthly bulletins that list newly published reports are automatically produced from SAGE and e-mailed to subscribers and published on the web. Chapter 3: Architecture The Library acts as a broker of critical information resources to the company as a whole, negotiating the best terms and enabling access. Services may be hosted locally or

remotely such as those provided by Lexis-Nexis and Dow Jones. The architecture is optimised to support three key business requirements: • • • Availability Scalability Cost Recovery

Availability is achieved through offering Library services via the web. Scalability is achieved through automating, enterprise-enabling and distributing processes such as using the web to offer users "self-service" functionality. Building upon a platform that maximises system reliability and minimises maintenance enhances both availability and scalability. Corporate-wide licenses for many online services are very expensive. The architecture must provide a means for cost recovery based on usage. Accurate usage data, therefore, must be maintained. Computing Environment The Library’s technical infrastructure is built upon industrial strength components for maximum performance and reliability. Support is provided for browsers running on both HP-UX and Windows NT platforms. The primary web server (arizona) is an HP9000 K-class server running HP-UX. It has 4 processors, 1 gigabyte RAM and 40 gigabytes disk space. The centralised database management system used is Sybase Adaptive Server Enterpriseä . Verity’s Topicä search engine gives users best-in-class search capability. Arizona hosts the bulk of the Library’s web site and key business systems such as Phoenix. A second server (escher) is dedicated to hosting SAGE. Escher is an HP9000 D390 running HP-UX. It is loaded with 2 processors, 1 gigabyte RAM and 18 gigabytes disk storage. Both arizona and escher run the Netscape Enterprise Server to handle http requests. Both servers have fast 100 megabit connections to the site backbone for maximum throughput. Near-line access to large volumes of data, such as INSPEC images, is provided by an HP SureStore 600fx Magneto Optical library. The SureStore has a storage capacity of 600 gigabytes with an average 6 second access time. A third server, an HP9000 series 700, manages the SureStore and handles requests for data from applications. Phoenix Phoenix is a system designed to meet the Library’s key business requirements by managing access to services and accounting for their usage. Phoenix allows the Library to scale its services world-wide and recover costs from those who use Library services. Phoenix provides the following functionality: • • • • • • Allows users to manage their own subscriptions to electronic information services Enforces access control policies Provides an easy-to-use front-end through which Library staff can administer services Tracks usage of Library services Supports automatic and ad-hoc report generation Keeps employee data current


Facilitates internal billing based on service usage

Phoenix provides this functionality in an automated fashion with minimum intervention by Library staff. Phoenix Database At the core of Phoenix is its database. The Phoenix database is the repository for: • • • • • Employee data which is regularly updated from the HP Human Resources database Service metadata such as pricing and availability Transactions performed by users Service subscription status for each user Service usage information

Middleware Remedy’s Action Request System (ARS) is a tool that enables rapid development of database applications through a drag-and-drop interface. The ARS User Tool provides Windows and Motif front-ends to the application. An API is available for extending functionality with code written in C. Perl and JavaScript is used for most of the CGI and reporting code. The sybperl module provides database connectivity and allows use of embedded SQL. Sybperl is available from Performance using traditional CGI has been good. Should it degrade under increasing load, performance can be easily and significantly improved by using an NSAPI product such as VelociGen from Binary Evolution. EIS Registration & Transaction Recording All billable services provided by the Library are recorded in Phoenix. Library services are of two types: • • Transaction-based services Subscription-based services

Transaction-based Services Transaction-based services are discrete, one-time, billable services such as document delivery, acquisition requests, the services of a research librarian or editor. For these types of services, an entry into Phoenix is made by Library staff through the ARS User Tool. A record is kept in the database for each transaction. The record identifies the employee who received service, what service was provided, date of service, and cost. Subscription-Based Services Subscription-based services, unlike one-time transactions, involve on-going usage. Examples of subscription-based services include electronic newsletters, alerting services, and other EIS such as databases and Table of Contents service. Users are required to register for most services before they are permitted to access them. This allows the Library to ensure compliance with licensing agreements and to charge for the service. The Desktop Services Center is a web page where users register for, cancel or inquire about services. Users may register for one or more services by providing their unique employee number and last name. A CGI Registration program on the Library’s web server ensures that a

