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January 25, 1999

Electronic doors click open on California Digital Library

By John Ober
UC Office of the President

The California Digital Library (CDL) opened its public digital doors last week by making available an integrated Web gateway to digital collections, services, and tools at http://www.cdlib.org.

When launching CDL's organization in October 1997, UC President Richard Atkinson described the electronic library as the beginning of "a future when our libraries, at the press of a button, can come to us, wherever we are, whenever we wish."

Complementing the physical libraries on the nine campuses of the University of California system, the CDL focuses on selecting, building, managing, preserving, and providing access to shared collections of high-quality digital materials for the university and its partners.

Browsing and searching tools at the Web site provide enhanced access to more than 2,000 electronic journals from major scholarly publishers and information providers such as the Web of Science, JSTOR, the American Chemical Society, Highwire Press, the Association for Computing Machinery, Academic Press, Elsevier, Springer, Kluwer, and many more.

More than 3,000 inventories or finding aids for special and archival collections throughout the state are also represented, along with dozens of journal abstracting and indexing databases as well as reference databases.

Through its Directory of Collections and Services, the new CDL Web site provides a single point of entry for access to these collections. It complements the Melvyl® Union Catalog of UC-owned print and non-print material, as well as campus-based catalogs and Web sites, by directing patrons to a catalog or database search or directly to electronic journals, finding aids, and other digital material.

The directory is designed to be collaboratively maintained by staff across the UC system and to allow a local view of available digital resources at the user's choice. Specific views, including subject-based views, can also be created for a particular entrance to UC shared collections.

Using the CDL, a patron using a computer with access to the Internet can digitally discover and view a variety of scholarly information resources.

For example, the patron could discover the latest books acquired by UC in mechanical engineering.

With a few more mouse clicks, the patron could find a journal on technology and culture, and in many cases link to its full contents.

Finally, the same patron in just a few seconds could view an inventory and selected digitized photos of the Golden Gate Bridge in a collection of construction photographs held by the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley.

The CDL and its partner libraries on each University of California campus are also using digital technologies to enhance sharing of the university's 30-million volume print collection.

Debuting with the CDL Web site is Request, a new service for UC faculty, graduate students, and staff to request material located anywhere in the nine-campus university system. Authorized users will be able to request materials with a simple click of a Web Request button.

Led by University Librarian Richard Lucier, the CDL not only operates in close collaboration with the UC campuses and their libraries--it is often described as a colibrary--but also collaborates with other California universities and organizations to create and extend access to digital material to UC partners and to the public at large.

The Melvyl Union Catalog, the California Periodicals database which lists 863,000 unique titles held in more than 555 libraries, and the Online Archive Of California are freely available to any visitor to the CDL.

The CDL is also collaborating with the California State Library to build the Library of California, a digitally constructed library that could eventually link all of the state's public, private, school, and academic libraries--as well as many of its museums and think tanks--into one of the world's largest electronic information-sharing networks.

"The University of California stands ready to help bring together the talents and resources of the state's colleges and universities and our public libraries with the entrepreneurial energies of the private sector to build these links for sharing information," said President Atkinson.

In addition to building these shared collections and services, the CDL plans to apply digital technologies to directly support the university's faculty as they develop new ways to disseminate their scholarship.

More information can be found at http://www.cdlib.org/.

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