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Research Overview, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Research Overview, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

June 10, 2003


University of Illinois Library

Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS)


1.      Inquiry and related information use research projects: Graduate School of Library and Information Science:


a .  The Inquiry Page <> is a website, a set of communities, and a research project concerned with supporting inquiry to address human needs. The website contains resources for inquiry teaching and learning, as well as a variety of interactive tools to enable individuals and groups to share information and to construct new knowledge. These tools support processes of asking questions, investigating, creating, discussing, and reflecting on problems that are often complex and ill-defined.

b.   " Community Inquiry Laboratories" (CIL). This is a place where members of a community come together to develop shared capacity and work on common problems.  We see CILs as integrally related to the new form of library, as they both build on and contribute to two-way information exchange; new forms of schlarship; new relations among research, teaching, and public engagement; the development of new information and communication technologies; and standards for communication across disparate groups. Some examples are shown below. Each represents collaboration among university students, faculty, community members, and an integration of community-developed information resources with university library and web resources. The descriptions below have a "water" flavor because I adapted them from a poster Ann prepared for a site visit for CAMPWS, the new NSF Science and Technology Center on water purification. GSLIS is developing a collaboratory for that center.

c.  Paseo Boricua <>

The Paseo Boricua Community Inquiry Lab supports the work of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Chicago's Humboldt Park area, a thirty-year old institution that galvanizes neighborhood residents around projects that address critical issues such as gang violence, AIDS, social and environmental justice, literacy, public health, and economic development. Inquiries that are taking shape at the cultural center revolve around testing water quality in
Humboldt Park Lake; addressing water pollution that has resulted from the U.S. test-bombing in Viecques, Puerto Rico; and establishing a roof-top garden.

SisterNet <>

SisterNet is a grassroots organization of African-American women committed to nurturing healthy lifestyles and community activism. They have envisioned a new model for Black women's organizing dedicated to creating wholeness and balance through physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual health. Their efforts are an essential part of a political strategy to resist oppression and shape livable communities. SisterNet women participate in CAMPWS through the development of water quality research and learning activities conducted at their community-based health fairs, conferences, and action circles.

e.  Life on the Prairie <>

Through the Prairie project, Illinois teachers engage middle-school learners in interdisciplinary inquiries that center on the
natural and cultural histories of our region. Teachers attended a series of Spring 2003 inquiry meetings and will participate in a two-day workshop this summer. The Prairie project culminates in a Chautauqua at
Allerton Park in the Fall, open to the public, where teachers and students will share and expand on their inquiries.

Corrales Community Library <>

What can local residents in this New Mexico town do to ensure a sufficient supply of clean water for Corrales? The Corrales Community Library has established a water inquiry lab where people can review and comment on local government reports, pursue research, and learn about local conditions related to water.


g.  Socio -technical aspects of the research process :  Carole Palmer (GSLIS) specializes in information systems and services for scholarly work. She studies the socio-technical dimensions of the research process to understand the information conditions that advance and deter progress within and across research communities. She is engaged in projects to develop information technologies to support interdisciplinary inquiry, discovery, and collaboration and to assess the impact of new technologies on the progression of research in the humanities and the sciences.

·         Information Work and Discovery Potentials in Neuroscience Research

National Science Foundation, CISE/Digital Society and Technologies, $346,870, 08/20/02 - 08/19/05, PI C. Palmer


·         Discovery in Neuroscience Research: The Role of Information in Practice

University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana Research Board, $22,576, 06/21/02 - 08/21/03, PI C. Palmer


h.       An Internet Environment for Biodiversity Survey Collaboration and Verification

NSF/ITR/IM, $475,866, 9/01/01 - 08/31/03, P.I.: B. Heidorn, Co-PIs: M.Jeffords, M.Lisowski


i.          A Digital Library Testbed for Endangered Cultural Knowledge

NSF International Digital Library, $2,000,000, PI N. Ahuja, Co-PI J. Downie (GSLIS)


j.          Collaborative Research: Toward the Scientific Evaluation of Music Information Retrieval systems

NSF, $318,391, PI J. Downie, Co-PI M. Welge (NCSA), Co-PI W. Birminghamn (Michigan)


k.   The Biological Information Browsing Environment (BIBE) <> is a facility to help novices and experts find information about plants and animals in digital collections. It is a two-dimensinal browsing interface for the flora and fauna of North America. PI:  P. Bryan Heidorn; National Science Foundation. 