user is a valid HP employee and by license agreement has a right to use the service. Billing information for services is pulled from the database and presented to users at the time of registration. If the user continues with the registration, a record is created in the Phoenix database. The record identifies the user by employee number, services requested, etc. Access to subscription based services is granted only after the user has successfully registered. The Desktop Services Center is also used to cancel services. When a user cancels, the Registration program handles the request, makes the appropriate entry in the database and discontinues the service. Access Control & Usage Tracking In order to track usage to support billing, the Library must control access to services. Users are permitted access to a service through the Library’s web site only after they’ve registered to use the service. If login IDs and passwords are used to gain access to a service, the Library requires that they remain hidden from users. This removes the burden from users of having to remember yet another login/password and allows the Library to control access to the service. There are two types of services provided by vendors: • • Services that provide common functionality, interfaces and information across all users (i.e. shared sessions) Services that allow individual users to tailor their sessions, set preferences and use personalised features such as alerts (i.e. individual sessions)

The access control mechanism used in both cases is similar. When a user attempts to access a service by clicking on a link on the Library’s web page, the Access module determines if a user has access rights by performing a quick database look-up using the employee number and service name. If the user has access to the service, the browser is redirected to the requested service in the following manner. The service’s URL, login ID and password are obtained from the database. The login ID and password are appended to the URL as a query string. For example: Location: http://serviceURL?ID=loginID&password=password The Access program uses the Location directive to transparently redirect the user to serviceURL. Once the request is received by the service, loginID and password are stripped from the URL by an application running on the vendor’s server. Users never see the login ID and password – they are shared corporate-wide but remain hidden. For individualised services, the method described above is used with one modification: a login ID that uniquely identifies the user is provided in place of or in addition to a shared HP account identifier. The user ID must, of course, be the same for an individual across all sessions. An HP employee number is considered information that is restricted for internal use only. Therefore, the employee number is encrypted to form an external identifier. A test for a well-formed external ID, along with the HP account ID and password, ensures the vendor that the request is valid. For example: Location: http://serviceURL?user=userID&accountID=loginID&password=password Finally, the Access module increments a count of sessions initiated by the user of the service. It is trivial to implement this type of access mechanism for resources that are entirely

controlled by the Library. To make this work for services provided by external vendors, however, requires their co-operation. Vendors must, of course, agree to implement their side of this solution. They were, at first, slow to respond to our needs. The web was a new medium for their industry and presented new challenges and issues. Vendors tended to offer authentication only by IP address. This did not allow the Library to track and control access and, therefore, recover costs. The Library decided not use vendors who were unwilling to implement this access mechanism. Because HP is a desirable client, most vendors have been willing to provide an interface that meets the Library’s needs. Reporting & Billing A separate module generates the reports required by management, Library staff, Finance and users. The ARS User Tool allows Library staff to quickly and easily generate reports and perform ad-hoc queries. Users may also obtain reports on services for which they’ve registered. Monthly, quarterly and year-end reports are automatically created and e-mailed to management. Specially formatted reports are automatically generated and loaded into the financial system for billing. EIS Administration Library staff has access through a protected web interface to a set of EIS administrative functions such as these: • • • • Enable or disable access to a service Enable or disable the online registration process – for example, when the underlying database is undergoing maintenance Conduct user surveys Email all registered users or previously registered users of one or more services. This is useful for notifying users of a change in service or asking them to complete a survey on the value of the service.

Some services, such as CONNEX, are administered entirely through a protected web interface. Well-designed administration features greatly reduce the amount of time and skill necessary to support the many services offered on the Library’s web site. When the database or one of the key processes is taken down, registered users are not blocked from accessing services. Instead, they are passed through automatically without authentication. The Library decided that the timeliness of information takes precedence over the Library’s need to control and track access. Library staff, through the ARS User Tool, can easily maintain information about services. Service metadata includes pricing, availability, login information and URL. Enterprise-Enabling Library services are enterprise-enabled through programmatic access to Corporate Human Resources (HR) databases. The HR database contains information on every HP employee including: • • • • • • • Employee number Name Phone number Fax number Email address Entity and Department billing code City, State/Province, Country

Access to enterprise data allows the Library to do more than simply authenticate users.

