World Libraries


Making World Libraries digital: A brief description

Abstract: For open content and open access to have real meaning for future librarians and information scientists, practical opportunities need to be provided to students in Internet publishing. The Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University provides students with a unique opportunity in scholarly publishing with the School’s own journal World Libraries. Students in the academic year 2004–2005 participated in an effort to transform the journal from a print, subscription–based periodical to an openly accessible, Internet–based journal. This paper describes the digitization of World Libraries as a student–based effort in Internet scholarly publishing.

 Introduction

World Libraries has had an interesting history as a peer–reviewed scholarly journal aimed at librarians in the developing world. It has succeeded to some degree in becoming a vehicle for librarians in a variety of countries to discuss professional activities with their colleagues. Hence, the contents of World Libraries represent an excellent tool for librarians in understanding resourceful approaches to librarianship under many different kinds of situations. It only makes sense that World Libraries should be as accessible as possible.

The Internet provides an excellent platform for making scholarly content available to broad and diverse audiences. A number of different approaches have been initiated to make scholarly information available digitally, including the Open Society Institute’s (2005) Open Access Project and the eGranary Digital Library (2005), providing digital content to African universities (http://www.widernet.org/digitallibrary/). The Open Society Institute’s efforts are a direct result of its Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002). The opening paragraph of the Initiative provides the logical context for open content and open access:

“An old tradition and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good. The old tradition is the willingness of scientists and scholars to publish the fruits of their research in scholarly journals without payment, for the sake of inquiry and knowledge. The new technology is the Internet. The public good they make possible is the world–wide electronic distribution of the peer–reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it by all scientists, scholars, teachers, students, and other curious minds. Removing access barriers to this literature will accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge.”

This reasoning led the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at Dominican University to investigate ways in which World Libraries could be made more accessible via the Internet.

However there are enormous difficulties facing scholars in the developing world in accessing digital content. There is a lack of technology and connectivity; a bias against the Internet as an “American” institution and content as decidedly “English–only”; access to international communication restricted to certain individuals or institutions; and, sheer costs of preparing content digitally. See Block (2001) for more details.

Scaria (2003) pointed out that access to digital scholarly information indeed may backfire. He points out that access to digital content may decrease the utility of local and regional journals, encouraging scholars to abandon those journals in favor of international and more widely accessible digital journals. At this point, there is little evidence to support Scaria’s suggestions. In part, these effects could be reduced by the development of scholarly digital journals by local and regional professional associations in the developing world in partnership with libraries and universities in the developed world. These larger institutions could provide the infrastructure and production skills while scholars in the developing world could create content for publication and dissemination. In part, World Libraries is an example of this sort of model, where librarians in developing countries use World Libraries as a vehicle for the dissemination of their research and experiences, taking advantage of Dominican University’s infrastructure and production techniques.

 Preliminaries

In Spring 2004, the GSLIS faculty agreed to migrate World Libraries from a print, subscription–based publication to openly accessible, Internet–based journal.

This migration was inspired in part by the success of an Internet Publishing class in the curriculum. In this class, students explored issues in Internet Publishing as well as the day–to–day efforts of creating a journal by working on different aspects of First Monday (http://www.firstmonday.org). First Monday is one of the first openly accessible, peer–reviewed journals on the Internet, solely devoted to the Internet. It is edited by Edward J. Valauskas who teaches the Internet Publishing class in Dominican’s GSLIS. Students, in the course offered in different semesters over several years, have added a number of significant elements to First Monday, including a monthly posting on the most popular articles read in the journal (see “Best Mondays” at http://www.firstmonday.org/best.html) and a random review of past content (see “Random Mondays” at http://www.firstmonday.org/random.html). Graduates of the Internet Publishing class continue to contribute to First Monday. Most notably Su Bochenski, an alumna of GSLIS and specifically the Internet Publishing class, is First Monday’s Art Editor. She is responsible for a number of important aspects of the journal, including the basic appearance of each issue every month.

With First Monday as a model, it was decided that the migration of World Libraries to an Internet–based, openly accessible version would begin in Autumn 2004 in the Internet Publishing class. At the time, it was thought that it would take 24 months to complete the transition from print to digital.

 Procedures

In the Fall semester, 2004, nine graduate students — Jean Blaho, Wei Chen, Amber Creger, Christopher Day, Melanie Gray, Martinique Haller, Pat Nassopoulos, Nicole Steeves, and Renee Stein — gathered in the Internet Publishing class to begin to organize a digital version of World Libraries. The class broke up into several teams to decide how to best proceed with procedural tasks. There were three major teams. One group experimented with different designs and layouts for the World Libraries; their results were posted on a server of one of the members of the group, Christopher Day. A second group examined content from past printed issues of World Libraries for digitization. Another group examined the editorial and production processes and how they would alter in the transition to a digital product.

