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Information retrieval in the age of Internet search engines has become part of ordinary discourse and everyday practice: “Google” is a verb in common usage. Thus far, more attention has been given to practical understanding of information retrieval than to a full theoretical account.

The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship

Questions about access to scholarship go back farther than recent debates over subscription prices, rights, and electronic archives suggest. The great libraries of the past—from the fabled collection at Alexandria to the early public libraries of nineteenth-century America—stood as arguments for increasing access. In The Access Principle, John Willinsky describes the latest chapter in this ongoing story—online open access publishing by scholarly journals—and makes a case for open access as a public good.

Instant electronic access to digital information is the single most distinguishing attribute of the information age. The elaborate retrieval mechanisms that support such access are a product of technology. But technology is not enough. The effectiveness of a system for accessing information is a direct function of the intelligence put into organizing it. Just as the practical field of engineering has theoretical physics as its underlying base, the design of systems for organizing information rests on an intellectual foundation.

Computer Support for Building Collaborative Knowledge

Innovative uses of global and local networks of linked computers make new ways of collaborative working, learning, and acting possible. In Group Cognition Gerry Stahl explores the technological and social reconfigurations that are needed to achieve computer-supported collaborative knowledge building—group cognition that transcends the limits of individual cognition.

Experiment and Evaluation in Information Retrieval

The Text REtrieval Conference (TREC), a yearly workshop hosted by the US government's National Institute of Standards and Technology, provides the infrastructure necessary for large-scale evaluation of text retrieval methodologies. With the goal of accelerating research in this area, TREC created the first large test collections of full-text documents and standardized retrieval evaluation. The impact has been significant; since TREC's beginning in 1992, retrieval effectiveness has approximately doubled.

Bringing the World Wide Web to Its Full Potential

As the World Wide Web continues to expand, it becomes increasingly difficult for users to obtain information efficiently. Because most search engines read format languages such as HTML or SGML, search results reflect formatting tags more than actual page content, which is expressed in natural language.

Rethinking the Digital Divide

Much of the discussion about new technologies and social equality has focused on the oversimplified notion of a "digital divide." Technology and Social Inclusion moves beyond the limited view of haves and have-nots to analyze the different forms of access to information and communication technologies. Drawing on theory from political science, economics, sociology, psychology, communications, education, and linguistics, the book examines the ways in which differing access to technology contributes to social and economic stratification or inclusion.

Social Practice in Design and Evaluation

The contributors to this volume view digital libraries (DLs) from a social as well as technological perspective. They see DLs as sociotechnical systems, networks of technology, information artifacts, and people and practices interacting with the larger world of work and society.

On Research Libraries is the formal report of the Committee on Research Libraries, appointed and sponsored by the American Council of Learned Societies in 1967. The Committee, formed to investigate the problems facing research libraries, created a list of recommendations in the areas of national library policy, copyright, and technology, along with supporting reports.

Edited by Ralph W. Conant

The public library as a "community facility dedicated to. .

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