Since January, the FLICC Consortial Purchasing Task Group has been working on a pilot program so that FEDLINK member libraries can band together to order scientific, technical, and medical (STM) journals at a discounted rate.
At a March 18 meeting, Taissa Kusma of Academic Press and Michael J. Spinella of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) spoke to the group about their organizations' electronic publications programs. After the presentations, the task group decided to explore a consortial agreement with Academic Press. The group agreed that Science Online was better suited to small institutional site licenses and individual subscriptions.
Academic Press: IDEAL
Kusma discussed the International Digital Electronic Access Library (IDEAL), the Academic Press electronic journal collection (www.idealibrary.com). IDEAL contains all 175 Academic Press journals and offers abstracts and tables of content in HTML and full-text articles in Adobe Acrobat format. Anyone with Internet access can freely browse and search the journal tables of contents and abstracts on IDEAL. Authorized users within licensed consortia can access the complete articles.
APPEAL (the license) is a three-year license designed for large consortia. It provides access at all licensed consortium sites to all the journals formerly held in print anywhere within the consortium. Small libraries within the consortium benefit by being able to access many more journals than they could individually.
Permitted uses include viewing, searching, printing, and downloading articles without restriction for personal use, course resources, and internal company business purposes. APPEAL permits copying and transmission of articles from IDEAL within the consortium, but prohibits all copying and transmission of the electronic files outside the consortium. A summary of the license is available on the Academic Press site (http://www.apnet.com/www/ap/genlay.htm). Academic Press has agreed to run a list of FEDLINK member subscriptions and to approach the task group with a proposal for a consortium subscription agreement.
AAAS: Science Online
Science Online is published with the assistance of Stanford University's High Wire Press (http://highwire.stanford.edu/), an electronic publications unit managed by Stanford University Libraries. Spinella explained that the current fee for library access to Science Online is $25.00 per year for each workstation, with a minimum order of 10 workstations if the library does not have a print Science subscription. All workstations must be located in the library. More subscription information is available on the Science magazine site (http://www.sciencemag.org/subscriptions/libinfo.shtml).
AAAS does not currently offer institutional site licenses for electronic access to Science. Because much of the magazine's subscriber (and advertising) base is comprised of individual AAAS members, Spinella said the association does not want to grant free access to all researchers at large organizations for fear individuals will drop their memberships. Currently, individual members can gain access to Science Online for an additional $12 per year.
AAAS has been experimenting with charging institutions for access based on the estimated number of FTE's and limited by location or IP address. FEDLINK Network Program Specialist Meg Williams suggested that a small federal library could approach AAAS in order to set up a pilot program for an institutional site license.
Science is available from aggregators of electronic journals, but Spinella explained that the issues tend to be 14 to 40 days behind. He noted that Science is working with JSTOR (http://www.jstor.org/), an electronic journal archiving organization funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to digitize legacy issues back to 1880.
The task group will meet again in April to hear from a serials agent about consortial purchasing arrangements and to discuss a draft of a model licensing agreement for electronic publications that FEDLINK has been developing in conjunction with the Library of Congress Office of General Counsel. Watch further issues of FEDLINK Technical Notes for updates on the model agreement and other consortial purchasing efforts.
Adobe Acrobat Offers Graphics-Rich Alternative to HTML
By Jessica Clark
As Web-savvy taxpayers discovered this year, Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) is a cross-platform document delivery solution that some government agencies have adopted to provide online access to forms and publications. Federal librarians and information center staff need to know how to open and manipulate PDF files (also known as "PDFs"), and may want to purchase PDF creation software for producing documentation and multimedia publications related to library collections.
Adobe Systems, known for its popular graphics and desktop publishing software, has built a suite of interlocking applications to position PDF as the premiere format for Web, multimedia, and paper-based publishing. Unlike HTML documents, PDF files retain the look of their printed equivalents, print out cleanly (although not always perfectly), and cannot be easily altered. PDF files may include linked tables of contents or "bookmarks" which tie together the pages of a publication, linked indexing, hypertext links to resources on the Web, graphics, sounds, and audiovisual presentations.
