Library 2000, Annual Report 1991

(Paragraph appearing within the Advanced Network Architectures section of the 1991 Annual Report of the Laboratory for Computer Science.)

Distributed Electronic Libraries

Distributed on-line libraries and publishing are becoming technically feasible, but their structure has not been thoroughly examined. A new research program is exploring the system engineering required to create such systems with near-term display, storage, and communications technology. Some of the issues that need to be explored are long-term (multi-decade) storage persistence, backup techniques suitable for terabytes of disk storage, and distributed search, indexing, and document dissemination.

The short-term approach has been to create a small, but real, prototype system, and to progressively push it to larger and larger scales. The prototype system currently contains the card catalog of the LCS/AI reading room, and of the MIT Libraries computer science holdings. It consists of a simple user interface, a sophisticated search engine, and a cataloging system. The reading room catalog is rapidly maturing, and by late June the reading room staff had fully catalogued the reading room's collection of proceedings.

An important aspect of the anticipated architecture is to provide a uniform interface to collections of related materials that are under distinct administrations. The first step has been the addition of the MIT Libraries catalog fragment. The immediate next steps are the acquisition of dedicated hardware, the gathering and integration of the abstracts and text (and later images) of LCS and AI Technical Reports, and the generation of interest in full scale funding for the project.

The project staff consists of Professor Jerome H. Saltzer, Mitchell N. Charity, Rebecca J. Soble, Paula Mickevich, and Maria Sensale, and it is being done with cooperation of the M.I.T. Library System and the Digital Equipment Corporation Cambridge Research Laboratory.

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