We had been investigating the possibility of producing some sort of application, possibly for the iPhone/iPad... but there are a couple of distinct disadvantages to that approach. Firstly, we'd need to obtain and retain the knowledge to support application development - or contract for someone to do that work. Secondly, we'd only be improving access on a small sub-set of the main mobile devices available.
With that understanding, we pursued investigation into providing better access for mobile devices to our website. CISTI is an institute of the National Research Council - an agency of the federal government, and hence obliged to meet federal government CLF standards for websites. Fitting our full featured CLF site into a mobile screen size was essentially impossible. Moreover, very few federal government mobile websites exist - and those that do seem to be older WAP-based sites designed before the advent of modern smartphones.
Further investigation revealed that the current best practice is to create simplified and separate dedicated mobile website in these cases - reducing the content and services to their core - and offering clients the option of using either the full regular site, or the mobile site as desired.
That said, the site attempts to meet the spirit of federal government CLF policy (branding, look and feel, accessibility and bilingualism) - but could not actually follow the established guidelines as they are based on desktop oriented browsers, and monitors.
Armed with this knowledge, a prototype was created using JQuery Mobile and the beginnings of code to connect with the Metalib API. This prototype was intended to gauge the amount of effort that would be required to produce a fully functioning mobile website - and to demonstrate the concept to interested stakeholders. Development of a functional prototype took far less time than expected, and demonstrated that a mobile website was achievable with minimal effort. Further, the prototype was able to demonstrate that we could create a single mobile website suitable for most common and modern versions of iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices.
Most library mobile websites provide contact/location information, hours of operation, access to search the library catalogue, and often - particularly in the case of academic libraries - reserves, holding information, course notes, etc.
CISTI, as usual, is different in this regard. We are not, particularly, a conventional lending library, nor an academic library, and the resources of most interest to our clients (and particularly the research staff of the National Research Council) are the licensed electronic access to scientific and technical articles. A simple search of the Catalogue would not do. Hence, we focused our effort towards providing access to search across large sets of scientific articles in addition to our library catalogue and local institutional repositories. Though the Metalib x-server api, we were able to construct queries and receive results from any sets of licenced and local resources required - and format those results to make them suitable for display in most mobile devices. Taking advantage of Metalib means having to code this once - and having mobile access to all of our available search resources.
Location and contact information (phone, maps) are something that most mobile devices support very well - and we thought it would be a useful (and easy) addition to the content of the mobile site.
Further, links to CISTI's Twitter, Facebook, the ubiquitous "about us" pages, and a link to CISTI's full website were included.
We've recently released a new website for CISTI - reorganizing some things in conjunction with the CISTI Transformation and the changes in document delivery services.
Externally, the website has changed it's structure - and is still transitioning as the rollout of the new partnership for document delivery proceeds. That said, essentially the same services and content remain available. We've added a new metasearch function - that we hope will simplify things - particularly hoping to simplify the answer to the question "Does CISTI have this?" Now you should be able to find out - in one place.
Internally, things have changed significantly. In the past, CISTI provided a separate portal dubbed the "Virtual Library" for the exclusive use of NRC. We have merged the functionality of this portal with our main website - http://cisti-icist.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca - such that IP recognized persons (or those using our NRC proxy server) will see many more options including the ability to browse and search licensed and free e-journals, databases and other resources, librarian authored subject guides, and have an assortment of federated search options. Integrating the ILS/Catalogue, metasearch, and CISTI-hosted databases (Discover and NPArC) is CISTI's link resolution service Find@CISTI - now finally being used essentially EVERYWHERE there's a bibliographic citation presented on the website.
Presently, we're working to improve the site, and to release (finally) a version of the LibX Toolbar for NRC Staff - that I hope will bring the capabilities of the library more readily available for researchers in their work.
OpenURL in CISTI Discover and NPArc permit recognized users to connect with their libraries link resolver to get a list of appropriate full text content and other information services. In the case of NRC staff, they will be recognized and directed to the NRC-CISTI link resolver to be directed to electronic content held or licensed on their behalf, or alternately to the means to search for and procure that content. Others (not NRC) are presently directed to a default link resolver that provides a wide variety of choices and options.
COInS (ContextObjects in SPANS) help applications, such as the browser plug-ins LibX and Zotero, to recognize the citation information and to provide users options such as saving/bookmarking the references.