The Biology Workbench <> is a web-based computational environment that permits people of all ages to use molecular biology databases, for research, teaching, or learning. The Biology Student Workbench provides a transparent introduction to the use of the Biology Workbench for learning and teaching biology at all levels.

m.  Chickscope <> enables students and teachers to access data generated from the latest scientific instruments, and resources such as a database of MR images of developing chicken embryos. The goals include an increased understanding of the process of gathering scientific data and the opportunity to interact with scientists from several disciplines and students in other classrooms The access to unique scientific resources and expertise provides motivation for learning science and mathematics and stimulates interest in the scientific world. (Cf. Bugscope <>) Chip Bruce, co-PI.  Beckman Institute, NCSA, Illinois Board of Higher Education, the Lumpkin Foundation.

n.  The Distributed Knowledge Research Collaborative (DKRC) <> is a multidisciplinary group dedicated to the study of how knowledge is produced, shared, negotiated and co-constructed within distributed communities and the way in which technologies support these exchanges. DKRC was formed with the assumption that understanding distributed knowledge processes requires the perspectives and methodologies of multiple disciplines. Our research team and approaches are multidisciplinary, drawing from and contributing to the sociology of scientific knowledge, computer mediated communication studies, social network analysis, information science, management and education. DKRC operates on the assumption that some knowledge processes, at least, can be distributed, including our own. Our research team is itself distributed, both by discipline and in space

o.  RiverWeb <> leverages modeling, simulation, visualization and web technologies to prototype digital resources that promote inquiry among diverse audiences about river basin processes. Its mission: to promote citizen participation in watershed management and policy; and bridge environmental research with education, formal with informal learning, and government with citizenry. Central to RiverWeb is construction of Digital River Basins (DRB), exploratoria in which vivid, dynamic, digital representations of river systems and processes can be investigated through novel display and interaction environments, accessible from museums, classrooms and the web.

p.   The goal of the VR-savvy project <> is to provide middle school students with opportunities to collaborate with each other (and their teachers in science, art, and technology) to design and create their own virtual worlds using the virtual reality CAVE. VR-savvy is funded by the Silicon, Carbon, Culture initiative.

The Office for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (MSTE) <> serves as model-builders for innovative, standards-based, technology-intensive mathematics and science instruction at the K-16 levels. The Office serves as a campus-wide catalyst for integrative teaching and learning in mathematics, science, and technology education.

2. Collecting and Archiving


a.      Kolb-Proust Archive for Research ( ) (Library)

The Kolb-Proust Archive for Research, offers resources on French literature and culture at the turn-of-the-century, by maintaining and making available to the public, the research tools gathered over 50 years by the late Professor Philip Kolb for his edition of the correspondence of the prominent French writer Marcel Proust. The collection is being digitized and made available to all on the Kolb-Proust Archive’s website. The digitization process includes a detailed transcription of all of Kolb’s research notes, as well as additional annotations to provide context and bibliographic references to recent publications on relevant topics.  Support to establish the Archive has come from the University of Illinois Critical Research Initiatives grant, the Gould Foundation and the Georges Lurcy Foundation.  Head:  Caroline Szylowicz.


Remnek’s work includes direction of three digital humanities projects at the University of Minnesota, at least one of which is being transferred to the University of Illinois:

b. Early Modern French Women Writers ( frenwom.htm). 

Founded by Remnek to promote faculty-student use of Minnesota ’s E-Text Research Center .   Involved chairing faculty steering group, managing all functions (scanning/encoding/production, image/document preparation, web design/maintenance, student supervision).  Project focus is on women writers of the 15th-17th centuries. Project receives international use and was awarded status as “Key Internet Resource” by the LinkstoGo Service (June 2000).


c. Women's Travel Writing, 1830-1930 (http:// womtrav.htm).

Likewise founded by Remnek in 1997 to promote use of Minnesota ’s E-Text Research Center .   Involved chairing faculty group, managing all functions (including web design/maintenance).  Also involved frequent presentations at digital events, including organization of half-day symposium at Minnesota Women & Travel conference. Project representatives were also invited to attend first annual Women’s Writing Projects Symposium held in conjunction with the Association for Computing in the Humanities Conference, NY, 2001.  Project covers women travelers from and to the United States, as well as selected American and European women travelers to non-Western areas.   It uses distinctive SGML-based analytical encoding, and receives extensive national and international use.  Also listed in LLI: Librarian’s Index to the Internet, Calif. Digital Library (Dec 2001) and the UK Social Sciences Data Repository.

  d. Early 19 thC Russian Readership & Culture ( rusread.htm). 

