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October 26, 1998

California Digital Library links people to vital environmental information

UC Office of the President

The University of California has made it easier for the public to gather facts about hurricanes, earthquakes, water pollution, and other important environmental events and issues through a unique environmental information Web site now available.

With the click of a mouse, it is now possible from a single Web site to gather data on such divergent subjects as the latest weather report in outer space, El Nino, and how to avoid packing bugs home from your latest vacation.

The Web site, created by the California Digital Library and located at http://www.eip.cdlib.org/, makes available an environmental database of scholarly publications, a selection of digitized unique materials held in University of California libraries, and high-quality links to other Web-based environmental information.

Access to the Web site is available to the world at large, with 33 demonstration sites in Northern, Central and Southern California highlighting the site and having exclusive access to the scholarly materials licensed from Cambridge Scientific Abstracts. Demonstration sites include public and school libraries and community college libraries, as well as libraries at California State University campuses and state agencies.

This project marks the first collaborative effort with the California State Library to build the Library of California, a visionary plan created by a statewide library coalition--led and supported by the state library and State Librarian Kevin Starr.

As envisioned, the Library of California would enable all types of libraries in the state--public, private, school, and academic--to share collections as well as collaborate and cooperate in the acquisition and distribution of resources. Legislation signed by Governor Pete Wilson in September provides $5 million for its continued development.

Collaboration in building the Library of California is an important goal of UC's California Digital Library, itself a dream of UC President Richard C. Atkinson, who calls it the university's "library without walls."

Launched last October, the California Digital Library is building high-quality digital collections. It is also using innovative technologies to blend major portions of the electronic and print holdings of UC's 29 million-volume collections to make them accessible by desktop or laptop computer to students, faculty, and the general public.

The Environmental Information Project and website is funded by $276,000 in grants from The Library Services and Technology Act--new federal legislation to promote the innovative uses of technology in the nation's libraries. It is the first attempt to bring both these initiatives together to demonstrate the economic and intellectual benefits of collaboration.

Organizers are exploring the technological, organizational, and financial issues involved in licensing commercially available resources and in converting print materials to digitized form and delivering the electronic content from UC's libraries to libraries in the Library of California network.

"This is an opportunity to achieve two benefits at once," said Richard Lucier, executive director of the CDL. "First, the project makes available UC's California Digital Library collections to the public at an early stage in its development. Second, this is an excellent opportunity to collaborate with librarians throughout the state to develop new digital collections and services that will benefit all of California."

Materials related to fires, floods, water rights, earthquakes, and pollution are among those covered by the Environmental Information Project website.

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