CISTI has launched the NRC Publications Archive (NPArC) providing access to a large portion of the research output of the National Research Council. Already there is a significant set of documents available. From the notice:
"NPArC (pronounced N-Park) houses research papers for refereed
journals, peer-reviewed conferences and technical reports that NRC
researchers produce each year. It also guarantees long-term access to
this research — serving as a valuable resource for NRC researchers,
collaborators and the public. NPArC currently includes 35,000
publication records from 17 NRC institutes, along with 5,000 full-text
publications from four of these institutes. And, over the course of
this year, CISTI will be translating all new abstracts into both
To support the initiative, NRC has established a policy effective January 2009 making it mandatory to deposit copies of all peer-reviewed, NRC-authored publications and technical reports in NPARC. The NRC License to Publish (Crown Copyright) form has been updated to support this requirement.
CISTI is sponsoring the ICSTI 2009 Conference June 9-10 in Ottawa.
research data is essential for effective collaboration. Few scientists,
however, have the time or resources to ensure sustainable access to
data for joint projects, domain-specific applications or re-use.
The ICSTI 2009 conference will examine how researchers, librarians and
publishers can work together to create structures for managing and
communicating scientific data."
The University of Toronto, Simula Research Laboratory, and the National Research Council are collaborating on an international survey to find out more about how scientists develop and use software in their research. Results will be published in American Scientist magazine in 2009.
If you have 20 minutes to take part, please go to:
I'm pleased to announce the publication of my first paper. Essentially it's a discussion of my experience with the EA and SOA implementation process at CISTI over these past few years. From the introduction:
seek new roles in the digital realm, libraries are finding it increasingly
difficult to manage the complexity of technology implementation while
continuing to cost-effectively meet their mandates as information providers. Many
organizations find themselves dealing with legacy, isolated, duplicated and
ineffective information systems. The practices of enterprise architecture and
service oriented architecture hold much promise as methodologies to reduce
complexity, to encourage and enable collaborations, and finally to rein in the
beast of technology. Even libraries under budgetary constraints can benefit
from knowledge of enterprise architecture and service oriented architecture
Anthony, Stephen K. "Implementing Service Oriented Architecture at the Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information." The Serials Librarian, 55(01-02), pp. 235 - 253.
There was a much more involved than I first imagined, and it took much more time than I expected. However, it's done, and it's in print - and I'm doing the happy dance. I hope it will be of interest to members of the library community who are starting service oriented related initiatives, are interested in CISTI's activities in this area, or who just want to know more about the area of SOA in libraries generally.
I want to convey my eternal thanks to Karen Morgenroth, Jim Cole the Editor-in-Chief, Daping Tan, Richard Akerman, Jane Carbone, and my wife Tammy for helping me with this project, and for putting up with me generally.
As noted by Richard, and amplified by MichaelGeist and Peter Suber - The National Research Council (NRC) of Canada's Senior Executive Committee (SEC) has mandated that effective January 2009, all deposit copies of all peer-reviewed publications (articles,
proceedings, books, book chapters) and technical reports produced by NRC will require deposit in the NRC Publication Archive (known as NPArC).
Wherever possible, NPArC will provide access to the full text of
these publications. NRC's License to Publish (Crown Copyright) will be
updated to declare its intent to deposit the full-text of NRC-authored
publications in NPArC. However, the nature, timing and extent of access
to individual publications depends on a variety of factors, including
agreements with publishers, or in the case of technical reports the
sensitivity or confidentiality of content.
As the architect for the NPArC project, I'm proud to see some movement forward by NRC on the difficult legal and policy issues for this initiative. The technology is one thing, but as has been demonstrated time and again, the true hurdles with institutional repositories are less technical, and more human in origin.
That said... just a bit of the technology/architecture: The NPArC project is intending to piggy-back on our ongoing Trusted Digital Repository (TDR) project that CISTI has been working on for the past while. The TDR is, among other things, CISTI's solution to moving forward with SOA-based article-level content and metadata management. The TDR - based broadly on the OAIS reference model - is intended to handle tens of millions of bibliographic records and articles - and is planned to be CISTI's primary article-level storage and management infrastructure. It's much more than NPArC itself needs - but it's planned that TDR will be supporting a number of other CISTI offerings and services as well.
I've been fooling with library toolsbars, sidebars, web and widgets for awhile now... and a few months back I'd resigned myself to finally getting around to doing a LibX library toolbar for CISTI. I'd even gotten a mostly-working version done a few months back. At the end of last week I decided it was time to finish. Lo and behold, I go to the LibX site and discover the wonder that is the LibX Edition Builder! Holy moly, it's just wonderful. Within 15 minutes I had a working toolbar for CISTI. Of course the details and testing tool a day or so, but I finally think I've gotten a version decent enough to make live and public.
This version is intended mainly for staff of the National Research Council - CISTI's parent organization - but I imagine it would still be useful for most CISTI patrons.