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The Electronic Library

SociaLib: a collaborative digital library model platform using Web 2.0


Sarandis Mitropoulos George Dimitrios Baltasis Michalis Rodios Christos Douligeris
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EL
32,5
SociaLib: a collaborative digital
library model platform using
Web 2.0
622 Sarandis Mitropoulos, George Dimitrios Baltasis,
Michalis Rodios and Christos Douligeris
Received 25 September 2012 Department of Informatics, University of Piraeus, Piraeus, Greece
Revised 1 November 2012
Accepted 18 November 2012
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Abstract
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to present the SociaLib system, which is a collaborative digital
library system. The system uses Drupal content management system to implement Web 2.0
functionalities and facilitate collaboration and cooperation between its users. It offers a variety of
functions, like wikis, forums and it is also accessible from microbrowsers.
Design/methodology/approach The paper starts with a reference to collaboration in Digital
Libraries and states related work. Then, it introduces the SociaLib system, including implementation
and functionalities. There is also an example of how such a system can be used in a real-world situation.
Ideas for future work are also included.
Findings The system was evaluated using a usability questionnaire on a subject of 50 people. The
results were promising, showing user acceptance and satisfaction.
Originality/value This paper offer collaborative solutions to Digital Library users, helping them
communicate and cooperate with colleagues on their research. The system uses Web 2.0 functions that
enable the user to be more productive and also work mobile if he wishes.
Keywords Digital libraries, Cooperation, Library 2.0, Web 2.0, Content management systems
Paper type Research paper