It allows the Library to provide ease-of-use features and personalised services. Users can be greeted by name upon accessing a web-based service. Users never need to be asked for their contact information, increasing usability for them and reliability for the Library by not having to rely upon user input. Employee data is kept current programmatically. Every query to the Phoenix database retrieves the most current employee data. This ensures that services continue for employees as they move around the company, that documents are delivered to the appropriate location and that charges go to the correct department. Correspondence with users of a particular service or distribution of electronic newsletters uses the most current email addresses of the intended recipients Several processes surround the Phoenix employee database. Employee data is loaded on a regular basis into Phoenix. The database is never taken down to load employee data. Instead, only new and changed records are processed. When someone leaves the company, a process automatically unregisters the person from any services to which he or she subscribed. After six months, records for former employees are deleted. SAGE, the Library’s catalogue, requires that user records be created for everyone who checks out material from the Library. In a company as large as HP, manually creating user records would involve an enormous amount of data entry and would be impossible to maintain. User records, therefore, are automatically generated from enterprise data and loaded into SAGE. New and changed records are reflected in SAGE as they are in incorporated into the Phoenix employee database. This ensures that changes to an employee’s status, location or contact information are automatically reflected in SAGE. Chapter 4: The Unbound Library The Library has played a visionary role in anticipating and meeting the information needs of its clientele by creating solutions where none previously existed. CONNEX is a good example of this. When the need to bring people together for greater synergy and effectiveness arose, the Library developed this unique web-based solution. Librarians at the Library have never been content to remain at their desks. Instead they bring their considerable expertise to HP project teams as consultants and liaisons. Librarians serve as valued contributing members throughout the entire project lifecycle. The Library envisions a service called My Library. In addition to the Research Library’s web site, My Library is a user-centric portal to key information resources as determined and selected by the user. It builds on dynamic Web technology to deliver dynamic, personally relevant content to each customer and provides a framework for easily collecting and managing resources that they find important through an individually customisable web interface. Users could create and maintain profiles that describe their information needs, select one or more resources to monitor, and indicate how they would like to receive information that matches their profile. My Library would provide more seamless access to a variety of services. Users specify what content they want to appear in their Library, as well as where and how it should appear. For example, users might indicate that they want to see a notice when accessing My Library whenever new services or technical reports become available. Users could decide to be notified via email of recent Library acquisitions that match their interests as stated in their profile. My Library is a step toward delivering the dynamic and individualised information users want, when they want it and where they want it. The HP Labs Research Library has indeed been successful in bringing the Library to the desktop. It is not enough, however, to bring the library to the desktop because people who require information are not always at their desks. The demand for pervasive access to information is underscored by the proliferation of information appliances, which are

expected to outsell desktop PCs in the United States by 2001 [1]. In contrast to the general purpose one-size-fits-all desktop computer, information appliances are small, simple devices designed to do one task very well. As appliances become more intelligent, the distinction blurs between appliances and computing devices. The ability to communicate with other intelligent devices will form a significant part of their value. Feed full colour documents into the HP Digital Sender and send them to email addresses, fax numbers, PC desktops, printers or other devices. CapShare, HP’s handheld scanner, makes it easy to scan articles anywhere and send them to a printer or through cyberspace to interested parties. No PC is required. The promise of convergence has been replaced with a new vision – divergence. Information Portability XML, which stands for Extensible Markup Language, was spearheaded by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and has recently become a formal specification. The W3C calls XML "a common syntax for expressing structure in data." XML is really a meta-language for describing markup languages. In other words, XML provides a facility to define tags and the structural relationships between them. For web developers, XML provides extensibility and the ability to tailor the display information to the device. Librarians tend to see it as a universal metadata format. Programmers will take advantage of the ability for XML to provide data interchange. XML will especially serve those who produce documents that need to appear across multiple media. By separating structure and content from presentation, an XML document can be written once to be displayed in a variety of ways: on a computer monitor, within a cellular-phone display, or translated into voice on a device for the blind. XML documents have longevity because they can work on any communications devices that might be developed. By separating structure and content from presentation, XML also makes large-scale information management possible in entirely new ways. XML holds the promise of becoming a standardised mechanism for the exchange of data as well as documents. For example, XML may become a way for different databases or library catalogues to exchange information across the Internet. Requiring providers to deliver XML-formatted information means that it can be processed, manipulated and reused more intelligently by applications down-stream. For example, data can be easily parsed and loaded into a database. With common XML vocabularies, searches can be more meaningful. XML will transform the web from a server of static documents to a shared application environment, a data interchange medium, and a window to continuously and dynamically integrated information. Information Accessibility through Intelligent Device Communication A number of technologies are becoming available that allow devices to simply "announce" their presence on a network and inter-operate with other devices already connected to the network. Three such offerings are from Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and Microsoft: • • • JetSend (Hewlett-Packard) Jini (Sun Microsystems) Universal Plug and Play (Microsoft)

