My thoughts regarding the digital legal brief bank I built for digital libraries are intermingled with my thoughts about a couple of other digital collections I built over this semester. I believe all three collections are related to fate! Isn’t it funny how the information you seek is placed in your path in the most mysterious ways? For example, I was not suppose to take Digital Collections. My program plan called for some IT networking/securtiy class. Well, for reasons I forget now I opted for Digital Collections. As fate would have it three cases at work were granted writ of cert and building the digital brief bank went from the back-burner to the top of my list. Through this class I learned just how much I don’t know about building digital collections, adding metadata, verifying access, etc. But more importantly what I did learn will alter my future and make me forever grateful for Doc Martens, fellow students, and the resources provided during the course of the semester.

The most important resources, regarding digtial collections, are the 131 suggested by Doc Martens. I read and bookmarked each one and will use them many times in the future. Classmates offered links, insights, and evaluations that will make me ponder decisions I make about future digital collections.

Finally, the third collection I built over the course of this semester breaks my heart but was and is required. This collection currently consists of 48 medical journal articles on Cushing’s Disease. As many of you know my daughter was diagnosed with Cushing’s back in March and had brain surgery in April to remove two pituitary tumors. Well, on Nov. 1st we found out Cushing’s has returned. Next week we leave for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota because her Oklahoma doctors have never dealt with a Cushing’s reoccurence. This is a devasting and rare disorder that left untreated can be fatal.

My Cushing’s collection has been greatly enhanced by two wonderful medical librarians, one who is a classmate in Digital Collections, and the other who is a classmate in my Special Libraries course. These men have talked me from the edge more times than I care to remember. And, to think four short months ago I didn’t know either one and now I consider them both best friends! Fate is a grand and wonderful thing.


With all the digital library information dancing around in my head I did not want to lose sight of the brick and mortar libraries so I decided to read Fool’s Gold: Why The Internet Is No Substitute For A Library by Mark Herring. This particular book started out as a request to develop “talking points” about the need for libraries. It morphed from there. One of its manifestations is a poster which highlights the need to keep libraries around for the foreseeable future.

Introduction: The section describing how many predicted Compact Disks would be the end of libraries brought back many painful memories for me. You see, on April Fool’s Day 1997 my boss informed me that my library had three hundred thousand dollars and six months to disappear. Being a solo librarian I just knew this was a joke. Well the joke was on me and the complete assignment was to transition as much of the law library as possible to CD within six months. Well to make a long story short within nine months eighty percent of the materials were available on CD and the same percentage of books were gone. For the next seven years I fought one Information Technology battle after another. I rejoiced when the final sixty-three bay CD-Rom server was sent to the digital landfill. The same eighty percent is now served to the user over the web.

Chapter 1: Discusses many of the evil portions of the web. Including spam, identity theft, hate groups, misinformation and others. Dr. Herring discusses all of these inturn and emphasizes that he is not a Luddite but is merely attempting to get people to think of the web as a tool and the not the pancea many make it out to be.

Chapter 2: Explains how and how often web crawlers work, Google bombing, Error 404, and how the Web encourages illiterates.

Chapter 3: Brings to the reader’s attention the percentage of pornography to the entire web: “It is estimated that the pornography industry takes in more revenue than CBS, NBC, ABC, ESPN, CNN and FOX News, combined” (pg. 58).

Mouse-trapping and Looping are discussed on page 70. I had not encountered these terms before reading this book.

Chapter 4: Is where the author praises JSTOR and degrades mega-publishers for their lack of foresight in preserving historical runs of periodicals. This chapter is also the place where tying this post to digital libraries becomes apparent. Here Dr. Herring discusses digitized text and whether or not they can withstand the test of time. In relation to this he discusses link rot and migration.

I will leave chapters 5 through 9 for you to discover. These chapters contain the better arguments for why the Internet will not replace physical libraries.

Additional musings about Fool’s Gold:

Possibly my favorite sentence in the entire book is on page 13: Adapting our technology as a tool to serve the library serves both us and the library perfectly. My affection for this line stems from my preaching that computers are not the panacea most claim them to be. Of course, Dr. Herring states it more elegantly than I. Seriously, the pc is a wonderful addition to our lives but it should not define us!

Ok, I will admit I was starting to feel old-fashioned for preferring quiet when I am studying. Now, I can feel all warm and fuzzy because in 2005 the Kaiser Family Foundation report on multitasking “indicates that not only can young people not do this, but they are learning less because they are trying to do so.”  (Herring 2007, 15).

When are librarians going to get over their inferiority complex and starting shouting our their worth to the universe?!

My nephew refers to the media center at his school as the Library!

Someone once stated: “I will trade all the Internet for one good book.”  I would also throw in all the pc’s, software, and video games for one excellent Library!

Is Dr. Herring preaching to the choir? Is anyone other than librarians reading this book?

Now, I know some will say Dr. Herring is a zealot or a luddite but my take was that he was impassioned about where society will end up when we lose our libraries.


