Friday, June 11, 2004

The National Science Foundation's Massive Digital Library for Education: Opportunities and Challenges for Teachers and Librarians This is a good write up off the National Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education Digital Library (NSDL) program.

From the site:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) released its first call for proposals for the National Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education Digital Library (NSDL) program early in 2000. Building on work supported under the multi-agency Digital Libraries Initiative, this program aims to establish a national digital library that will constitute an online network of learning environments and resources for science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education at all levels.


Fiscal year 1994 marked the beginning of the Digital Libraries Initiative (DLI), a multi-agency research effort involving the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). NSF served as the lead agency in this program that provided support for basic research into the transformative potential of information technology as applied to library and information science.

Six multi-year projects were funded in the first four years, featuring collaborations of researchers and users from a variety of organizations, including leading universities, state agencies, secondary schools, prominent libraries and museums, the publishing community, government laboratories, and the computer and communications industry. In a brief note in Educom Review, Paul Evan Peters (1995) provided very short summaries of these projects; but more importantly he posited the term "digital library" as the logical replacement for what Peters called two prior terms of art: the "electronic library," with its basic "bits on silicon rather than ink on paper" concept, and the "virtual library," as captured in the idea of "not only what you own but what you have access to." (It bears mentioning that this same early to mid-1990s time period also marked the emergence of the first text-based browsers, which were followed very quickly by graphical browsers.)

In 1995 initial thinking about digital libraries for science education began with an internal concept paper for the NSF Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE), and the concepts were developed and informed by a series of workshops and accompanying reports (Manduca & Mogk, 1999; NRC, 1998, 1999; NSF, 1998, 1999a, 1999b). By FY98 the initial DLI had gained more partner agencies and under the umbrella of a new DLI-2 effort, a prototype program was conducted for two years to explore the application of digital library research to undergraduate science education test beds. Spurred by both enthusiasm from the broad educational community and both the legislative and executive branches for the promise of digital libraries to enable improvements in education, the formal NSDL program ( was established in 2000.

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