1. Introduction
With the development of Web 2.0, several integrated library systems (ILS) began to
provide various new functionalities apart from simple navigation in the content of their
lists (Chalon et al., 2008). For example, they now provide users with the capability to
evaluate and comment on a book that they read, to add keywords (tags) to books that
depend on their views, to discuss in a forum with other users that have read a book, to
participate in blogs, and to interact using the librarys chat feature. This new
functionality arose from the general tendency of the Internet today to be more social,
allowing its users to interact and not to be simply passive receptors of information
(Murugesan, 2007). This tendency has also influenced digital libraries changing them
progressively to Library 2.0 versions in tandem with Web 2.0 developments (Maness,
2006).
However, these systems do not provide on their own any environment which would
allow their users to develop some form of electronic collaboration at the same time with
The Electronic Library
Vol. 32 No. 5, 2014
pp. 622-641 The authors are grateful to Konstantina Roussi for her contribution in the design and
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
0264-0473
development of the usability questionnaire used to evaluate the SociaLib system, as well as for her
DOI 10.1108/EL-09-2012-0123 help in the process and assessment of the data and the production of the evaluation results.
the rest of the functionality they provide. Examples include giving the capability to their SociaLib
users to create work groups, processing their work jointly via wiki technologies,
maintaining group blogs or discussing their work or project. It is obvious that such
additional functionalities could be very useful for users of academic digital libraries.
Apart from bringing them closer to the library (Katsarou, 2008), users would be
encouraged to use the rest of the functionalities provided, thus helping to improve the
services offered by the library. 623
The goal of this paper is to propose and present the implementation of a model
integrated system which provides all of these advances in collaborative digital libraries.
In fact, the goal of the SociaLib system is the effective incorporation of an environment
of collaboration and interworking between users for all the main functionalities of
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digital libraries.
While offering a variety of functionalities to digital library users, the system aims
towards two new targets. First, the integration of all of the aforementioned
functionalities into one social and collaborative digital library system while utilizing the
power of widespread social networks, both those focused solely on socializing (e.g.
Facebook, Twitter) and those focused on bringing professionals together (e.g. LinkedIn).
The second target is to discuss the pros of embedding such a system in a traditional
library environment, as this relates to providing solutions to both librarians and library
users. This integration results in many benefits, such as: easy access to library content
and thus making the librarians work simpler, offering faster user service and providing
other advantages that will be discussed in the corresponding sections. The SociaLib
system also creates a hybrid model which covers the needs of both old and new users
while providing innovative services. The authors discuss how this model offers
solutions to both librarians and users, and succeeds in moving ahead.
Furthermore, following contemporary technological needs in mobile devices, the
authors are interested in determining how such a system can be modified or transposed
to smartphone and tablet applications. As mobile applications have made such a
breakthrough in the past few years, allowing us to be able to perform work while away
from our personal computers (PCs), and using the ever-expanding utilities of
smartphones or tablet PCs, the authors will discuss how SociaLib can be utilized on
Android and iOS platform systems.
This paper is organized as follows. In Section 2, related work and a study on the
theory of collaborative environments in digital libraries are presented. Section 3
contains information about SociaLib, a model of a cooperative Digital Library 2.0, which
has the advantage of incorporating a wide set of desirable functionalities in a
collaborative user environment. The authors discuss how the development of the
system is based on a content management system (CMS), which has been adapted
suitably in a digital library portal, so that it supports all the 2.0 functionalities and, at the
same time, the collaborative environment of users. In Section 4, the functionality of the
individual system modules is presented and the authors demonstrate their high
applicability and compliance with a complete set of the initially set requirements.
Section 5 describes the administrative functionality of the system. An evaluation of the
system using an online survey based on a 50-person population is discussed in Section
6. In Section 7, the benefits of embedding a system such as SociaLib in a real-life library
are detailed. Section 8 focuses on the ever-growing use of mobile applications and
EL discusses how SociaLib can be made to work on such platforms and also discusses
future work.
32,5
2. Related work and advancements
During the past few years, many digital libraries have modernized and have a more
social image (Maness, 2006). These changes are due to the improvements that have
624 taken place on the Internet, such as Web 2.0 (Murugesan, 2007; OReilly, 2005), which
brought to light new technologies, along with new means of collaboration and
communication. According to Maness (2006), Web 2.0 technologies, such as
synchronous discussion (instant messaging), blogs, wikis, RSS (Rich Site Summary)
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feeds, tags and social networks, have affected digital library communities, changing
them progressively from the traditional library to Library 2.0.
The Library 2.0 phenomenon has been studied by several researchers. Casey (2006)
provides a definition and theory of Library 2.0. Habib (2006) wrote about the principles
that govern Library 2.0 and presented a theoretical model of the Academic Library 2.0.
He described which functionalities such a system should have. Habibs research
presented a likely operational scenario of such a system, where, among others, it is
mentioned that students and teaching and research personnel could form private work
groups in which they could share and comment on issues synchronously and
asynchronously.
The foundation of the theoretical model and implementation issues in Library 2.0
systems have also been discussed. According to Chalon et al. (2008), apart from the use
of an ILS that possibly does not provide all the 2.0 functionalities, a specifically tailored
CMS, such as Drupal, SPIP or WordPress, can be used. In the digital library of the
Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre (KCE), the research team, lead by Chalon,
implemented Web 2.0 functionalities and allowed the users to participate in its
enrichment.
A commercial development by Axiell is the digital library software, called Axiell
Arena, which was developed using open-source software. In the Axiell Arena, a
library list is implemented in accordance with the principles of Library 2.0, offering a
Web page that is always open. The visitors of the library can meet in forums and create
their own digital bookshelf that will include information and a variety of different
document titles. They are also encouraged to begin a dialogue with the library and to
provide qualitative data for the growth of its lists (e.g. through tagging, reviewing,
rating or beginning a discussion in the forum with regards to a certain title). Another
approach on creating a collaborative digital library platform can be found in the NCore
platform (Krafft et al., 2012).
In other recent research work, the issue of modernizing libraries is raised with the
proposition of ways to promote library services to students (Katsarou, 2008). In these
works, new means of communication between librarians and users are described, such
as blogs, while, at the same time, Web 2.0 technologies, such as wikis, were researched
that can help with the collections of a digital library.
OPACIAL, an open-source project which can strengthen the services provided by the
library of an institution with Web 2.0 functionality, is an example of an early Library 2.0
system (Gavrilis et al., 2008). OPACIAL offers its users the capability to search and
navigate, as well as to recover similar objects (documents) based on tags via a tag cloud.
The system is also capable of proposing related tags that would suit an object.
Additionally, OPACIAL provides the capability for a unified search of related SociaLib
documents from the digital library of the institution, based on common thematic tags. A
very important issue of the aforementioned work is that to ensure the success of
modernization of digital libraries, we should first investigate which services we need to
upgrade in Version 2.0. Mitrelis et al. (2007) emphasized that services can be presented
that support the collaboration of users but only in the cooperative retrieval of
information. 625
The most recent works in this field focused on two domains. The first domain is the
integration of media, such as video, into digital libraries. Two such systems are
presented in Lanagan and Smeatons work (2012). These systems support user
annotations to merge with different types of data. This will also be considered on the
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future work section. The second domain is that of the Semantic Web and Web 3.0
technologies. These systems work on moving the digital library to a semantic
presentation of data, thus making the classification of and access to more efficient data.
Langxian et al. (2012) provided such an attempt. A similar system called CallimachusDL
likewise offered encouraging results (Garcia-Crespo et al., 2012). In this work, we saw
that features of the Semantic Web, such as data portability and ubiquity, can have a
positive impact on digital libraries. Also, work in cloud computing with regards to
digital libraries were discussed in Romeros work (2012), producing very interesting
results.