PDFs may be viewed in Netscape or Internet Explorer with the assistance of the free PDF Reader (available at http://www.adobe.com/prodindex/acrobat/readstep.html), or opened through the reader from the desktop or a CD-ROM. Several programs create and manipulate PDF files:
Using Acrobat to Improve Publishing
This combination of programs is powerful, as it connects a variety of current publishing processes and software in a way that minimizes new investments for the user. Designers may use their current desktop publishing or word processing software to create publications, then distill PDFs and add links, indexes, and multimedia elements into them using Acrobat tools.
Most commercial and desktop printing equipment outputs "PostScript" documentsthat is, laser-quality documents formatted in a standardized language which was also invented by Adobe. Over the years, different software companies have slightly altered the PostScript format to fit their needs. The PDF distillation process standardizes various types of PostScript documents and incorporates font and image information, eliminating many of the production headaches that have been associated with desktop publishing. To coordinate PDF-based print jobs, Adobe offers publishers a workflow management software called PostScript Extreme.
PDF files can also speed up production time. The files serve as proofs during stages of publication editing; with Exchange, designers and editors can incorporate color-coded "notes" or annotations into the files and transmit their changes via e-mail. The PDF format also offers designers an easy bridge
between creating publications for print and creating Web or CD-ROM projects. Converting existing publications for electronic transmission by distilling the desktop publishing files into PDFs is significantly faster than converting the files into clean HTML.
Creating and Managing Document Archives
Through the Acrobat suite, Adobe hopes to position itself as a leader in document management systems. Product literature suggests that users can scan and batch their legacy paper documents using Capture and index and search them using Catalog. There are two drawbacks to this scheme: PDF files take up a fair amount of storage space, and the OCR text conversion in the Capture program is not accurate enough to guarantee that all of the text it produces will be searchable. Capture provides the user with both an image of the page and a translation of the text; document managers have to compare the two documents in order to spot translation mistakes. There are other document management systems on the market; Adobe's may win out yet because it has made PDFs easy to use and manipulate.
Putting PDFs on the Web
For Web use, the format provides mixed benefits. PDFs offer an attractive, clean, desktop-published look, are easy to generate, produce searchable text (unlike TIFF files of documents), and provide a convenient way to group and navigate between the sections of documents such as the chapters of a book or the lesson plans for a class. PDF files are, however, much larger than HTML fileslarge enough to dissuade some users from downloading them.
Despite Adobe's claims, PDFs do not always translate fonts perfectly. If the person who distills a file does not indicate that font information should be included, the PDF Reader program will translate text into a standard serif or sans serif font. This can lead to strange typographical configurations. Providing official documents in PDF format is also not a fail-safe security measureusers can edit PDF documents if they have Exchange on their systems. The person creating a PDF must specify that the file is to be protected in order to prevent changes. Finally, end users must download the Acrobat Reader to open the files, which can be a challenge for less technical users or those with limited storage space on their hard drives.
Transition to Interactive Forms
Adobe is still working out the bugs in the features it offers for creating online forms. The company recently issued an update to the Forms plug-in. Using Forms Author, creators can specify form fields; the data entered into these fields may then be exported into a database using the same CGI scripts that are currently being used in Web forms. End users must download a Forms Filler plug-in to view and complete online forms. If end users want to save the form along with the data they entered, however, they must have Acrobat Exchange installed on their hard drives.
