An ever-increasing number of digital libraries are cropping up to fill very specific niches and offer visitors access to documents and materials that the public library has simply not been able to. The Electronic Document Systems Foundation (EDSF), a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the value and relevance of document communications worldwide, has tossed its hat into the ring and announced in August its development of an industry research library offering research and white papers to interested parties.
"There were a number of factors that motivated the development of the EDSF Research Library in the Fall of 2003," says Jeanne Mowlds, executive director of the EDSF. "These factors included various individuals and organizations contacting EDSF for specific research needs; EDSF sponsoring the development of significant publications and white papers well received by the industry. There is quality 'public domain' research available from vendors, consultants, and academic institutions but locating the research is difficult." So EDSF set about creating a centralized location for such research that patrons could visit to find a collection of quality research and information.
Current offerings cover digital color printing, industry definition and analysis, processes, productivity and profitability, and cross-media migration and integration, in addition to other industry-related subjects. NexPress, AIIM International, Pitney Bowes, the Rochester Institute of Technology, and Delphi Group are among the organizations that have made their research and white papers available through the EDSF Research Library.
"For the first phase of this project, EDSF is collecting the research in PDF format and posting them on a Web page alphabetically by title within the year of publication," explains Toby Cobrin, research library chair for the EDSF. "Presently, the system is not contained within a content management system. As the library grows, EDSF plans to go into another phase of the project where content is managed more systematically with additional capabilities like title and author searching capabilities as well as keyword search abilities."
The EDSF Research Library has made overtures to include its patrons in the process of accumulating quality research and welcomes the submission of papers. According to the submission guidelines, each submitted work must be original, be relevant to the document communications industry, cover a timely topic, refrain from being product or vendor specific, and be well written with a defined focus.
"EDSF selected a committee of eight individuals who are interested in research to volunteer their time to search for the excellent research that is available," says Cobrin. "The members of this committee will rotate every three years. All are professionals and knowledgeable about the industry," Cobrin continues. "Their professional roles range from document management to graphic arts to electronic publishing." Every submitted work is reviewed by the committee chair and a committee member; the EDSF has found that because they are clear about their requirements, very few papers come in that must be rejected.
As a relatively new addition to the digital library market, the EDSF's collection is small, but growing steadily. "Currently in the EDSF Research Library there are approximately 30 research documents plus an archive of the EDSF REPORT, which is a bimonthly research newsletter," explains Cobrin. "Finding new work is an ongoing process and new research is added when it is received and approved."
The EDSF has grand plans for the future of its library and envisions the EDSF Research Library becoming a one-stop shop for all industry information. "The overarching goal of the EDSF Research Library is to provide the industry and the public at large one location in which they can find an archive of excellent research that is educational and informational in nature, with many and varied subject matters available," says Mowlds. "This research would be far reaching in representation of the document communications industry. It would be wonderful if this could be a single resource, like a public library, where specific research could be found in one visit.
"The EDSF Research Library as it is seen today is only a start," Mowlds continues. "It is definitely EDSF's intent to expand the service to include a wider range of topics covering all aspects of the document communications industry—hopefully hundreds of research publications. We would like more companies and individuals thinking of this being a valuable and viable site to post their research."