3. The SociaLib system


3.1 Background and modeling
Based on the aforementioned works, a theoretical model of a cooperative digital
library was developed and implemented using a CMS. According to this model, a
social community was created based on the online public access catalogue (OPAC)
(Chalon et al., 2008) of the digital library. The authors also developed an
environment which provides the functionality of easy and immediate
inter-networked cooperation between users to execute various tasks. This
environment gives users the capability to contribute in the development and
improvement of digital library services using Web 2.0 technologies and services.
The outcome of the implementation is the SociaLib system, a cooperative digital
library portal, which abides with the principles of Library 2.0 (Maness, 2006) and
allows the creation of user groups, as well as the capability to improve library
services. SociaLib upgrades the digital library socially and functionally, while it
progresses research in the area for the following reasons:
Members of a work group are provided with the capability of digital cooperation
(synchronous or asynchronous). Postgraduate or undergraduate students who
may not have adequate available time to meet physically in the library may
cooperate through SociaLib, a benefit that is more evident if the workgroup is
large.
It unifies the digital cooperation means of communication of its members in a
common framework (library portal) through selected Web 2.0 services, like wiki
groups (private or public), RSS feeds, synchronous conversations, discussion
forums and group blogs. Cooperation among group members is enhanced through
rating, commenting and tagging for the cooperative improvement of the digital
library (Chalon et al., 2008); thus, users who are satisfied with the unified
EL environment of collaboration are encouraged to assist in the improvement of the
environment itself.
32,5
It can be applied in an interdepartmental academic environment.
It allows users to work and cooperate with their teams from where they are located
and through any means.
626 It publishes to users large global digital libraries and provides links to them to
facilitate their research.
It enriches the library with the views of the users regarding its content and
strengthens the searching capabilities by using social tagging.
It offers the possibility for immediate help in questions raised regarding a task by a
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member that knows the answer through a response in the community forum. Requests
for help in a work can be announced to the rest of the community through RSS feeds.
It offers access to the library portal via mobile devices. Thus, access is
provided to the Web-based work space via authentication and the user can see
the news of his work group and respond to them using his mobile phone.

By providing all the previously mentioned functionalities in an academic environment,


SociaLib encourages students to use the digital library services of their institution,
something that up to the moment has not been achieved to a satisfactory degree, as indicated
by Katsarou (2008). SociaLib, thus, constitutes an intelligent way to bring students, teachers
and researchers closer to the library using the social community and tools of Web 2.0, as they
use these technologies in their everyday life (e.g. Facebook and Windows Live Messenger)
and are increasingly familiar with them. In this way, visits to the digital library are increased,
as a step-by-step active Web educational community can be developed.

3.2 Requirements, analysis and functionality


The requirements analysis is the first step before the implementation of the system.
For this process, we studied the suggestions found in the literature, as well as the systems
that have been developed, with the goal to identify the user requirements and to record the
functionalities required by the system. The results of our study are provided in Table I.
From this study, the following functional requirements were defined for our system:
(1) Capabilities of non-registered users:
Search in the lists of the digital library and navigate the lists.

F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 F6 F7 F8 F9 F10 F11 F12 F13

Maness N N Y N Y N Y N Y Y Y N N
Habib Y Y Y Y Y N Y Y Y Y Y Y N
KCE Y Y Y N N N N N N N Y N N
Axiell Arena Y Y Y Y Y Y N Y Y Y N Y Y
OPACIAL Y Y Y N N N N N N N Y Y Y
Table I.
A comparative study of Notes: F1 evaluation; F2 comments; F3 tags; F4 forum; F5 public chat; F6 personal
library 2.0 models and digital bookshelf; F7 wiki; F8 user groups; F9 blog; F10 RSS feeds; F11 social sharing;
systems F12 tag cloud; F13 mobile devices; Y yes; N no
Read announcements and other information on the librarys Web page. SociaLib
Create new user accounts.
Access the Web page of the library via a mobile phone.
(2) Capabilities of registered users:
Create a new work group.
Send electronic invitations of collaboration to other registered members. 627
Discover connected users.
Edit personal profile.
Conduct live discussions with other users of the library.
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Create group blogs, updated via RSS feeds for new registrations.
Create group wikis for collaborative work.
Develop personal digital bookshelves.
Read group announcements via a mobile phone.
(3) Capabilities of library administrators or librarians:
Manage the content of the main page, time and schedule of the library, and
publication of all the announcements.
Filter information that is sent by the users to support the services of the
library, such as the administration and control of tags and comments before
they are published and checking to avoid spam (Chalon et al., 2008).
Respond to library users requests in a defined time schedule.
(4) Capabilities of collaboration:
Provide works and projects in the form of a wiki.
Maintain work processing history via the wiki technology.
Exchange work material via shared files and directories.
Publish ideas and announcements to the members of a group in a blog form.
Update group members regarding changes via RSS feeds.
(5) Capabilities of contribution in the library:
Allow comments.
Provide evaluation.
Offer tagging.
Establish forums.

