Friday, January 30, 2009

E-Book Sources: AccessMyLibrary is a web based federated search product produced by Gale (Cengage), which prefers to market the product as a "search engine", although it is more similar in technology and results to a portal or metasearch engine. It is marketed as providing community-wide access to Thomson databases and encyclopedias licensed by public, school, or college libraries. Thomas Gale provides access to its plethora of databases via one portal interface which can be incorporated into a library's own OPAC, or remotely through a web mounted interface which uses library card holders to log-in to gain access.

Typically, the content is available directly from a library web page, or through the Internet that shows possible libraries in the user's area, and gives access if the user can enter a card number or other identifier from a participating library. Libraries may customize the menu of data sources which are available to its patrons, although this may not be explained to users.

The content available on AccessMyLibrary is also visible in major general-purpose search engines, and is similarly available to the user through patron identification. However, it does not provide access to records outside of Gale products, so only records from Thomson Gale sources that are already on the Internet will be found through AccessMyLibrary and other search engines, like Google, for example. Results that are available on the Internet may appear in a different format in AccessMyLibrary.

The site currently offers nearly 30 million articles from leading magazines like Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Consumer Reports and daily newspapers at no cost.

Many librarians may consider this a valuable service, as it provides a convenient way of access control where control by internet address is not practical. Some may be put off by the description of this as a "free" service, since the library pays Gale directly for patron access.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

E-Book Formats: OEB (Open eBook)

Open eBook (or OEB) is the e-book format based on XML format and defined by Open Publication Structure (OPS) specification.

In its essence, it is a JAR package (a zip file plus a manifest). Inside the package a defined subset of XHTML may be used, along with other CSS and the Dublin Core metadata. The default file extension is .opf (OEB Package Format).

The Open eBook Publication Structure (OEBPS) is a specification for representing the content of electronic books. Specifically:

  • The specification is intended to give content providers (e.g. publishers, authors, and others who have content to be displayed) and tool providers minimal and common guidelines which ensure fidelity, accuracy, accessibility, and adequate presentation of electronic content over various electronic book platforms.

  • The specification seeks to reflect established content format standards.

  • The goal of this specification is to define a standard means of content description for use by purveyors of electronic books (publishers, agents, authors et al.) allowing such content to be provided to multiple Reading Systems.

OEBPS is based on XML because of its generality and simplicity, and because XML documents are likely to adapt well to future technologies and uses. XML also provides well-defined rules for the syntax of documents, which decreases the cost to implementers and reduces incompatibility across systems. Further, XML is extensible: it is not tied to any particular set of element types, it supports internationalization, and it encourages document markup that can represent a document's internal parts more directly, making them amenable to automated formatting and other types of computer processing.