Herring, Mark Y. 2007. Fool’s gold: Why the Internet is no substitute for a library. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc.

Ok, making this post about digital collections is a stretch and getting here was quite a journey so please be patient while I explain.

It all started with the course reading list, for Digital Collections, way back in August. With comps, surgery, courses, work, a hard drive crash, and family this now seems like a lifetime ago. Anyway, on said reading list was an article titled Discards by Nicholson Baker. At this point I think “ok just another article but at least this one sounds a bit more interesting than the usual grad school fare”.

Fast forward to the day I am pulling (printing) all the articles for this class. Well, as fate would have it, Discards decides to be difficult. With simple searhing not working I ratchet up the old tenacity and dig deeper. Ok, I am now getting nibbles, apparently Discards was serialized and/or it appeared in the New York Times but I still cannot find a digital copy for the taking. Time is now approaching nightfall and my printer has yet to spit out a copy of Discards because I have failed in locating a digital copy. Now, I really want to get this whole reading list printed because tomorrow is a new day with a complete new set of tasks.

All along this author’s name has been bugging me–you know that faint ringing between the ears–like I have read something by this guy before. So, I take a break from the computer and travel to the laundry room to see if I own anything by this guy. Books in the laundray room is a story for another day. Well, there it is behind door number one (alphabetized by author’s last name so I was pretty sure the “B”s would be behind this door) Double Fold. Ok, I remember this guy–he went beserck when people (read libraries) started pulping old newspapers. So, why in the heck can’t I find the Discards article. So, being the ever vigilant student I rip into Double Fold looking for hints on Discards. Well there on the page listing all of the author’s works sits Discards (an article) and The Size of Thoughts: Essays and Other Lumber (a book). Knowing a thing or two about essayist I start thinking–I wonder if Discards is reprinted in The Size of Thoughts. With this thought I travel back to the computer (after putting a load in the dryer) to log into the Bizzell OPAC. Well, as luck would have it Bizzell has a copy of The Size of Thoughts and that little Table of Contents feature tells me that Discards  is reprinted within. I am a bit happier but still skeptical–so much could go wrong. The book could be missing from the library, another student could beat me to the library, the pages I need could have been torn from the book, I could wreck before getting to Bizzell, a metorite could crash. . .

So, at 10:00 p.m. on a Sunday night I climb into my car to make the 15 mile sojourn to campus because at this point I am not going to believe Discards has been located until I see it with my own eyes. This time may not sound late to some but I must be up by 5:00 a.m. so I am cutting into my precious sleep time to go book hunting at this hour. You would not believe how many students are in the library on Sunday nights–I barely found a place to park. Well, sure enough starting on page 125 of The Size of Thoughts, my much desired, Discards begins.

Now, I am sure Doc Martens put the article up on the web page but seriously what is the challenge in just printing the article. I am a librarian and with just a modicum of information I shall find, pull (print) the list and learn a thing or two by going on the journey and not just arriving at the destination.

Now, I bet you would really like for me to get to how this posts relates to digital libraries and I will I promise–eventually.

Come to find out The Size of Thoughts book actually has two Library Science essays within its pages. Besides Discards there is a wonderful essay titled Books as Furniture.

Books as Furniture discusses how junk mail catalogs use books as props. Well, as is Mr. Baker’s unique gift, he goes to the library and checks out some of the prop books which can be identified. He then relates the significance to him of reading the book he would not otherwise have encountered but for it being a prop in a catalog. Now, at this point in the Books essay things are feeling a bit surreal for me because the only reason I am reading Books is the hunt that produced Discards.

By the second half of the Books essay I am feeling better as the content moves toward discussions of the history of bookcases and great libraries of the past.

Now, finally, the connection between this post and digital libraries–once everything is digitized we can use the print books as props to sell items. And, the challenges I faced in locating and obtaining the Discards essay will no longer part of our skill set. I hope I do not live to see the day when books are only valued as props!


Reference List:

Baker, Nicholson. 2001. Double fold: Libraries and the assault on paper. New York: Vintage Books.

———. 1996. The size of thoughts: Essays and other lumber. New York: Random House.

Applying traditional archaelolgy concepts to digital libraries is the focus of an article by Scott Nicholoson. My first thought was that this would be interesting reading. Well, I was wrong. If I knew more about archaelogy I could have enjoyed the article to a greater degree.

With this said the article is worth reading for the challenge of thinking of digital libraries outside of the library science realm.

Mr. Nicholoson concludes this article by stating:

“By developing generalizations, creating hypotheses about digital library use, and testing those hypotheses through research involving data and users, researchers can move beyond descriptions and advance our understanding of library use”. 


Nicholson, Scott. 2005. Digital library archaeology: A conceptual framework for understanding library use through artifact-based evaluation. Library Quarterly 75 (4): 496-520.

Ok, I just could not let the semester end without blogging about one more Makri article. If you will remember he is my new found hero who is working on his Phd across the pond.

This study investigated people’s mental models of both traditional and digital libraries in order to compare and contrast their understanding of these two kinds of informations resources. The study participants were Masters student studying either Library and Information science or Human-Computer interaction.

