The practical implementation of processes to describe and access informationcan be complex. While the issues concerning description and access ofinformation are not difficult to understand in a strictly intellectual sense,coordinating the creation of cataloging and metadata in a productionenvironment can be. Much of the data necessary to successfully retrieve andpresent digital information online is inherent in the conversion/creationprocess of that information. If files are not named properly or essentialmetadata are not captured at the time of image scanning or record creation, thematerial can be unusable without highly expensive manual intervention orreprogramming. The process of quality review, worthy of an article in itself,is an activity that is crucial at both ends of the digital content productioncycle to verify that the digitally converted information is legible, clear, andproperly labeled.

A final conclusion from what was seen in Japan and from what this authorknows to be true in the United States is that digital content management on alarge scale is a huge question impacting digital libraries in Japan and theUnited States. Traditional methods of description and access are not practical,affordable, or appropriate for large amounts of digital material. The librarycommunity has led admirably in terms of standardizing data formats andstandards for description and access that make bibliographic recordsinteroperable. In Rama Chellappa's Chapter 6 concerning image retrieval inJapan, and Bruce Croft's impressions regarding text (Chapter 5), there are someresearch agendas with the goal of achieving scalable solutions to contentconversion and management problems. But until that time, digital informationorganization must continue to be studied, prototyped through projects such asthe DLIB II initiative, and considered carefully by professionals in manydisciplines.

Published: February 1999; WTECHyper-Librarian