Lancaster Presents Digital Libraries Lecture


Lewis LancasterSIS is pleased to announce that Lewis Lancaster will be featured at the Digital Libraries Colloquium, scheduled for Wednesday, February 14, 2007.  Dr. Lancaster will discuss “Support for the Learner:  Digital Reference to What, Where, When, Who” during his presentation which begins at 12:00 noon in Room 501 of the IS Building.

Dr. Lancaster, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, serves as the Director of the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative (ECAI).  The ECAI is a global digital atlas of historical and cultural resources developed by 700 scholars at more than 300 institutions worldwide. 

Professor Lancaster will discuss how Digital Library development has been dominated by the need to input content and to catalogue that content, marginalizing the reference function.  Admirably suited to the codex environment, the Reference Room has yet to find its place in the new technology and strategies developed over time for the codex are not always applicable to the digital library.  In the digital world, there is no need for a set of reference works that are merely pointing toward data that is housed in other published works. It should be possible for the new referencing to operate directly within the data itself.  The Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative (ECAI) with support from the Luce Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, has been creating a search approach based on the four “Ws…i.e. Where, When, Who, What.”  These simple entry vocabulary words should allow users to access directly a variety of resources that address all four “Ws.”  A first attempt at searching through the use of the four "Ws" will be demonstrated along with a description of the complexities of the processes that go directly to data sources, complexity that can be seen in the attributed tables that lie behind the searches. 

Professor Lewis Lancaster served on the faculty of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California for 33 years.  He is continuing his directorship of the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative (ECAI) in the International and Area Studies division of the university.  After retiring from Berkeley, he held the post of president at the University of the West until 2006. Regarding the digital information sphere, he has been instrumental in the input of the Chinese Buddhist Canon, the Pali Canon of Thailand, and Buddhist Sanskrit documents.  The products of these ventures are now on the internet for free use.  The Digital Libraries Colloquium is sponsored by the School of Computer Science-Carnegie Mellon University, the School of Information Sciences-University of Pittsburgh, the University Library System-University of Pittsburgh, the University Libraries-Carnegie Mellon University and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.