The following post is part of a series about personalization of digital libraries. Please click below to read further:
Personalized Information Environments
Personalized Information Environments (PIE), in a digital library, is a framework that provides a set of integrated tools based on an individual user’s requirements and interests with respect to access to library materials (Jayawardana, 2001, 187). These tools integrate the user’s personal library and a remote digital library.
Lynne Davis, lead user interface designer of the Digital Library for Earth System Education, explains:
Personalization in the context of a digital library is the degree to which the library [user interface] assists the user in populating their own personal “space” with library assets. This might be an online environment connected in some way to the library (and potentially other “spaces” created by that user) where they would store and manage items of particular interest to them and an environment where those data can be combined in specific ways defined by that user for their personal use. The products of their efforts may or may not be shareable, controlled by that user. This can be approached at many levels of complexity (personal communication, June 28, 2007).
Users perform active consuming activities, such as reading, watching, and listening when accessing multimedia library materials by using tools in PIE. Therefore, they can build personalized views on those materials while turning them into an easy-to-use reference collection. When information gathering, users may create their own documents by integrating selected segments of library materials with their own comments. These segments would be text, images, audio, or video depending on the original source. When completed, a personal library is used to maintain these new documents on top of digital library materials.
An integrated interface of the personal library and the digital library in PIE then allows users to organize and modify the library materials according to their needs. Since the digital library is a vast, ever-growing collection of materials, it is necessary to include services such as filtering and retrieval tools. Users are then able to seek suitable library materials more easily.
There are two types of personalization involved in PIEs (Voorhees, et. al, 1995, 173). Material personalization corresponds to facilities for users to use documents according to their individual requirements such as active consuming and information gathering. Technically, it describes the customization of multimedia library materials to define suitable views and how selected media segments from multimedia objects become part of their notated documents. Collection personalization, on the other hand, captures the user’s context and interest from the material personalization in order to provide a personalized view of the organization of digital library. Collection personalization, then, includes personalized filtering and personalized retrieving (French & Vales 1999). In PIE, these two schemas of personalization benefit each other by creating the cycle of interaction.
There are four central conceptual requirements that embody the PIEs: customizability, effective search, sharability, and privacy. PIEs should have tools that allow users to easily design and customize what they want to view. The building process is iterative. One can select a group of resources, send a query, evaluate the results, and then make adjustments. The PIE would have auxiliary information such as topic maps or resource summaries that allow users to better select resources. Users still want effective search capabilities, so a PIE must dynamically alter its context as resources are added or removed. PIEs should be also sharable. Since there may be considerable effort expended in building a PIE, it is logical that they might be shared and re-used. The original builder might design a core PIE and then add a small number of resources for particular tasks. The PIE might be used by a number of people with interests in the same area or who are working on the same project together. Sharing could be through reference to a single PIE or through copying. Sharability also implies access control. For a variety of reasons, a PIE owner may want to control access. The owner may have paid a fee to some of the constituent resources in order to gain access, or the PIE may be related to a proprietary or otherwise sensitive task. From the searcher's point of view, protection of usage and query patterns may be important.