Friday, September 15, 2006

NSDL Catalog

The new National Science Digital Library catalog (institutional repository in reality) seems to get the 2.0 thing.
We are standing at a dramatic pivot-point for NSDL. Until now, the library was a collection of catalog records, pointing to exemplary STEM resources on the web. With the introduction of our new Fedora-based NSDL Data Repository (NDR) on October 1st, the library becomes a repository and focal point for content, context, contribution, and collaboration, for everyone interested in STEM education, from K-gray.

The NDR allows us to integrate the full range of Web 2.0 tools, such as wikis, blogs, and community tagging, into the framework of the library, allowing users to classify, organize, annotate, and create library resources. Moreover, it supports the integration of new tools, such as electronic lab notebooks and course management systems, specialized for the needs of scientists, engineers, teachers, and students. With the NDR, every annotation of, reference to, or search of library resources by any user will add to the context and value of the library resources for all our users.

As a technologist, my view of the technology path is clear: we can build these tools, and we can create a dynamic living library of science, to the benefit of everyone. But the really exciting and daunting challenge is at the interface of the technical and the social. The tools must support the needs of the STEM education community, and they must do so very, very well. With the right tools and the wealth of available resources, we can succeed in creating passionate users of the NSDL. If the tools and capabilities aren't right-- well, to paraphrase Mark Twain, it will be like the difference between the iPod and the I plod.

Fortunately, I am an optimist. I believe that we have to tools, the momentum, and the community to make NSDL a new, vibrant, and transformative digital library, and a critical resource for everyone who teaches, uses, or learns about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. By issue 200 of Whiteboard Report, I think that the world will agree.

I'm looking forward to seeing what it looks like on October 1.

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