The aforementioned functional requirements constituted a guide to implement the


system, as well as the first step before beginning the final implementation.

3.3 SociaLib architecture


Based on the above requirement analysis, the SociaLib model should consist of the
following units and modules: (a) a CMS and database, (b) an ILS, (c) a set of unregistered
users, (d) the community of registered users and (e) the administrators of both systems.
A diagram of the SociaLib system architecture is shown in Figure 1.
EL Web 2.0 Services
and Collections
32,5
Tags RSS Blogs

Wikis Books Integrated


import MARC export Library
628 Database Content Management System Records System
(CMS) (ILS)

Groups Forums Chat


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Read /
Read
Write / Manage

Write
Read
Manage

Admin
(Librarian)
Users Authenticated Users
Figure 1.
(Social Community)
The SociaLib architecture Wiki Collaboration

The operation of SociaLib is based on a CMS which acts as the digital library portal and
provides all the 2.0 functionality seen in the requirement analysis discussed in Section
3.2 while interacting with the database. The CMS collects all the Web 2.0 services (tags,
RSS, blogs, wikis, groups, forums and chat) provided by the library, as well as lists
(books/documents) that are in the form of MARC (Machine-Readable Cataloguing).
These records are exported in MARC format from the existing ILS and are then
imported into the CMS and recorded in the database as documents. This function is
performed by the administrator of the CMS and ILS, who may be a librarian.
As shown in Figure 1, users who have not yet registered in the library portal can only
read information from the library and navigate through the document lists, but they do
not have the capability to interact with them. On the contrary, registered users, which
are the librarys social community, can read information, interact with the library, work
together, and thus realize the full potential of Library 2.0.
To briefly demonstrate the modules of the SociaLib architecture, the authors present
a possible scenario of use: the user registered in the library looks for a document through
the tag cloud or through the search function and adds it to his personal digital bookshelf,
having it selected in a list as favorite for his/her research. In parallel, he/she shares
with a friend a library item through the Share This service in a social network, such as
Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace. Then, he/she creates a work group inviting
colleagues, who are also members of the library, and writes his group research work
using wiki technology, which offers viewing, editing and revising a Web document.
In addition, he/she communicates with his group members through the blog of the
group and may ask other members of the library a question regarding his work
using the librarys forum. All of these functions can be done via a mobile phone or
other mobile device. Moreover, through the computer, a user can chat live with other
users of the library, which can potentially help in his/her research. Users can SociaLib
evaluate a library item by posting a comment (commenting) and by rating it (rating).
Additionally, he/she can assign a label (tagging) to an item according to his/her
opinion, helping others with the same interests and himself/herself to find a new
document using the tag cloud library.

3.4 System implementation 629


The SociaLib implementation used the CMS Drupal, which is suitable for the development of
many different types of Web sites, such as community Web portals, discussion sites and
social network sites. The power of Drupal lies in its flexible architectural design, which relies
on the introduction of functional units (modules) to extend its capabilities to the desired level.
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The hundreds of modules offered by Drupal, as well as the possibility of customization,


make it capable of adapting fully to the needs of each application.
Before making the choice on how to implement SociaLib, different software systems
were identified and tested to select the most appropriate software system for the
development of the application. Along with conducting the theoretical study, which
involved a detailed study of the literature discussing the advent of new technologies
such as Web 2.0 and their relationship to digital libraries, the authors explored ways in
which they could build such a system. Thus, a number of software development tools
were investigated to determine whether they were suitable for the purposes of the
application. A very good guide in this effort was the research work of Chalon et al. (2008),
which presented two detailed tables of all OPAC 2.0 systems that were identified during
the preparation for this study. The fact that several of these systems are open-source
projects was very important because this allowed them to be uploaded and tested freely.
All open-source systems listed by Chalon et al. were downloaded and tested for making
the selection of the most appropriate development tool. These are listed in Table II.
For the operation of SociaLib, 12 modules had to be installed and configured correctly
in Drupal, and several of them had to be debugged in PHP code to work correctly
because they were in beta version at the time of development. Moreover, a set of initial

