Edocs: State Government Publications
the help of a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, awarded through
State Library Services division of the Minnesota Department
of Education, the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library (LRL) has solved many
issues related to the archiving of full text digital state publications and linking
to them through the online catalog. The creation of the Minnesota Edocs database
will help the Library increase access to state publications to all citizens through
the Library's catalog and MNLINK.
In the spring of 2003, LRL began a pilot
project to make digital copies of legislatively mandated reports and link
to the copies through the Library's catalog. Many state agency publications are
required by law, and each year the Minnesota Legislature requests additional studies
and documentation of state government functions. LRL either acquires electronic
copies of mandated reports, or scans and archives reports not published electronically,
to archive on our own server.
With the demise of the State
Depository program microfiche distribution, this project become even more
important and in 2004 was extended to all digital publications meeting the definition
of a Minnesota state document. In addition to legislatively required reports,
the Library acquires other state agency publications extensively and archives
copies of those we receive in electronic format. Links to LRL's archived versions
are added to the records in MNPALS, the Library catalog. Links to the agency URLs
are included as well, but those links are deleted when agencies no longer maintain
the reports on their sites.
Online archiving soon posed several issues for the LRL. Adding multiple links
on the bibliographic record for an online document in several parts, or for successive
issues of a serial, made the catalog record cluttered
and confusing. Frequently there was not a one-to-one relationship between
the paper document and the digital document as published by the agency, which
could be online in formats not amenable to archiving. The static link on the bibliographic
record to the Library's archive file meant that the files could not be migrated
to another server without breaking over 1,000 links in the Library's catalog.
Finally, no preservation metadata for the electronic files was being recorded.
In 2004 the Library received an LSTA
grant to research and develop solutions to these issues.
We researched institutional repository software products and the document management
systems other states used to manage digital state publications, comparing them
to a list of criteria, such as cost, functionality, etc. It soon became obvious
that most of the systems mentioned were too large, complicated, and—most
importantly—far too expensive for LRL. The nature of many software products
also conflicted with LRL's goal of using the catalog and MNLINK to provide access
to the documents, since they created a separate collection with a separate catalog.
In the end, we concluded that the best system possible, the one most suited to
our needs, would be one we built ourselves.
We developed our own simple and inexpensive yet still robust electronic document
management system. The database did not create a new catalog from scratch, but
harnessed LRL's robust catalog of MARC bibliographic metadata. Descriptive metadata
remains in the catalog record; the Edocs database is used to record preservation
and administrative metadata and to create links between separate URLs (as in the
case of serial issues). We solved the cataloging issues our growing archive had
The resulting display
of the formerly "cluttered and confusing" record.
The Library's Edocs database was developed using commercially available software
that includes Microsoft Windows 2000 Server, Microsoft IIS Web server, and Microsoft
Access 2000. This system could also be implemented using a variety of open source
operating systems, web server software, and database software (one example combination
could be Linux, Apache, and MySQL). It is our hope that this system could be emulated
and adapted by other libraries considering similar archives of electronic files.
The data tables and data entry application were created using Microsoft Access
2000. Access 2000 will continue to be used for data entry purposes. The data tables
will be converted to Microsoft SQL tables for more efficient delivery via the
Web server, and for more robust backup capabilities.
Please direct questions regarding the project to Elizabeth Lincoln, Director, Minnesota
Legislative Reference Library. For more details on the project, see the materials
included in Minnesota
Edocs: Documentation for the LSTA Grant Project, October 2004 September