Battle of the Format Titans
It may seem that Adobe created PDFs to compete with online publishing via HTML. The two types of formats share a number of features:
HTML and PDF do still offer different advantages. HTML documents load quickly, take up less storage space, are easy to edit, and may be parsed by text-only browsers. New XML standards will build on HTML by allowing document creators to incorporate customized tags which optimize documents for use in specialized databases (see the March 1998 issue of FEDLINK Technical Notes at http://www.loc.gov/flicc/tn/98/03/tn9803.html for more discussion on XML). PDF files, as noted above, can be conveniently formatted and generated using tools with which designers are already familiar. They work well for creating linked, printable publications and multimedia presentations. The most valuable uses for PDFs may relate to the transfer of publications between creators, coworkers, and printers.
It is also important to remember that even though PDFs are common and the Acrobat Reader is free, PDF is still a proprietary format developed by a for-profit corporation. HTML, on the other hand, is a standardized markup language which is supported and developed by an international coalition of information industry professionals, librarians, archivists, and content specialists. HTML is currently the lowest common denominator for transferring documents via the Web; it is therefore the safer format for providing information that must continue to be accessible to a wide range of users.
Putting PDFs to Work
At the very least, librarians and information center staff should download the Acrobat reader and familiarize themselves with opening and navigating through PDF files. They may then want to consider using PDF tools to create systems documentation, CD-ROMs, or Web presentations which contain scanned publications or materials from library collections, or electronic versions of common forms.
For examples of PDFs in action, see the Web sites of these federal agencies:
Part Twohttp://www.loc.gov/flicc/tn/98/02/tn9802.html. Afternoon presentations, discussed below, provided case studies of current state and federal metadata projects.
Barbara Poore, Communications Coordinator for the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), described the committee's efforts to encourage CSDGM projects. She explained that metadata performs three tasks in these projects: to allow organizations to maintain investment in data creation over time, to provide information to data catalogs and clearinghouses, and to provide information on how to use datasets on individual systems.
"Because we're trying to use metadata for these three purposes, it has become quite complex," said Poore. The complexity is increased by the radical differences between datasets. "We're looking for a way to encourage the people who own the information to describe that information...this depends on a distributed, participatory notion of cataloging, and this is really difficult to implement." The benefits, however, are palpableeach new metadata record added to the clearinghouse increases the value of the total collection of data.
"Does it work to have an executive order to do metadata?" Poore asked. She noted that few federal agencies produce metadata in the course of doing business, and that the order is regarded as an unfunded mandate. In the absence of strong external forces, a champion is needed in each agency to ensure that each creates metadata. Other incentives include project funding, professional advancement, and the opportunity for those who learn metadata to act as teachers within their agencies.
"Data management is something that people have traditionally swept under the rug. We're in it for the long haul; we know it's going to take a while," Poore said.
FGDC has offered state agencies and public-sector organizations funds to establish geographic data clearinghouses, develop related standards, implement educational programs to increase awareness, or build relationships among organizations to support digital geographic data. Poore said that this program has been extremely successful, with around 100 awards granted and nearly 1000 participants. Federal agencies are now eligible for the awards if they partner with a state or local agency.
She highlighted the efforts of the Montana State Library which won awards in both 1994 and 1996. The library has a collection of natural resources information; they implemented a clearinghouse node (the Montana Natural Resources Information System at http://nris.state.mt.us/gis/default.htm) which they have successfully used as a publicity tool for the university. The library has helped 19 other organizations to document around 290 datasets, while simultaneously working on outreach and updates to existing standards.
"I'm convinced that the wave of the future is distributing responsibility," said Poore.
Designing a Statistical Metadata Repository
Daniel W. Gillman, a mathematical statistician from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, discussed the creation of a distributed statistical metadata repository. "There is a very sharp distinction in the statistical world between statistical data and statistical metadata," Gillman explained. "Statistical metadata is descriptive information or documentation that facilitates data sharing and understanding over the lifetime of the data."