Name Manufacturer System type Web page

Openbiblio Dave Stevens ILS http://obiblio.sourceforge.net/


Phpmylibrary Polerio Babao III ILS http://sourceforge.net/
projects/phpmylibrary/
Joomla Johan Janssens (MVP) CMS www.joomla.org/
Wordpress Matt Mullenweg, Ryan Blog publishing http://wordpress.org/
Boren, Donncha O system
Caoimh
Scriblio Plymouth State CMS (WordPress http://about.scriblio.net/
University (wordpress) extension)
Drupal Dries Buytaert Content management http://drupal.org/
system
Koha LibLime ILS www.koha.org/
SPIPSPIP4PMB Arnault Pachot CMS www.spip.net/
OPACIAL Dimitris Gavrilis Web 2.0 online public http://sourceforge.net/ Table II.
access catalogue projects/opacial System software
(OPAC) identified and tested
EL data had to be imported into the system to test its operation. The system was developed
entirely in the operating system Ubuntu GNU/Linux 8.10 Server Edition, together with
32,5 the desktop environment GNOME.
PHP code was used to implement each of the systems functionalities, facilitating
CSS files to model the look of the graphic user interface. Open-source Drupal
modules, such as forums, chats and administration panels, which were modified to
630 meet specific needs, were used as well. Especially in the Administration Control
panel, additional work was done, to make it user friendly and to provide a wide
variety of tools to help librarians/administrators run and maintain the system
without experiencing problems.
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4. Functionality per system module


In this section, a brief presentation of the features and the 2.0 functionality of SociaLib
targeting end-users is provided. Thirteen 2.0 functionalities that are provided to users of
SociaLib are discussed. In Section 5, a brief presentation of the administration system is
presented. This system is aimed at 2.0 librarians/administrators.
In this subsection, we present all the 2.0 functionalities offered to users of SociaLib.
The capabilities are presented in the order as presented in Table I of the requirement
analysis section (Section 3.2).

4.1 Presentation of 13 2.0 functionalities


4.1.1 F1 and F2: Evaluation of and commenting on acquisitions. The first two modern
functionalities provided by the system are those of evaluating and commenting on
library acquisitions. Users are able to rate an acquisition, using a 1 to 5 asterisk-based
score, while writing a comment. These functionalities are provided in conjunction, so
that there is no acquisition with rating but no comments and vice versa. This helps other
users form a more comprehensive view of acquisitions. In each acquisition page, any
evaluations and comments by members are presented together with the auto-calculated
average score.
4.1.2 F3 and F12: Tags and tag cloud. The tags and the tag cloud, two other modern
functionalities offered by SociaLib, are working in conjunction with one another, in the
sense that one produces the other. Many tags produce a tag cloud. Tags are keywords
with brief descriptions that are matched by users to any library acquisition. The
objective of the tags is to facilitate searches, making them quicker and simpler. This
facility is provided through the tag cloud, which is a collection of several tags in an area
of the library Web site, with the most popular ones, those that are more often used,
appear incrementally with larger fonts, and the less popular ones are displayed in
smaller fonts.
4.1.3 F4: Forum. The next set of 2.0 functionality provided by SociaLib to its users is
that of public discussion (forum). This is a place where discussions are held and can be
organized by themes (topics). The forums promote dialogue, while any member of the
library can find an answer in issues relevant to any topic on the librarys Web site, or
even get help from other members who will answer questions that have been posed
regarding a work undertaken by an individual or a group.
4.1.4 F5: Chat. Apart from the forum, SociaLib provides users with the capability to
participate in live public discussions (chat) which are realized through the website of the
library. Through chatting, members of the librarys community have the opportunity to
communicate in real time. Chatting enables users to communicate with the SociaLib
administrator (librarian) of the system, during the open hours of the library. In the
SociaLib system, there is no need to download and install any additional software
because it is technologically built in as a service of the digital library. For the chat
service of SociaLib, we used the expansion programming unit, named phpFreeChat,
which uses Web 2.0 via PHP AJAX program, integrating it into Drupal and providing
its users with a complete live chat environment. 631
4.1.5 F6: Personal digital bookshelf. The personal digital bookshelf is a collection of
hyperlinks which refer to books in the library. This functionality was introduced in
the commercial library system 2.0 Axiell Arena. Each user places his/her favorite
books in a list to find them quickly and easily. This helps users gather everything
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they need for their current research in one easily accessible place. Figure 2 is an
image of the Personal Digital Bookshelf of one users. Under the Favorites tab, we
can find every book the user has put in his list, thus being able to access them faster,
when needed.
4.1.6 F7 and F8: Wiki technology and user (working) groups. The next two modern
system functionalities of SociaLib are the wiki technology and the working groups
that allow users to create online collaboration. Wiki technology is available to users
through the working groups. Working groups can be open or closed. In addition closed
groups can be accessible by invitation only or by request only. By joining a group, a user
can create or edit an existing wiki document.
The functionality of wiki technology is ideal for group writing. Through the working
groups, the users of SociaLib can view, edit and revise a Web document. In Figure 3, we
see how a user can create a wiki project, by entering a job title and the text.
4.1.7 F9: Blogs. The next 2.0 functionality provided by SociaLib is the ability for
users to create blogs within or outside of working groups. In SociaLib, a user can create

