Implementation and Innovation in the NSDL by William Arms

September 18, 2008 at 2:07 pm 2 comments

The Cornell demonstration project

Since the Cornell demonstration project, Site for Science [3], became the technical basis for the central NSDL system, it is interesting to compare what was envisioned in 2000 with what has developed since. Reading the Cornell proposal today, with the benefit of hindsight, I am impressed with how strong it was technically and how little emphasis it gave to other important areas.

Today’s central system has many technical similarities with the Site for Science prototype, particularly in the central role of a metadata repository. The details have changed, e.g., a relational database has been replaced by a Fedora repository, but the proposal was explicit about the role of Dublin Core and the importance of compound digital objects. It had an interesting section that anticipates personal information services of the type now known as Web 2.0. The prototype was an early adopter of the OAI-PMH.

Elsewhere, the demonstration project was less strong. There was no recognition of the differences between K-12 and higher education. The focus was on building a virtual library that will be a resource for everybody interested in science. In the tradition of higher education, the goal was to make primary materials available, with no distinction between the library provision for students, teachers, and researchers. There was no understanding that this model of a library needed to be modified for K-12 education.

The organizational issues that frustrated the early years of the NSDL were mainly ignored in the proposal. There was little consideration of how to combine the various small projects into a coherent whole, but it was assumed that there would be a federation with the NSF providing firm direction via the Core Integration team. There was an optimistic assumption that many of the major partners would be external projects that were not funded by the NSF.

The 2000 solicitation had a few sentences on how the NSDL might continue when the original NSF funding expired and the Cornell proposal had a short section on this topic, but only in the context of the central system.

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Entry filed under: NSDL Core Integration. Tags: , , .

Welcome to NSDL Reflections! Reflections on NSDL by Frank Wattenberg

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Flora McMartin  |  March 18, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Bill writes that NSDL has been faced with two challenges: supporting education at all levels and mixing the missions of innovation and implementation. He adds that the “aim was to implement a digital library, but the funding program was more suitable for a broad program of research and development.”
     
    Given the broad and mixed mission, does NSDL need to focus its resources in particular areas to ensure longer term sustainability? What would those areas of focus be, and can digital library services be created that provide value to some set of users or funders?

    Reply
  • […] explaining its 1996-1997 roots in NSF-funded planning studies (see NSDL Reflections Weblog, “Implementations and Innovation in the NSDL” by William Arms). Dr. Linda Slakey, NSF Division of Undergraduate Education Division Director […]

    Reply

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Welcome to NSDL Reflections!

We are collecting the "reflections" on the collaborative development of the National Science Digital Library (NSDL). This site is a place for NSDL participants to “tell the story” of how they think NSDL was formed, grew and is continuing to grow. And for the community to discuss and learn from these reflections.

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