Pioneering Russian history online archive that includes a collection (searchable in English and Cyrillic) of primary source materials on early 19th-century Russian readership, culture & the press. It consists of: a) TEXTS drawn from fiction, journals, memoirs & travel accounts; and b) SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIALS--bibliographies of primary and secondary sources, a database of 11,898 subscriptions to Russian imprints (1825-1846), images, and various reference materials.  Founded by Remnek in 1998 to begin converting 19 th century Russian primary sources.  Involves managing all functions. Project also uses SGML/XML-based analytical encoding.  In addition, involves PHP/MySQL database mounting/ maintenance.  Project is being transferred to the University of Illinois for additional customization and expansion, including innovative topic map approaches. Project will also expand to include collaboration with digital specialists at Tyumen State University and other Russian digital Centers.


e.      The Basics and Beyond—Digitization Training for Cultural Heritage Information Professionals (Library)

The UIUC Illinois Digitization Institute received a 2002 National Leadership Grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services.  In this two-year project, the Library, in collaboration with the Illinois Heritage Association and the Illinois State Library, will develop a multi-track digitization training program for museums and libraries of all sizes throughout Illinois and neighboring states. This "Basics and Beyond" project will include a range of digitization training options from one day workshops to an on-line course and hands-on opportunities.  PI:  B. Sandore; co-PI’s: N. Bennett, P. Miller; Project Coordinator:  A. Maroso.  Jan. 1, ‘03 Dec. 31, ‘04 ; $241,348. IMLS/National Leadership.  Award # LG-30-02-0254-02.


f. Electronic Archiving (Library, NCSA)

Realizing the pressing need for digital information management the University of Illinois Library is now funding work in the area of electronic records management and digital archives through the University Archives.  The technologies necessary to successfully manage electronic records are similar to those employed in the development of institutional digital repositories, including content management functionality and long-term digital preservation strategies and tools. 
The Archives is collaborating with researchers and domain experts both within and outside the University to explore the practical application of existing technologies to the challenges of digital (electronic) archiving. One such collaboration is with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and the National Archives and Records Administration. Among other things this collaboration focuses on testing the application of auto-classification tools for e-mail analysis. Many universities, government entities, and private corporations are struggling to develop reliable methods for capturing all e-mail messages that might be considered records of their particular organization or institution. Privacy issues and the public’s right to know often conflict and hinder reliable records management practices when it comes to e-mail. We hope using auto-classification techniques will provide a starting point for the development of appropriate e-mail management policies and tools.   Investigators: M. Welge, D. Searsmith, NCSA; J. Kaczmarek, University Library.


g.      High resolution image viewing:  A joint research project between the IBM Corporation and the University Library to explore the uses of high resolution image displays for instruction and research with digitized cultural heritage collections.  PI:  B. Sandore; co-PI’s:  N. Bennett, B. Jones.


h. Pending:

·         Digital Emblematica:  IMLS Collections Digitization (Library)

The University of Illinois Library proposes to digitize and provide Web-based, searchable access to the emblems in almost 70 German-language emblem books in the Library’s Rare Book and Special Collections Library. In doing so, we propose to make new contributions in several areas.  The first objective is to digitize on-site and to make searchable and freely accessible via the Web entire emblem books. The second objective includes the creation of two types of metadata to provide both title- and emblem-level access to these materials. The types of metadata include MARC cataloging records for each of the titles, (which will be linked at the title level with the digital version of the book) as well as a Dublin Core Qualified record for every emblem book, that is, for each emblem image and its accompanying texts in each of the books.  In addition, we propose to ensure that the metadata will would be harvested using the OAI-PMH, enabling an even broader discovery and retrieval of the emblems. The third objective is the creation of a prototype digital German-English vocabulary that will facilitate the cross-language searching of the described emblems and could serve as a basis for the development of future multi-lingual digital thesauri. We are collaborating with the Herzog August Bibliothek, Germany to develop guidelines for the creation of this prototype so that we can test how the metadata and the vocabulary can be both harvested and shared among other organizations. PI:  B. Sandore; co-PI’s: N. Bennett, M. Wade, T. Kilton. 


·         A More Perfect Union :  A Multimedia Digital Library of Radical Antebellum Journals (Liberal Arts & Sciences, Library)

Humanities faculty and UIUC librarians have collaborated to write an NEH grant proposal, proposing a new architecture using NLP technologies to facilitate scholarly annotation.  PI. B Rosenstock, Co-PI S. Hartnett, K. Wilson (UMinn), S. Zaeske (UWisc-Madison).



