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Defrosting the Digital Library

Hull, D., Pettifer, S. R., & Kell, D. B. (2008). Defrosting the digital library: Bibliographic tools for the next generation web. PLoS Computational Biology, 4(10), e1000204. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000204

The authors evaluated key "digital libraries" (a very squishy term as used in this article) for computational biologists: PubMed, IEEE Xplore, ACM Digital Library, ISI Web of Knowledge, Scopus, Citeseer, arXiv, DBLP (Digital Bibliography & Library Project), and Google Scholar. Their main focus is "searching and organizing literature data together with their metadata." They identify three major problems with digital libraries as they are now: the lack of a uniform way to identify online publications, the frequency with which article files are not associated with their metadata, and the lack of standards in metadata (including URIs). They described some tools that help address these problems: Zotero.org, Mendeley, MyNCBI, Mekentosj Papers, CiteULike.org, Connotea.org, and HubMed.org. The best of these offer personalization, the ability for users to have their own collections of literature and citations, and socialization, the ability to share their libraries and see what others are sharing. However, none of them are perfect. They recommend simplifying URIs and making them persistent, exposing metadata, and developing and using uniform ways of identifying publications, specifically URNs, and people (as both authors and users of digital libraries).