[Currents headergraphic]

July 19, 1999

California Digital Library unveils advances in accessing information

By John Ober
UC Office of the President

New features including additional "clickable" paths from searches for journal articles to the online full content of journals have just been added to the California Digital Library in its mid-year release.

For the 315,000 scholars, students, and staff of the University of California, these enhancements help integrate the traditionally separate tasks of discovery and use of information.

The California Digital Library (CDL) Web site and many of its resources, including digitized collections of photographs, manuscripts, and other archival materials from institutions around the state held in the Online Archive of California, is also available to the public.

The CDL, which partners with the nine UC campuses in a continuing commitment to apply innovative technology to the management of scholarly information, opened to the public last January.

As a digital "co-library," complementing the physical libraries of the University of California system, the CDL uses technology to efficiently share materials held by UC, to provide greater and easier access to digital content, and to join with researchers in developing new tools and innovations for scholarly communication.

The July release of the new features represents a step forward in UC President Richard C. Atkinson's vision of "a future when our libraries, at the press of a button, can come to us, wherever we are, whenever we wish."

For instance, a patron may be interested in new critical studies of African literature and finds a useful citation in the Modern Language Association's "MLA Bibliography" journal article database--available via the California Digital Library--that indexes more than 4,000 journals. She now can make a single additional click to an electronic version of the article in those increasing number of cases where the CDL subscribes to the publisher's complete online content.

Continuing the example, a direct link from the "MLA Bibliography" citation to Callaloo, one of 45 premier scholarly journals from Project Muse at Johns Hopkins University Press, would allow the patron to read scholarly articles and poetry or view photography and art all at her desktop.

The ability to click to the electronic version of an article was first made available from databases that the California Digital Library locally mounted, primarily in medicine, science, and technology. The capability has now been expanded through databases located at vendor sites, especially in the humanities and social sciences fields of music, art, architecture, and anthropology.

Similarly, because of CDL's collaboration with vendors of online abstracting and indexing databases, a patron who searches a vendor's database and finds a citation to an article that is available only in print will be able with one click to discover where in the UC system the journal is held.

A goal being considered for future development will allow the patron to make one additional click to have a photocopy of the article delivered to his nearest library or to his doorstep. This would be an extension of the "Request" feature for books found in CDL's Melvyl® Catalog of UC-owned print and audio-visual materials.

Several other enhancements to the California Digital Library will be a boon to researchers.

Web site enhancements provide more convenient access to many different digital collections and services, including a new "Reference Shelf" selection. Searching or browsing the CDL's collection of digital resources, including more than 2,400 electronic journals, more than 50 journal article databases, and 3,000 inventories or "finding aids" to archival collections, has been streamlined. Search results now clearly indicate when a resource is available to the public. Searching for exact titles is now possible, and pop-up help windows are consistently one click away. For several locally mounted resources, a single search will retrieve results from multiple files, saving the patron the need to re-enter the search.

Many of the July enhancements of the California Digital Library are the result of suggestions from faculty and students, campus librarians, and members of the public. Soliciting these comments and working with advisory groups and the digital library and computer science research communities are anticipated to lead to regular six-month releases of the CDL.

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