Structuring facilities in digital libraries

Abstract: Digital libraries offer much promise for patrons and many challenges for system designers and implementers. One important issue that faces digital library system designers is the type of support provided to patrons for intellectual work. Although many researchers have noted the desirability of robust hypermedia structuring facilities in digital library systems, this research has tended to focus on navigational hypermedia (primarily used for associative storage and retrieval) only. Many other types of hypermedia, such as spatial, issue-based, and taxonomic, have been ignored. We briefly review some of our experiences with building digital library systems and discuss some of the lessons we learned from our initial prototypes. We then present a scenario of digital library work that illustrates many of the kinds of tasks we have observed users of our systems perform. We use this scenario to suggest a potential area of improvement for current hypermedia support in digital library systems and discuss some of our initial work in this area. Finally, we present some directions of future work and some concluding remarks.

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Peter J. Nuernberg