Figure 2.
SociaLib personal digital
bookshelf
EL
32,5

632
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Figure 3.
SociaLib creating a wiki
project

a blog through which he/she can communicate with a working group. Just like working
in wiki, a blog entry may also appear in public, apart from the groups we choose to
address.
4.1.8 F10: RSS feeds. The tenth 2.0 functionality offered by the system is the ability
to provide an RSS news feed, both on the library home page and in each entry performed
to the system by users. The RSS feeds on the home page can be used for immediate
notification of new library acquisitions, as well as for the collection of news and
announcements in titles.
4.1.9 F11: Social sharing. The 2.0 functionality described here is the capability
of social sharing provided by the SociaLib system. With social networks blooming
these days, linking with them seems fundamental. This feature is provided through
the Share This service, which links to a constantly updated list of social
networks.
4.1.10 F13: Mobile devices. This is the last functionality provided by the SociaLib
system. As times dictate, it is important to be able to access a lot of every day
applications through a mobile device, such as a phone or tablet. To cover this need,
SociaLib works excellently through microbrowsers, allowing mobile users to access the
system from wherever they may be.
5. SociaLib administration SociaLib
The administration system of SociaLib is based on the Drupal control panel, with added
options. Through the administration module, the administrator/librarian can control
anything on the librarys Web site, from a simple publication up to the parameters of the
expansion modules for the proper operation of the Web site. The panel is divided into the
categories described in Table III.
Figure 4 presents a general view of the administration interface. The page is 633
expandable and a user can choose whether to view the description of each functionality.
The page is divided into six main administrative categories. For example, if a user
wanted to change the theme of the Web site, he/she would choose Themes, under the
category Create a site.
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Below are the most essential categories that correspond to the most often used
day-to-day operations.

5.1 Adding new books to the system


In SociaLib, it is feasible to add new books from an external file that contains data
records in MARC format. These files can be exported from ILS or they can be created
and processed by a special program. After the import, a user can see the MARC
information of a book that has been added to the library by visiting the page with the
details of the book and by clicking on the tab MARC, which holds the details of each
book.

5.2 Tag administration


Another important function of system administration is the management of tags
produced by the users in their progressive engagement with library acquisitions. Tag
administration is important because users may use semantically inappropriate tags.

5.3 Forum Administration


Another commonly used administration function is the management of topics published
in the area of public discussion. Here, the administration has to do with regular reading
of the user publications and appropriate interventions by the librarians in the
discussion, in case the participants violate basic rules of the forums, as set by the library.

5.4 Members administration


Another important administration function is the administration of the members of the
library. From this list, one can add new users and get information on users that are

Administration type Description

Web site creation Creation and choice of the Web site look and feel
Content administration Administration of the Web site content
General web site administration Configuration of the basic Web site parameters
Organic groups Administration of the Drupal module suite of the organic groups
Member administration Configuration of the parameters concerning the Web site
members, groups and their rights Table III.
References Reporting from the calendars and other status information of the Main categories of the
system SociaLib administration
Help Help texts for the usage and the handling of extension modules panel
EL
32,5

634
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Figure 4.
SociaLib administration
panel

already registered in the system. Also, through the contact tab, librarians can
communicate with a user by sending him/her e-mail messages.

5.5 Publishing announcements


Finally, the administrator/librarian can publish news and announcements on the home
page of the library.