3.      Organization and Access:


a.      Open Archives Initiative Based Projects and Research (Library, GSLIS, NCSA)

The University of Illinois Library is actively involved in further developing and researching the use of the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (PMH). Originally developed to allow interoperability among diverse e-print archives, the OAI-PMH provides a low-barrier technical framework that facilitates the discovery of the ”hidden web”—those resources contained within databases, finding aids, and XML documents. Simply put, the OAI-PMH divides the world into two categories: data providers who expose metadata about digital or analog resources through the protocol, and service providers who harvest the exposed metadata from one or more providers and build services, such as search portals, for this aggregated metadata.  Through the UIUC data provider site, the Library exposes metadata describing digitized image resources, archival finding aids, and a sheet music collection. As a service provider, it offers the UIUC Digital Gateway to Cultural Heritage Materials at and the Grainger Engineering Library OAI Portal for engineering, computer science, and physics documents. UIUC Library faculty and staff serve on the OAI Technical Committee and deliver numerous presentations and workshops on OAI. In addition, they have developed several open-source tools, which are available through SourceForge (  Today, active projects at UIUC Library that incorporate the OAI-PMH include:


b. Illinois Open Archives Metadata Harvesting Project

Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2001 to create and implement a suite of OAI-based harvesting tools and a search portal for metadata describing archive collections and digitized cultural heritage material. The UIUC Digital Gateway to Cultural Heritage Materials ( offers access to approximately 1.1 million records harvested from 39 institutions ranging from academic libraries to museums.   PI:  Timothy Cole; co-PI’s:  W. Mischo, T. Habing, B. Sandore.  September 2001 – August, 2002, $180,000.


c. Second Generation Digital Mathematics Resources

Funded by the National Science Foundation, UIUC Library faculty are working with researchers from Wolfram Research, Inc., and faculty from the UIUC Department of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics to develop second-generation capabilities for two digital libraries to support mathematics, engineering, physics, and applied sciences education. Metadata has been harvested from Eric Weisstein's World of Mathematics (MathWorld) site ( and Wolfram Research's Mathematical Functions site ( and exposed via the OAI-PMH for inclusion in the National Science Digital Library (  PI: William Mischo;  co-PI’s: T. Cole, H. Aref, M. Trott, E.W. Weisstein.  September 15, 2002 – August 31, 2004.  $796,689; Award # 0226327.


d. IMLS Digital Collections and Content (

Through its National Leadership Grants program, the Institute of Museum and Library Services is enabling the development of hundreds of significant new digital collections. In September 2002, IMLS awarded the University of Illinois a National Leadership Grant for a three-year research project to promote the visibility, adaptability, and interoperability of IMLS digital collections. A collaborative effort between the UIUC Library and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, the primary goals of the IMLS Digital Collections and Content project are to create a registry of digital collections funded by the IMLS between 1998 and 2005, implement a search and discovery system for item-level content in these collections using OAI-PMH and research best practices for interoperability among diverse digital content and for supporting the interests of diverse user communities.  PI:  T. Cole; co-PI’s:  M. Twidale (GSLIS), C. Palmer (GSLIS), W. Mischo, N. Bennett; Project Coordinator:  S. Shreeves.  October 1, 2002-Sept. 30, 2005.   $499,440.  IMLS  Award #LG-02-02-0281-02.


e. Yellow Brick Roads: Developing a Digital Shortcut to Statewide Information for Illinois

UIUC Library is collaborating with the Illinois State Library to investigate OAI-PMH as a means of enhancing the Find-It! Illinois search portal (  PI: J. Kaczmarek; co-PI: C. Chiat Naun. Nov. ‘02– Jun ‘03.  $34,300. Funding:  Library Services and Technology Act, Illinois State Library.




The Grainger Library Engineering, Computer Science, and Physics OAI-based federated search
and discovery system
regularly harvests over twenty sites and serves as a component of the Grainger Simultaneous Search
Aid system.  PI:  W. Mischo; co-PI, T. Habing.  $350,000; 1998-2001.  Program/Funding source:  Corporation for
National Research Initiatives; Grainger Information Center Endowment. 



has been designated to host an OAI metadata harvesting service for CIC-related digital
The purpose of the harvesting is to improve access to selected resources at CIC
member libraries, advertise these resources within CIC and to potential users outside the CIC,
prepare member institutions for future grant-mandated OAI-based resource sharing, and serve
as a useful testbed for future grant-funded projects. OAI Protocol for Metadata
Harvesting (OAI-PMH) also offers a way to reinvent the CIC's Virtual Electronic Library (VEL) in order to unlock the hidden
web of resources that are available at CIC institutions. PI: T.W. Cole, July 1, 2003 - June 30, 2006. $156,000. Funding: CIC member libraries (10).