On Feb 2, 2006, at 4:59 PM, Alexander Johannesen wrote:

> Could you explain what we're seeing and what we should be looking for
> (like, the second digital image doesn't work; bad ID?) ?

Thank you for your interest, and I will probably reply with more
information than you desire.

What you are see at the URL above is an amalgamation of three digital
repositories in the form of a browsable/searchable list. The
implementation is a demonstration of harvesting OAI-accessible
content and providing services against the cache. It is the
beginnings of a digital library.

We have three digital repository applications here at Notre Dame:
DigiTool, DSpace, and ETD-db. Each of these three systems have
distinct advantages and disadvantages. One of the most distinct
disadvantages of each system is their inability to truly be
customized for any institution; each application is always going to
look DSpace-like, DigiTool-like, or ETD-db-like. This characteristic
works against usability.

More importantly, each of these systems works more like an
application as opposed to a set of library function calls; each
system does not really support any API. This makes it difficult to
provide additional functionality against the repositories. (MyLibrary
2.x had this problem; it was more of a turn-key application as
opposed to a set of object-oriented Perl modules.) For example,
without a lot of programming, it is difficult to provide RSS feeds
against any of the systems above. Similarly, it is next to impossible
to send search results via email. Even if everybody put stuff into
DSpace, it would not be possible to create things like personal
bibliographies for personal Web pages from the DSpace content without
querying the database directly. DSpace was not designed to do such

By aggregating the content of these three systems into a centralized
cache accessible through an API I can do all of the things above and
more. I can provide search through any number of indexers. I can
provide simple search or power search. I can create a browsable list
that looks like this, that, or the other thing. I can syndicate the
content to a campus-wide portal. I can create subsets of the data and
insert it via HTML script tags into personal Web pages. As I create
searchable/browsable lists and I can include things like a Google
PageRank number to denote the apparent importance of the page. I can
sort the list in many ways. With a bit more work, I can measure how
many times a particular page has been viewed and by what IP address.
This information would be very valuable to the author. These are the
things to watch for later.

As of now, most of the content in the system is sample data. That is
why all the images don't produce output. (Most do.) That being the
case, we are well on our way to creating a cohesive, synergistic
digital library complete with collections AND services. We are doing
this by exploiting our systems, writing our own software, and taking
advantage of well-articulated best practices.

Instead being controlled by our computers, we are controlling them.

Eric Lease Morgan
University Libraries of Notre Dame