6. Evaluation of the SociaLib system


To monitor user reactions and check whether the SociaLib system succeeds in providing
an innovative collaborative digital library environment to the end-users, the authors
used a usability-based questionnaire. The questionnaire facilitates user scenarios to test
each mode of the SociaLib system. Fifty completed questionnaires were gathered from a
mixed sample and the data were processed using SPSS.
The authors used six scenarios, five specialized and one to test the general feeling. In SociaLib
each scenario, the user had to complete tasks such as creating an account or a working
group, or more advanced tasks, before answering the questionnaire. For each scenario,
the completion difficulty, the speed of completion and the utility of the auxiliary
information given to the users to help them complete each task were tested.
The first scenario concerned non-registered users and involved searching for an
acquisition, as well as the creation of a user account. Seventy-two per cent of the 635
respondents found working as a non-registered user easy, while 24 per cent were
neutral. The second scenario featured registered users, creation of a working group, as
well as searching for an acquisition, and submitting comments and rating. In this
scenario, 56 per cent of the sample found working as a registered user easy, while 32 per
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cent were neutral. The next scenario tested the collaborative abilities of the SociaLib
system and here users cooperated in teams of two. The majority, 79 per cent, of the
sample found the scenario easy, while 13 per cent were neutral. Next, the administration
of the system was tested by using a selected sample of 23 people, with an information
technology background. Sixty-two per cent of the sample reported that the scenario was
easy, while 21 per cent were neutral. The last specialized scenario involved users
accessing the system from a mobile device. Sixty per cent of the sample found the
scenario easy, while 33 per cent were neutral.
Lastly, the overall usefulness, ease of use, ease of learning and satisfaction of the end
users were evaluated. Forty-four per cent believed that SociaLib covered all of their
needs, with 45 per cent being neutral and only 11 per cent with negative feelings.
Seventy-five per cent reported that SociaLib was user-friendly. Overall, 68 per cent
noted that they were generally satisfied with SociaLib. Fifty-four per cent would
recommend the system to friends and colleagues.
It is worth noting that the most positive comments came from the age group 24-29
years, with 83 per cent generally satisfied. Also, 86 per cent of post-graduate students
answering the survey thought that SociaLib helped them effectively with their research.
Respondents between the ages of 24 and 35 years are more active and well-satisfied,
and belong to an educational level of undergraduate, post-graduate or PhD. Ninety-three
per cent of this group reported that SociaLib was easy to use and learn, and believed that
by using it they would get better results in their research, study or project. By this, the
authors deduced that a real-life system, with SociaLib at its core, would be desirable by
the main audience and would be considered helpful in academic matters by satisfying a
number of user needs.
There are several diagrams describing the previously discussed results. The first
diagram (Figure 5) displays results for each of the five specialized scenarios. Figure 6
shows the user satisfaction section of the overall scenario, while the third (Figure 7)
indicates the general satisfaction by age group.
A statistical-oriented projection of the significance of these results suggests that the
majority of the subjects, having attended higher education and/or been involved in
academic or work-related projects, would welcome the benefits of such a platform.
Furthermore, as 73 per cent of the subject answered that they use libraries for research
material, our results converge to the point that embedding the system in a real-life
library would not only be highly acceptable by the general community, but it would also
increase their work effectiveness and promote socializing in large groups.
EL Scenario 5
32,5
Scenario 4
Negave

Scenario 3 Neutral
Posive
636 Scenario 2

Scenario 1
Figure 5.
Specialized scenarios
0 50 100
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Posive
Figure 6. Neutral
User satisfaction Negave

100

80

60
General Sasfacon
40

20
Figure 7.
General satisfaction 0
classified by age group
18-23 24-29 30-35 36-41 41+

7. Embedding Web 2.0 in traditional libraries


As it is now clear, all the above functions of a collaborative environment which utilizes
Web 2.0 technologies, such as the SociaLib system, can be very helpful and effective,
helping students, professionals and various other people fulfill their assignments, while
collaborating with colleagues and acquaintances. These results are based strictly on the
online use of the system, with everything being digital. What if we consider linking the
digital system with a real-world traditional library? Would there be significant
improvements in the traditional system?
Thomas (2006) reported that existing integrated library management systems are
dependent on one vendor, making them cumbersome and not easily modified. The
author recommended a disintegrated library management system, meaning that each
function is deliberate and matched with a technology that best solves the problem.
SociaLib offers open-source, state-of-the-art solutions that are easily changed and
modified based on the latest updates and user requirements. Instead of using a single
technology for each functionality, we use a set of open source technologies, which can be
modified, altered or replaced based on user needs. Using Drupal as the main platform,
the authors utilized free, open-source modules such as chats, forums, wikis and other
technologies, or created their own. This results in a simple and easily adjustable system,
should a change become vital in covering user needs. It is easy to change or update one SociaLib
of the systems features if it is outdated, or if the users needs dictate it. With Drupals
open-source modules, we are able to modify or update an existing function or create and
install a new one (Figure 8).
Integrating a digital library system in a real library means more than creating an
online OPAC. The use of the functionalities provided by the system must be utilized to
such an extent that it provides solutions to both librarians and end users. Making 637
the librarian an administrator results in a more convenient management of the whole
system. The administrator can manage users, while making it easy to communicate
with them, via e-mail or instant messaging if they are connected to the system. He/She
can update the content of the library, while he/she can also monitor the needs of the users
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by seeing which topics are more popular.