Metadata about datasets allows end users to identify, retrieve, or process data, and to compare data across surveys. The Census Bureau has modified the CSDGM to create appropriate elements. Statistical metadata may include:
The Census Bureau envisions a time when all datasets will have a full set of metadata. Although datasets will be maintained by different units, reference information about indexed datasets will be collected in a repository which keeps track the of relationship between studies. Gillman referred attendees to a prototype project, the Federal Electronic Research and Retrieval Extraction Tool (FERRET), a current research integration tool available on the Census Bureau Web site (http://ferret.bls.census.gov/cgi-bin/ferret). The agency is currently seeking funding for staff to maintain ongoing metadata creation, collection, and retrieval.
Gathering Biological Results
CSDGM is also the basis for the metadata elements used in the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII). Anne Frondorf, NBII Program Manager, U.S. Geological Survey, discussed the project's objectives.
The NBII links together and provides access to biological data and information that is maintained by a broad variety of government agencies, private organizations, natural history museums, libraries, and other sources. The system is designed to aid identification of biological data and information sources; provide easy access, retrieval, and integration of data; encourage the application of biological data and information to support resource management decisions; and prevent re-collection of biological data which is available from an existing source.
The CSDGM provides an appropriate metadata framework because data on such phenomena as habitat and migration patterns has a geospatial component. The NBII biological metadata standard functions as "a biological profile" of CSDGM. Additional metadata elements help researchers document biological data such as taxonomy. NBII staff members have also created "Metamaker," a tool which they hope will help researchers enter information about their studies.
"You really open this data up to a broad array of uses by making it available on the Internetmaybe uses that the people on the ground never thought of," Frondorf said.
Cross-Discipline Searching of Museum Collections
Although DC was developed to describe digital objects, museum and archive communities are testing DC elements to see if they can be applied to collection description. Tom Garnett, head of the Systems Office of Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL), Sherry Kelley, head of the Cataloging Department, SIL, and George Bowman, a systems analyst in the Office of Information Technology, SI, spoke about the Smithsonian Image Guide and Handling Test (SIGHT) project. This pilot program tested the semantics of cross-searching of collections-based data from multiple systems.
Garnett explained that a cross-disciplinary metadata standard would help create a system with which the "digital tourist" could locate objects in the collections. "In the past, there has been little effort to create cross-disciplinary cataloging systems because we are a feudal organization," said Garnett. "People care passionately about their particular discipline and peers. This is good for them and for the discipline, but not so good for the general public and researcher."
SIL staff members gathered records from three automated systems and loaded them into the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS), which has a keyword search engine, a Web interface, and support for a MARC-based library automation system. They then built an interface which offered search types corresponding to DC elements. The records they combined described coins, art objects, oral and video histories, and books.
The participants found it necessary to modify the Dublin Core Standard Element Definitions in order to describe physical objects. They added the PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION element and included DIMENSIONS and MATERIALS as TYPE subelements; used the RELATION element to include URLs of the online representations of the object; changed the name of the PUBLISHER element to PUBLISHER/REPOSITORY; and refined the SUBJECT sub-elements. They also added several fields to the official MARC crosswalk to take advantage of records already formatted in MARC. They found that the crosswalk was too bibliocentric for the description of physical objects, and that interpretations of the fields will need work before intelligible collections records can be created.
Metadata for the Intelligence Community
Mark Kelly, Information Management Specialist, Intelink Management Office, Information Management Directorate, discussed the creation of metadata for classified resources. Intelink is a collection of networks based on Internet technology that are used by intelligence agencies and military forces. In this system, metadata is being used to specify each document's level of classification.
Intelink system administrators have used the DC standards as a model for their metadata standard. Required Intelink metadata elements include:
Different elements, such as IL.country, IL.format, and others are required if relevant. The Intelink standard also provides optional elements, such as IL.summary. For more information, see the Guidelines for Intelink Metadata Version 1.0, at http://diicoe.disa.mil/coe/aog_twg/twg/mcstwg/INTELINK.HTM.
The day's presentations revealed that there is still much work to be done if federal metadata records are to be standardized. FLICC will continue to monitor the development of standards and offer workshops on this and related topics.
