Extending the Reach of Digital Reference through Collaborative Data Warehousing
R. David Lankes and Scott Nicholson
Human intermediation through reference services have been a cornerstone of libraries; most libraries now answer questions for online patrons through synchronous and asynchronous digital reference. The Information Institute of Syracuse has been developing a shared data warehouse for these transactions from different reference services. This project, known as the Digital Reference Electronic Warehouse (DREW), was inspired by bibliomining, which is the combination of data warehousing, data mining, and bibliometrics for the measurement and evaluation of library services. The goal of the DREW project is to collect reference transactions from many services in order to power digital reference research projects. The attached graphic demonstrates the components of DREW, and more information can be found in a DREW working paper.
The first project to come from the DREW project is Reference Extract (http://digref.org), which is a search engine useful in exploring public archives of digital reference transactions. There are two primary data sources indexed: the reference questions and answers, and the pages that are linked to by these transactions. These two data sources can be accessed through either an open-ended natural language search or an automatically generated directory. In addition, after an open-ended search of reference transactions, an expanded search feature allows the user to easily connect to the warehouse of pages linked to those transactions.
The Reference Extract project demonstrates the type of tools that could be developed through the DREW project. These tools help librarians better market and distribute their services and allow users to take advantage of the expertise of a profession focused on human intermediation.
© Copyright 2005 R. David Lankes and Scott Nicholson