The content of the library will be catalogued in the SociaLib system and, with the
utilization of the tag cloud, librarians can determine which books and services/resources
are more attractive to the users of the facility. This will help in understanding the
content that should be added to the library.
When it comes to end-users, the possibilities that integration will add are numerous.
Users will be able to communicate with each other using forums, chat and e-mails. They
will be able to communicate with librarians as needed. Librarians will be able to answer
every question in scheduled hours, be that fixed or arranged by appointment.
Lastly, we come to the collaborative part of the system. This brings innovation to the
traditional system. Each user will not only be able to find him or herself an appropriate
book or paper to help with completing the assignment at hand, but the system makes it
possible to interact with other users or colleagues facing the same challenge. Through
wikis and groups, users can work together without being physically at the library. This
also helps the library staff because facilities will not be as crowded as they used to be.
Through forums, users can discuss their problems and help each other, and through file
sharing, they can access content that is not in the librarys catalogue.
To sum up, lets imagine a real library like the ones found in large educational
facilities, such as colleges, universities or research institutes. The SociaLib system gives
librarians the ability to be able to monitor their system, have their users file and know
instantly which books, articles and research materials are available through the library,
whether physical or e-books, and add new content or change the existing items. SociaLib
also provides users with a versatile system which enables them to rent books from their
home PC and download them in electronic format, or pick them up from the institutes
library. It also presents them with a way to socialize with other members of the
educational society of the institution and helps them work on their projects along with
their classmates or alone by asking for assistance in the corresponding forums. It even
allows them to share their material with the rest of the users, also helping to grow the
librarys content.

Implementation of
User Requirements &
open source services SociaLib System Figure 8.
Functionalities SociaLib open-source
technology utilization
EL 8. Conclusion and future work
It is now obvious that the evolution of Web services, which we call Web 2.0, has not left
32,5 digital libraries unaffected, as they have been considered an integral part of it. The
advent of new Web technology changed the way we perceive the Internet and interact
with it, and changed the way we use digital libraries to cover our needs regarding
searching for information and oftentimes for entertainment. Libraries worldwide are
638 constantly changing through focusing on the people who use them, listening to their
views and giving users new roles, that of the protagonist and the author, and not that of
the silent reader and passive receiver of information. This change enhances
communication, promotes teamwork and fosters cooperation.
From this change, winners are both the people who are now an active part of the
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library, as well as the libraries themselves because they enrich their content with the
views of users, and thus helping new library users to come closer. A users ability to
affect the library leads to improved content and higher quality of provided services,
while the librarian takes over a new role, that of the administrator of digital information,
and the assistant trainer of users in the innovative technologies that are introduced, and
those to be introduced in the future.
Towards this direction, SociaLib can be considered a very effective, efficient and full
functionality platform which promotes not only the main goals of digital libraries, but
also an environment of cooperation and inter-working between its users on a project
base. As we saw in the evaluation above, users are highly satisfied by the performance
and the functions provided by SociaLib, and a great percentage would use it frequently.
To satisfy growing user needs, we need to improve or add functions. Streaming media
should be a great addition in such a system, as it would make it possible to include
tutorials or online tutoring in the form of audio and video, as Lanagan and Smeaton
(2012) suggested. Another issue that is included in future work is securing copyrights
when users exchange data through the file sharing function. Lastly, one of our main
points of improvement should be SociaLibs mobility, this being the need to be able to
access the system through a mobile application. The use of mobile phones and the
mobile Internet has increased through the years, with 4 billion phones in use as of 2011
and more mobile Internet users than desktop Internet users by 2014 (Richmond, 2011).
Moreover, we have been introduced to what are known as smartphones. Smartphones
use advanced operational systems and provide users with a variety of useful
applications, most of them third-party applications that are not developed by the
operating system company, but from individual freelancers.
The main operating system platforms these days are Apples iOS, Google Android
and Windows Phone. Most application development focuses solely on Apples iOS and
Googles Android platforms, with 600,000 applications published for these two systems
by March 2011 (Spackman, 2011). This leads us to the point that if we are to transpose
the SociaLib system to a mobile environment, these two operating systems are our
main options. These statistics and worldwide acceptance of the need to be able to
work from your phone or tablet dictate that it is important to transpose the SociaLib
system to one or more of the above platforms to provide its users with live and
on-the-go librarian services. As mentioned above, we will be focusing on iOS and
Android operating systems to start. When coming to the point of implementing
SociaLib as a mobile application, there are two ways to choose. The first one is to
implement and develop an application that is separate from the SociaLib system,
while the second focuses on linking the application with the existing database, but SociaLib
this decision is an issue for future work. One of the main functionalities of SociaLib,
as discussed in Section 4, is its ability to perform through microbrowsers. So, this
leads us to the fact that mobile users are able to access the library system, using their
mobile phones browser (Safari, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, etc.), before the
system is transposed to a mobile application.
639
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Corresponding author
Sarandis Mitropoulos can be contacted at: sarandis@unipi.gr

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