By the end of the semester (December 2004), a basic design had been created for the Web site. It was loaded on Christopher Day’s Web site (see http://www.chrisdaydesign.com/worldlib/). A process for the orderly production of digital content had been developed, with two streams. Digitization would move along two paths, one pulling archival content and another digitizing and marking up in HTML new content for current and future issues. Guidelines for authors were created and a graphic description of the editorial process was also created (see http://www.worlib.org/authorguidelines.shtml).

Remarkable process was made in the course of a four–month semester by an extremely talented and experienced group of graduate students. The enthusiasm of the students was based on the reality of working on an actual journal, not an imaginary class exercise. Given that World Libraries is one of only three scholarly journals published by graduate schools of library and information science in the United States, these students also recognized the unique nature of their opportunity in Internet and scholarly publishing.

In the Spring semester of 2005, ten graduate students — Mary Burke, Brian Hightower, Alison Hofer, Jennifer Marquardt, Karen McBride, Jeanette Morgan, Kathleen Murphy, Lynnea Nash, Scott Pitol, and Maria Rao — continued the efforts of students from the previous semester. With a great deal of assistance of Internet Publishing “alums” Christopher Day and Nicole Steeves, the Spring class again broke up into groups, concentrating on different aspects of World Libraries. With the template created in the previous semester, students worked on marking up content for the next new issue of World Libraries, the Cuba special issue (see http://www.worlib.org/vol13no1-2/index.shtml). Archival processing continued with the digitization of several past issues, for the years 2002 and 2000. In addition, innovative arrangements of archival content were created; for example, all of the biographical essays of deceased international librarians (entitled “Pioneers”) from print archival issues were organized in separate special digital issue (see http://www.worlib.org/virtual/pioneers.shtml).

New features were created to enhance the experience of using World Libraries online. Entitled “Pathfinders,” these resources provided specific additional information to supplement articles in the journal. The first “pathfinders” were dedicated to Bolivia, the Caribbean, Cuba, and Ghana and are tied to specific content.

A timetable was established to develop digital content by the end of the semester. The objective was to migrate content from the temporary Web site on Christopher Day’s server to an actual site with an appropriate URL (www.worlib.org) sometime in May 2005. Digital content would also be mapped to a compact disc with an aim for distribution to international librarians attending the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference in Chicago in June 2005.

Additional efforts concentrated on metadata for each article published in World Libraries, as well publicity and graphics.

By May 2005, three different archival issues of World Libraries, volume 12, numbers 1 and 2 (2002) as well as the joint issue, volume 10, numbers 1 and 2 (2000) were digitized. A special digital issue dedicated to the “pioneers” was also available online as well as the most current issue, volume 13, numbers 1 and 2, dedicated to Cuba. Content was migrated from its temporary location to a remote server (see http://www.worlib.org). Several thousand compact discs were prepared as well. These discs were distributed freely to librarians attending international events at the ALA annual conference.

The incredible success and hard work of 19 students led to World Libraries becoming an openly accessible journal in a little over nine months, far less than the projected framework of 24 months. Their enthusiasm and their ability to work in teams made the reality of Internet publishing a rich and enjoyable experience.

 Conclusion

The class Internet Publishing will continue to be offered each Fall and Spring semester in GSLIS, giving students diverse opportunities to add new and archival content to World Libraries. Students in this semester’s class (Fall 2005) — Margaret Cook, Judith Eckoff, Michele Mack, Elizabeth McQuillan, Anita Roche, Cynthia Ternes, and Jeannine Tiesch — are looking at ways of streamlining production, developing an editorial and production manual, digitizing the oldest print content (volumes 1 and 2), and preparing to add another new issue. Students will take away meaningful experiences in the practical aspects of Internet publishing, while continuing to make World Libraries open and accessible to all. For the students of Internet Publishing, the notion of creating a “public good” (as described in the Budapest Open Access Initiative) has meaning and value, as exemplified in the virtual pages of World Libraries.

 References

David Block, 2001. “Accessing scholarly communication in the developing world: It takes more than bytes,” Social Science Research Council, Working Paper Series, at http://www.ssrc.org/programs/publications_editors/publications/working_papers/wp4.pdf, accessed 16 October 2005.

eGranary Digital Library, 2005. “The eGranary Digital Library,” at http://www.widernet.org/digitallibrary/, accessed 16 October 2005.

Open Society Institute, 2005. “Open Access Project,” at http://www.soros.org/initiatives/information/focus_areas/openaccess, accessed 16 October 2005.

Open Society Institute, 2002. “Budapest Open Access Initiative,” at http://www.soros.org/openaccess/read.shtml, accessed 16 October 2005.

Vinod Scaria, 2003. “Scholarly communication in biomedical sciences, open access and the developing world,” Internet Health, volume 1, number 1, at http://www.virtualmed.netfirms.com/internethealth/articleapril03.html, accessed 16 October 2005.

 About the Author

Edward J. Valauskas is the Follett Chair in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University (River Forest, Ill.).
E–mail: ejv [at] dom [dot] edu

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