Homeland digital library planned

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.

Justice 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.

Patrice McDermott, assistant director of the American Library Association's Office of Government Relations, said it sounds like a good idea to gather together this information, but she encouraged the school to open the library to the public if the data it provides is unclassified.

"I can understand initially that perhaps they might want to do some beta testing with federal users," McDermott said. "But ideally it should be open to the public and I would urge them to do that."

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" the school could use because there was no taxonomy for homeland security, she said.

A taxonomy shows the correlation among terms that are used by a community of practice.

When it came time to create and refine the taxonomy for the library, the school choose a manual approach. Eventually the site will become more automated and integrated with other functions, such as a search and retrieval system.

One of the tools that the school used to build the library under a tight budget was MAIstro from Data Harmony Inc., to create and manage the taxonomy and perform automatic indexing.

MAIstro is something "that any organization that has a set of documents to keep in order would use," said Scott Roberts, the product's software designer at Data Harmony.

A challenge of creating a taxonomy is keeping all the terms straight. "A taxonomy is used to keep the indexing consistent across a lot of documents," Roberts said. "The software keeps your taxonomy in order."

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