Differences aside, these technologies enable a broad range of electronic devices to connect to a network to which they could announce their presence and capabilities. Other devices on the network could then communicate with them. For example, a printer could announce its colour capabilities, print resolution and speed. A scanner could then send a scanned image directly to the printer. A digital camera could send photos across the Internet or exchange them with another camera. Meeting

information could be captured on an enabled whiteboard. At the end of each meeting, the whiteboard would transmit its contents directly to a desktop PC, a network printer or any other enabled device specified by meeting attendees. Hewlett-Packard hasn't formally announced its system, but HP Labs is working on its vision of pervasive computing. Given HP's position in printing technology, the company is looking at how today's print and distribute model could be replaced by tomorrow's distribute and print model. For example, would it be feasible for a newspaper to be delivered electronically to your printer, rather than dropped off at your doorstep? No computer is necessary in these scenarios – in fact, things not normally thought of as computing devices such as cellular phones, televisions, stereos, digital cameras and even cars will become part of the network and share information. The type of device, its features, even the make and model are unimportant because each device is equipped with the technology that allows it to communicate directly and without user intervention with other devices. They do not require some form of intermediary -- such as a network server, device drivers or, more importantly, people -- to translate and process the information exchange. Each device knows its own capabilities and can communicate that information to other devices. Information providers could take advantage of this by formatting content to targeted appliances – for example one-line headings for a handheld device, more detail for devices with larger displays. Enabled devices will grab the right content and display it in the most appropriate way. It’s About Information The Library is not limited to providing solutions to the problems of yesterday. It is more than capable of providing solutions that support new ways of working, learning and communicating. Ample opportunity exists for integrating applications and repositories that were previously isolated. Technology is being introduced and integrated at a rate that seems at times to outpace our ability to imagine uses for it. Explosive demand for information has accompanied unprecedented connectivity to the Internet. These global trends suggest that there is no final chapter in store for the Library! The proliferation of content available on the web gives rise to another new and unwelcome trend known as information overload. One of the traditional skills long held by librarians is that of selection – knowing the best sources of information for the task at hand. The digital world is in desperate need of the electronic equivalent of the librarian in the form of better tools to select and filter information. People do not want information – they want the right information, all the right information and, usually, nothing more than the right information. Emerging technologies such as XML and intelligent devices will do more than bring the library to patrons - wherever they may be. They will better enable the delivery of content that is more pertinent to patrons. Personalised services such as My Library will deliver user-selected information extracted from the most reliable and credible sources. It is in helping others successfully leverage the vast resources and potential of the brave new electronic world that the future of the Library lies.

References [1] International Data Corp (IDC) Action Request System is a registered trademark of Remedy Corporation CapShare, HP-UX and JetSend are registered trademarks of Hewlett-Packard Company

Jini is a registered trademark of Sun Microsystems, Inc. Motif is a registered trademark of the Open Group, Inc. Windows and Window NT are registered trademarks of Microsoft

Southern African Online User Group Copyright © 2001 Update: November 2001

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