Digital homeland library readied

The Naval Postgraduate School plans to launch a digital library by June, offering up research on homeland security issues.

The library will be open to students at the school, employees of the departments of Justice and Homeland Security, and likely other federal agencies as well, said Lillian Gassie, head of technical services and systems at the Naval Postgraduate School Dudley Knox Library.

The Justice Department had asked the school to develop a homeland security curriculum and an associated library. The library will focus on homeland security policy and planning issues to match what the curriculum offers, Gassie said.

Visitors to the library will be able to choose from a list of major categories, such as border security, intelligence analysis and asymmetric warfare, that will lead them to associated terms and research.

The data in the library is gleaned from locally held documents, public repositories, and commercial and agency data sources, and eventually will come from the Internet and other additional sources. "We're looking to collaborate with people to add more data," Gassie said.

When it came to building the library, organization was crucial, Gassie said.

The school started by identifying experts in specialized domains, the associated homeland security terms and buzzwords, and their relationship, Gassie said April 15 at the E-Gov Knowledge Management conference in Washington, D.C. The event was sponsored by E-Gov, part of FCW Media Group.

"We looked at what's out there and identified existing taxonomies" that the school could use because there was no taxonomy for homeland security, she said.

A taxonomy shows the correlation among terms used by a community of practice. It also supports site navigation, search engines and knowledge maps.

When it came time to create and refine the taxonomy for the library, the school choose a manual approach — the terms are added manually to the metadata fields, for example — partly because funding was coming in gradually, preventing the school from taking a "big bang" approach to systems development, Gassie said.

Eventually the site will become more automated and integrated with other functions, such as a search and retrieval system.

Some of the tools that the school used to build the library under a tight budget include:

* MAIstro from Data Harmony Inc., to create and manage the taxonomy and perform automated indexing;

* Sirsi Rooms from Sirsi Corp., to build and organize the portal; and

* Scout Portal Toolkit open-source software from the University of Wisconsin, to build a digital library.

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