Imagine, with the single click of a mouse a smorgasbord of reference listings consolidated from public, university and on-line digital libraries. Such an indepth reference option will be coming your way soon thanks to a professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).
Led by Michael Bieber, PhD, associate professor of information systems and co-director of the Collaborative Hypermedia Research Laboratory at NJIT, a group of information scientists and librarians received last month a total of more than $2 million in federal funding to develop computer software to create such a tool.
“We’re developing a supersized library,” said Bieber. “Our meta information engine will automatically add links within Web pages to related documents and services, customized to your current task.”
Funding, which extends through September of 2007, includes $498,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS); $850,000 from the National Science Digital Library program at the National Science Foundation (NSF); and $800,000 from the NSF to develop a general recommendation engine. Librarians and other researchers from NJIT, Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts, Ramapo College, Cumberland Community College and the Newark Public Library, as well as several on-line digital libraries, will help Bieber test and develop the software.
Holdings in the virtual mega library will include the home library’s on-line catalog, databases and electronic special collections. Also available will be the National Science Digital Library's on-line educational resource network, the Science@NASA educational digital library and books on sale at Amazon.com that pertain to any item a user selects on the computer screen. The National Science Digital Library is a network that includes teaching resources, experiments, data and more for students in grade and secondary schools as well as in higher education.
In addition to extra links, the system will improve upon Google’s style of information delivery, said Bieber. Just type a topic into a library’s designated search engine. A few seconds later a list of resources grouped by sub-topics will appear.
"What’s exciting is that now users must search each electronic database separately,” said Bieber. “Our new software will enable users to conduct the same search over all library resources at once. We already have gotten inquiries from other college libraries, so I believe the project will be helpful to many people when it’s completed.”