Join the Pentium and Windows95/NT Crowd!
FEDLINK wishes to remind libraries and information centers that it is very important to upgrade their workstations to Pentium class machines and Windows 95 or higher operating systems. All OCLC software now runs on Windows 95-based systems and these new versions require Pentium-based 32-bit processors. For example, the Cataloging MicroEnhancer for Windows requires Windows 95 or NT and Pentium class PC's.
Because of its need for a Pentium 32-bit processor, Cataloging MicroEnhancer will not work with old-style multidrop dedicated lines (also called synchronous lines) that were based on OCLC's proprietary telecommunications protocol developed in the late 1960's. It will, however, work with any other telecom method (dial, Internet, or dedicated TCP/IP).
OCLC will phase out the old multi-drop lines over the next three years. By January 1, 2001, all libraries should have made the transition to one of the other TCP/IP telecom methods. Although OCLC has no date to phase out asynchronous dial access, it remains the most expensive and least efficient way to communicate with OCLC.
The June issue of FEDLINK Technical Notes will offer more information on access options plus updates on any price changes for the OCLC fiscal year begins July 1, 1998.
FEDLINK is analyzing the new Cataloging MicroEnhancer's ability to save telecom charges for small- to medium-sized federal libraries that traditionally have not used the software. For example, in Cataloging MicroEnhancer editing and creating original records can be done offline, without telecom charges. Changes and new records then upload more rapidly in batch mode, possibly while staff work on other tasks at that same workstation. Future pricing options may make Cataloging MicroEnhancer an even more economical choice.
OCLC currently sells workstations and is now offering libraries a credit when they purchase their Pentium-class machines. Your agency may also have options for other Windows 95 or NT, Pentium-class workstations that may cost less and/or be configured to be compatible with agency networks, etc. Savings in telecommunications software amply justify government investment in this newer technology for libraries' use of OCLC.
OCLC Subsidizes Workstation Purchases Through June 30
OCLC will offer a credit of $750 on the purchase of each new Pentium-based OCLC workstation, providing an added incentive for libraries to upgrade their computer equipment and position themselves to take advantage of forecasted networking and software developments. The credits apply to the current M6300 model, and any subsequent workstations introduced by June 30, 1998. The workstations and the credit program are available in the United States only.
According to Gary Houk, vice president of OCLC Services, the Workstation Replacement Program will help libraries adapt to technology developments, including OCLC software applications that are now in development.
"We recently alerted our members (OCLC Newsletter, Nov/Dec 1996) to new networking and software options that will become available from OCLC in the next few years that will all need Pentium-based workstations running under Windows 95 or Windows NT," said Houk. "Through the 1998 Workstation Replacement Program, we want to help libraries upgrade their hardware now so they can avoid being marooned on what we have called the `Isle of Obsolescence.' Unfortunately, libraries that do not upgrade soon to Pentium-based workstations will not be able to use many of OCLC's computer-based services in just a few short years."
Already, libraries without Pentium-based workstations cannot take advantage of efficiencies offered by OCLC's software such as the Cataloging MicroEnhancer.
Workstation orders received through June 30, 1998 will receive a $750 credit on the new workstation purchase price. Installation, a $152 value, will be included at no charge. Libraries do not need to complete installation by June 30, 1998 to receive the $750 credit. This credit will apply toward the current workstation price of $2755, making the credited total $2005. For up-to-the-minute pricing, please contact Claudette Watson at OCLC (800-898-6252, ext. 6177) before releasing the purchase order. OCLC does accept government credit cards or the Computer Products Request Form.
The M6300 is available immediately and replaces the M6233 workstation. The new workstation is a 300MHz machine which uses a Pentium II processor. The unit that OCLC is offering to members is an upgraded version of the M6300 workstation that includes a total of 64MB of RAM and 4MB of video memory.