The study looked at the following themes:

1. Similarities and differences between traditional and digital libraries;

2. Access issues;

3. Assessment of library content;

4. Document and results organization;

5. Understanding search;

6. Assessment of document relevance;

7. Revising the model; and

8. Troubleshooting issues.

A quote from the conclusion section:

“This study has shown that these users have formed only rudimentary mental models of the digital libraries they chose to access. For example, they have limited understanding of how documents are organized, how to tailor queries to particular search engines, how access mechanisms work, and how search results are ranked. Consequently, participants’ strategies for finding information were suboptimal, and there were undoubtly missed opportunities (e.g., because participants were reluctant to investigate access rights if it involved entering any personal information whatsoever). Moreover, although users engaged in limited exploration, they were sometimes unwilling to explore and, at other times, unable to interpret the results of exploration in ways that would enable them to develop more sophisticated models, and hence (potentially) more sophiscated searching capabilities”.

This is so scary because the participants were soon to be Librarians! If we don’t know this stuff how are we ever going to teach it to future generations!!!



Makri, Stephann, Ann Blandford, Jeremy Gow, Jon Rimmer, Claire Warwick, and George Buchanan. 2007. A library or just another information resource? A case study of users’ mental models of traditional and digital libraries. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 58 (3): 433-455.

Designing a Search User Interface for a Digital Library by Lynne Davis is an excellent article which discusses the importance of changing your digital library as technologies change. The article discusses some of the tasks their searchers need to complete while visiting this particular digital library, which is all about science:

Design all or part of a course;

Prepare for class;

Isolated educators seek online professional interaction with faculty elsewhere;

Professional development;

Contribute to the library;

Explore teaching methods;


Finding funding;

Student doing research project;

Resource creation support; and

Preservice teacher assistance.

The article also delineates the Best practices of this particular digital library as:

Flexibility in design;

Integrating search and browse activities;

Presenting the results of a search for cataloged resources;

Language of controlled vocabularies; and

Informing the design.

This is a very short article and I would recommend it to anyone who wants insight into the numerous ways visitors attempt to utilize digital libraries.


Davis, Lynne. 2006. Designing a search user interface for a digital library. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 57, (6): 788-791.

Working with attorneys and their various personalities has always been intriquing so when I cam across an article about reading behaviors I set it aside for later reading. Well, later has finally arrived and I am ever so glad I printed the article.

This particular article studied the changes in reading behavior of 113 adults from the ages of 30 to 45. The changes were self-reported and covered the immediate past ten years (1995 to 2005).

The goal of this study was to investigate reading behavior in the digital environment by studying how people’s reading behavior has changed. Understanding said changes would help in desgining more effective digital libraries.

The following questions were asked of the participants:

1. time spent on reading;

2. percentage of time spent on reading printed documents;

3. percentage of time spent on reading electronic documents;

4. percentage of time spent on browsing and scanning;

5. percentage of time spent on keyword spotting

6. percentage of time spent on in-depth reading;

7. percentage of time spent on concentrated reading;

8. percentage of documents read one time;

9. reading things selectively;

10. non-linear reading;

11. sustained attention;

12. frequency of annotating printed documents while reading;

13. frequency of annotating electronic documents while reading;

14. frequency of highlighting printed documents while reading;

15. frequency of highlighting electronic documents while reading;

16. frequency of printing out electronic documents for reading; and

17. preference of document media when reading.

The Findings and discussions section of the article is the most fascinating and informative. This section reports:

In the digital age, people are spending more time on reading. Sixty-seven percent of participants report a greater amount of reading now than ten years ago.

Eighty-three percent report the percentage of time devoted to reading electronically is increasing.

The screen-based reading behavior is characterized by more time on browsing and scanning, keyword spotting, one-time reading, non-linear reading, and more reading selectively; while less time is spent on in-depth reading and concentrated reading, and sustained attention is decreasing.

Most people tend to read the first screen of text only. A total of 90 percent of people reading a web page do not scroll down. This type of scanning offers an effective way to filter through the vast amount of information.

People are doing more and more ‘picture’ reading, looking for illustrations to explain charts and pictures.

Over 56 percent of respondents note that the percentage of documents they read one time is increasing.

About 78 percent of the participants report that they read more selectively today.

Time spent on non-linear reading is increasing. Nearly half of the respondents mentioned declining sustained attention in reading.

Hyperlinks distract people from reading and thinking deeply about a single subject.

Eighty percent of participants reported that they “always” or “frequently” print out electronic documents for reading.

Ninety percent of respondents prefer paper as a reading medium to digital media.

Tha above gives me quite a bit to mull over while designing the digital brief bank.

Overall this was an excellent article and I would highly recommend to all librarians. Its insights into our patrons reading behaviors is definitely worth the half hour of reading time.




Liu, Ziming. 2005. Reading behavior in the digital environment: Changes in reading behavior over the past ten years. Journal of Documentation 61 (6): 700-712.