Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Digital Libraries and Personalization Part 2 of 5

The following post is part of a series about personalization of digital libraries. Please click below to read further:

Part 1
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Personalized Digital Library Example

The International Children’s Digital Library is one DL with several personalization features to note:

• The library account feature allows users to identify preferences for their default search collection, interface language and search tool, either Simple or Advanced.

• The library interface permits users to choose their language and search tool preferences. A user can personalize the library interface without creating a library account; however, these preferences will not be remembered without an account and would have to be reset each time the user accesses the library.

• The book readers, in some cases, allow users to personalize how they view books by selecting specific book readers, such as standard HTML. For books with higher security levels, choosing a different reader may not be an option. The reader interface is not something that can be preset through a library account. Users who want to view books in anything other than the standard reader must select the reader they want to use each time they access a book.

• Personal bookshelves are spaces where users can gather their favorite books for future use. These personal bookshelves could be created on a theme, if that is useful to the user, but books are generally selected for their individual characteristics that catch a user’s interest.

Amy Datsko of The International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL) states, “it might be possible for the ICDL to develop personalized retrieval tools that update users’ bookshelves based on previous queries, but that is not in our immediate plans. It would also be an interesting option to include functionality whereby the library learns the context of a user’s search history in order to recommend other materials that might meet the user’s needs” (personal communication, June 22, 2007).

DL Research

The initial focus of DL research and application was on increasing digital content, basic DL services, metadata standards, interoperability, and rights management. The first generation of DLs provided a small set of services to relatively well-prepared and knowledgeable user communities. Later, many applications of personalization in DLs have focused on applying basic personalization and rudimentary recommender systems. Though it is important to provide a means of personalization to users in order to help them deal with information resources more efficiently and effectively, realizing personalization concepts is a difficult task in a highly diverse and distributed information environment.

Some research has focused on the negative aspects of DLs in regards to personalization. For many DLs, there is a general lack of personalization in accessing the information (Renda & Straccia, 2005) and (Brusilovsky & al., 2005). For instance, users are commonly treated similarly, even though they have different information needs and interests (Mizzaro & Tasso, 2002). Other studies found that resources are not integrated, which forces users to repeat the same queries in different systems (Rao & al., 1995). Yet another problem is the lack of information services capable of detecting among the large amount of new available information only the information relevant for the single specific user, without the need of explicitly requesting for it or formulating precise search queries. Larsen (1997) notes the need for alternative methods of looking at searches because the increasing size of online information assures that increasing numbers of documents fit the query criteria. A query that once yielded tens of hits now yields hundreds. In addition, most DLs are unable to search subsets of collections and to merge the accompanying results. Duplicate detection, while an active area of research, still needs to be further developed (Gravano & al., 1996).

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