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Designing interfaces for distributed electronic collections: searching, browsing and the lessons of traditional librarianship

Joint, N. (2001) Designing interfaces for distributed electronic collections: searching, browsing and the lessons of traditional librarianship. Libri, 51 (3). pp. 148-156. ISSN 0024-2667

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For digital libraries to fulfil their true potential, they must display features and exploit skills more readily associated with the traditional library service. To some extent this has already happened: collection management has become the process of Internet resource discovery, while document cataloguing skills have been applied to the creation of Internet resource metadata repositories. This paper argues that there are certain areas of traditional classification, knowledge management and physical library arrangement that have special applicability to electronic collection building. However, librarians have often failed to appreciate this relevance. In particular, they have not appreciated the significance of browsing in the traditional library, and have replicated this failure in their approach to electronic collection building. Concentrating on British academic libraries, this paper explores knowledge management at the level of the local library, the Metropolitan Area Network and the United Kingdom's Distributed National Electronic Resource. The principle of ownership of intellectual property is examined in terms of its relationship with interface design, and positive future trends are described.