$4 Million Grant Aims to Place Libraries Online

by Robert Sanders

Berkeley has received a $4 million federal grant to develop and test new technologies to put "digital libraries" on the information highway.

The techniques developed eventually would be used to make books and research materials from any library available via the Internet, an electronic highway that reaches around the world.

The project is funded through a joint initiative of the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and NASA.

Researchers at Berkeley plan to set up an electronic library of state documents dealing with the California environment, primarily to test the technology the Berkeley group will develop.

The documents will include not only environmental impact statements and reports, but also photos, videos, computer models, county general plans, maps, and databases of environmental information.

According to project leader Robert Wilensky, professor and chair of the division of computer science, access will be set up initially through the World Wide Web, a system of networks that allows access (via Mosaic, for example) to text, pictures, sound, and video.

Eventually, he and his colleagues plan to make the information available via a more powerful, database-oriented client-server system.

The focus of the overall federal project is to find better ways to collect, store, and organize information in digital forms, and make it available for searching, retrieval, and processing via communication networks--all in user-friendly ways.

Berkeley's partners and collaborators include Xerox Corp., Resources Agency of California, California State Library, Sonoma County Library, San Diego Association of Governments, Plumas Corp., Shasta County Office of Education, and Hewlett Packard.

Working with Wilensky are Michael Stonebraker, Richard Fateman and Jitendra Malik, faculty in the division of computer science; and Michael Buckland, Ray Larson, and Nancy van House of the School of Library and Information Studies.


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