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Content Analysis of Academic Departmental Homepages

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  • Gerry Mckiernan
    Content Analysis of Academic Departmental Homepages As a science reference librarian and bibliographer [Yes, I do have a real job, (and a wife, three kids,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 7, 1998
      Content Analysis of Academic Departmental Homepages

      As a science reference librarian and bibliographer [Yes, I do have a real job, (and a wife, three kids, mortgage, etc. [:->], I seek to maintain an understanding of the information needs of my clientele as well as the research interests of the faculty and staff I serve in the selection of materials that will best support their research interests.

      Last year, in an effort to gain a better understanding of such interests, I identified and reviewed the Web pages of my liaison departments as well as the official individual homepages of each member of a department, e.g. Aeronautical Engineering. My immersion and digestion of this formal information, has been of greay benefit in identifying and selecting materials for purchase for our library collection [This knowledge has been most useful in decisions realating to the purchase of more expensive engineering monographs and proceedings].

      At one point, I considered tabulating the interests of my departmental faculty into a spread- sheet as a formal aid for assisting in the decision process for retrospective purchases as well as future considerations. However, in a recent revisit to my project on the use of Intelligent Software Agents for library applications, it occurred to me that an ideal application of Agent Technology for collection development for libraries would be one in which Agents analyze the contents of departmental homepages and generate a group user profile department based upon a synthesis of the expressed (and possibly implicit or latent) collective research interests.

      With such a collective user profile, one could now consider using it as a Mega Search Statement that another agent would use to search the Web, local (or remote) licensed index and abstract databases, other OPACs, etc. to identify relevant resources for subsequent consideration for selection and purchase and/or incorporation within the local 'collection'. Of course, we would want the ability to instruct the Content Agent so that we would be able to be selective in a choice of a department an/or to specify the type of electronic database for a subsequent search by the Search Agent.

      One would of course wish to manage that agents such that one could massage the results of each agent such that results could be organized according to professional judgment.

      It would be hope that the results could in turn be used to identify the deficiencies of the local 'collection'. For example, to identify those e-journals that best 'suit' the interests of a department, or to identify key Web resources that would serve the interests of a department or a rsearch group within a department.

      One could also imagine providing an alerting service to which a faculty member could subscribe that would provide them with a Mega Current Awareness Service of newly discovered items. [One could indeed consider using another agent, a Feedback Agent, that in turn could provide a Real Time update to each and every faculty members interests based upon their selection and use of selected resources]

      In planning for the formal establishment of my clearinghouse devoted to the use of Agents for collection development, reference as well as technical services, called _Library Agents(sm)_ {:->], I would be interested in learning about any efforts envisioned, as well as those related to it. BTW: The address for Library Agents(sm) is:


      Currently, this site has a fuller description of the Larger Project, as well as links to key Agent clearinghouses.

      [I am aware of the various e-mail alerting services offered by publishers (e.g., Elsevier, IOP) and information services (e.,g EBSCO, ISI) and would appreciate learning about any compendium of such Agent-based services as basic background for Library Agents(sm).]

      As Always, Any and All citations, sources, contributions, critiques, questions, concerns, comments, or queries are Most Welcome!


      Gerry McKiernan Curator, CyberStacks(sm) Iowa State University Ames IA 50011

      gerrymck@... http://www.public.iastate.edu/~CYBERSTACKS/

      "The Best Way to Predict the Future is To Invent It" Attributed to Peter Drucker
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