World Wide Web Digital Library System

Heinrich C. Kuhn kuhn at
Mon Mar 4 10:46:57 EST 1996

I'd like to comment on *part* of what C. W. Tazewell
wrote on Sat, 2 Mar 1996 11:06:37 -0800:

>         The typical Internet user does not have the time,
>         patience, or skill to "surf the Web."  He needs
>         things organized in a convenient place to save him
>         time and frustration.  Most would not need to go
>         any further than his local digital library.

I'm not sure whether we know what "The typical Internet user"
is like, but it certainly is true, that all internet users
need means to find out where the information they are looking
for is. 

>      Theoretically (but only in theory) all Web Sites could be
> linked at one master worldwide WWW site.  Obviously, this would
> overburden long-distance circuits.

I agree: The future may be not in *just one* "Global Server for
pointers to everything": The *WWW virtual library* has regional
branches already now, Search Engines like *Alta Vista* and *Lycos*
are not (at least not yet) adapted to permit easy serches for material
in non-latin characters, and for libraries based on paper we
have *several* consortia's catalogues (like the OCLC World Cat,
like the German VK94 etc.). This works, and it remains flexible
enough to serve regional preferences for certain types and standards
of cataloguing where any attempt for something like a "Global
Catalogue for all Libraries' Holdings in the Whole World using
a Unified Cataloguing Format for Anything" probably would be
something one would have to wait for for a *very* long time.
   A like approach to "cataloguing" ressources on the net might
be a good solution as well. 

>      The World Central WWW Digital Library Site would be

   I don't quite know, what you think this "World Central WWW 
Digital Library Site" of the future should be like. The Net
has hitherto worked well without too much centralism. A way
of doing "combined" searches in several "catalogues" of 
ressources might be sufficient.

> mirrored to Regional Digital Libraries.  A large country would
> have a number of Regional Digital Library sites, and some
> countries would only have one, or be served by a nearby one.
>      To supplement this there would be metropolitan/community
> digital libraries in each local area.  They would have the most
> important function of providing local data and information to the
> rest of the world.  They would also bring in the rest of the
> world through links to the nearest Regional Digital Library.

I'm not sure, whether *geography* is that important. For some
types of information it seems reasonable to "catalogue" them
regionally (e.g. for indices on hotels and restaurants, for
some types of yellow pages, etc.). For other types of infor-
mation however distributions according to subject areas might
be more appropriate - like today for texts published on paper:
NLM does at good job at indexing, "cataloguing" medical texts
and the CAS at indexing, "cataloguing" chemistry texts - from
(at least potentially) all over the world. The same holds true
for what special libraries do for monographs.

   Today's situation with regional and local and world wide
specialised indexing and cataloguing of lots of "conventional"
and more and more "non-conventional" material is not a simple
situation, and it probably will become an even more compex 
situation in the future. Global, regional, local endeavours:
all of them probably will be needed to cope.


Heinrich C. Kuhn
*  Dr. Heinrich C. Kuhn   (coordinator libraries)
*  Max-Planck-Gesellschaft / Generalverwaltung IIb3
*  Postfach 10 10 62
*  D-80084 Muenchen
*  voice: +49-89-2108 1563
*  fax:   +49-89-2108 1565
*  eMail: hck at   or
*          kuhn at

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