The complete configuration of the M6300 includes:
Workstations installed on the multi-drop lines will also include the special OCLC I/O Board. Effective immediately, the OCLC I/O board is no longer a standard offering on OCLC workstations. The OCLC I/O board will be installed on workstations only when a member requests that the machine be installed on the multidrop network at time of ordering. Please be sure to check the Compro form carefully to make sure that this data element is present on all orders. OCLC will not send out I/O boards to libraries that decide to move a workstation over to the multidrop network at a later time.
1998 FLICC Forum Highlights
Keynote speaker Morley Winograd, Senior Policy Advisor to Vice President Albert Gore, Jr. and director of the National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR), offered his vision of how reinvention initiatives will shape the federal future at the Fifteenth Annual FLICC Forum on Federal Information Policies.
The March 19th event, titled "Adapting to Reinvention: Getting Results in Government Publishing" focused on federal strategic planning in the information age. Joining Winograd were speakers from the executive branch, Congressional committees, and public policy institutes, who discussed legislative and agency responses to the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA).
Representatives from national and agency libraries spoke about successful information access initiatives and the key customer service role that these libraries play for the federal government. Afternoon sessions addressed proposed changes in the functions of the Government Printing Office (GPO) in light of challenges to U.S. Code Title 44 that governs its mission and services.
"We have tried to shift the thinking from the `review' of the last five years to actively trying to partner with all government agencies to reach the new NPR vision," said Winograd. He explained that their vision statement, "America@OurBest," places technology at the center of the effort to ensure that the government works better, costs less, and gets results that Americans care about.
"We hope to accomplish our fundamental goal of restoring the trust of the American people in their government," said Winograd. To that end, the NPR task force plans to:
Winograd noted the need for agencies to align reinvention efforts with the strategic planning processes mandated by GPRA. He explained that NPR will offer agencies a variety of tools to improve morale, efficiency and customer service, including cross-agency task forces, networks of experts, conferences and training events, Hammer awards, benchmarking studies, cross-cutting management reforms, reinvention laboratories, and public reporting of results. He praised the U.S. Postal Service and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their successful reinvention processes, and encouraged federal employees to visit their Web sites. The NPR's own Web site (http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/npr/), provides more information on the group's efforts.
"If federal libraries and information centers did not already exist, they would make a great reinvention initiative," said FLICC Executive Director Susan M. Tarr in her opening remarks. "Think of it: agencies can reduce duplication and improve the quality of federal information by establishing a central office in each agency, staffed by professionally trained information managers who can assure timely and efficient access to the whole array of vital information sources for all knowledge workers in the agency, as well as for the public that uses the agency's information. Sounds to me like a strong candidate for an NPR Innovation Award!"
FLICC arranged to have the event videotaped and will release formal written proceedings of the event this fall. For a complete agenda and list of presenters, or for more information on the fifteenth Annual FLICC Forum on Federal Information Policies, please contact FLICC Publications and Education by phone (202)707-4800 or by email at FLICCfpe@loc.gov. Materials from the presentations will also be available on the FLICC Web site by the end of May. Visit the publications section of http://www.loc.gov/flicc for updates and resources.
FEDLINK Technical Notes is published by the Federal Library and Information Center Committee. Send suggestions of areas for FLICC attention or for inclusion in FEDLINK Technical Notes to:
Federal Library and Information Center Committee
Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20540-4935
Executive Director: Susan Tarr Editor-In-Chief: Robin Hatziyannis
FLICC was established in 1965 (as the Federal Library Committee) by the Library of Congress and the Bureau of the Budget for the purpose of concentrating the intellectual resources of the federal library and related information community. FLICC's goals are: To achieve better utilization of library and information center resources and facilities; to provide more effective planning development, and operation of federal libraries and information centers; to promote an optimum exchange of experience, skill, and resources; to promote more effective service to the nation at large; and to foster relevant educational opportunities.
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Comments: Library of Congress Help Desk (04/20/98)