Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Based on the email interview of Dr. Edward A. Fox by Rebecca Glazer, Staff Writer VT Colleiate Times [January 25, 2006]

What exactly will this research focus on?
Developing syllabi and educational materials to help people learn about digital libraries.

Who will be conducting this research?
The funding covers a graduate research assistant and me at VT, for 3 years. It covers a research assistant and the two faculty at UNC also for 3 years.

How will you be testing the modules?
The proposal and paper outline our evaluation plan. There are many parts to it.

We will do some testing in courses at VT and UNC.

We will get input from 10 or more students each year who attend the doctoral consortium at the ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL), the premiere conference in the field.

We have an expert board, including some at VT, some at UNC, and leading people in the field from around the nation, who will help with the evaluation and with advising on our plans and progress. Many of these outsiders have expressed interest in trying out what we develop in their courses, at leading universities, in both computer science departments, and in schools of library and/or information science.

Will other education materials be made available with the lessons being tested?
Yes, eventually a textbook. Also a broad range of educational resources.

What are the benefits of developing a digital library curriculum like this?
We will leverage prior work on the Computing and Information Technology Interactive Digital Educational Library ( CITIDEL, see ), that supports CS and IT teaching and learning, to help disseminate the educational materials produced. CITIDEL is hosted by VT, and was funded by NSF as part of its National Science Digital Library, see, and so that will help further with dissemination.

Digital libraries often help with teaching and learning. So, putting materials in such open systems is a good way to share them.

Our project is not really developing a digital library but rather developing content to go into various digital libraries, including CITIDEL and NSDL.

Can you elaborate a little on the 5 S's?
We have been working more than 5 years to develop a sound foundation for the relatively new (10-15 year old) field of digital libraries. We call that 5S. It is well defined using precise mathematics. So we can build on it, and be very clear and precise, so there is no confusion.

This is a little like what happened starting in the 1970s, in the field of database management, we hope. The Relational Model was mathematically defined, which led to initial systems, and then to companies (e.g., Oracle), and then to products that are now widely used (e.g, Access, DB2, SQL Server, ...). We hope 5S will allow the digital library field to flourish, and reduce the push for every system to be built independently, at relatively great expense. That also will facilitate interoperability.

5S seems to cover digital libraries, but we also believe it could cover many other types of information systems. So there could be broader impact.

5S can be used as a checklist for requirements or for a design, in an informal way, that is rather intuitive. One simply thinks of a system in terms of Societies, Scenarios, Spaces, Structures, and Streams. Each is a key part. These five Ss also can be used to define the key constructs in a digital library, like digital objects, metadata objects, a catalog, a repository, a hypertext, an index, etc.

How is collaboration between our two schools,VT and UNC, important in developing this digital library curriculum?
Digital libraries has emerged through work of computer scientists, and library and information scientists. To prepare the next generation of practitioners, researchers, developers, and educators, we need people from both CS and LIS. VT CS is one part, and UNC School of Information and Library Science is the other part. There are no library schools in Virginia, and UNC has one of the very best library schools.

Our educational resources can be used in CS as well as LIS courses only if we have people from both these backgrounds involved in the development of the materials.

DL Curriculum Project: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Digital Library Curriculum Project