Center for the Study of Digital Libraries, Texas A&M University

CSDL logo

The Center for the Study of Digital Libraries (CSDL) was established in 1995 by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents and builds upon research developed in the Hypermedia Research Laboratory established in 1987. A member of the global digital library research community, the Center provides a focal point for digital libraries research and technology for the State of Texas. Its mission is to foster pioneering research on the theory and application of digital libraries and to create flexible and efficient new technologies for their use.

The Center provides expertise and experience to help transfer collections of all types -- from books and journals to biological specimens and museum pieces -- into useful digital libraries. Center staff includes experts in key new technologies required for digital libraries: electronic document modeling and publication, hyperbase systems, process-based and spatial hypermedia systems, collaborative systems, and computer-human interaction.

The Center's program of research responds to the U.S. government's National Challenge program for research in information infrastructure technology. It provides a leadership role in the on-line development and application of world-wide access to digital library services. Development of this technology provides valuable fundamental research and supports the broader goal of research and education through improved means for collaboration and distance learning. The Center is not limited to one discipline; rather the development of digital libraries may be viewed as a fundamental contribution to research in all disciplines.

The Center organized the first two Conferences on the Theory and Practice of Digital Libraries. The proceedings of these conferences helped lay the foundation for this important new research field. The first ACM-sponsored international conference on digital libraries was held in the spring of 1996 and the second will be held in the summer of 1997. The ACM conferences continue this series and now provide the premier research venue for the field of digital libraries.

Research context

Information in the future will be produced, transmitted, and consumed in electronic form. The printed book will be replaced by new electronic forms and today's static, paper-based library with its fixed indexing schemes will give way to dynamic digital libraries with flexible and efficient mechanisms for locating, organizing, and personalizing vast amounts of multimedia information. We will no longer be bound by the physical affordances of shelves, floors, and buildings, nor the single conceptual library structure mapping all information by "call numbers" onto the physical library building. Instead, we will use collaborative hypermedia library systems allowing multiple conceptual mappings, personalization of library resources, and sharing of digital library information spaces. Collections of all manner and type will be digitized and made widely available through high capacity networking.

Increasingly, scholarly work involves a collaboration of geographically dispersed researchers, teachers, and students. Scholarly work in the digital library of the future will be mediated through coordinated access to shared information spaces. Patrons will organize their own private digital libraries, collaborate with colleagues through shared digital libraries, and have access to huge amounts of multimedia information in global, public digital libraries. A multitude of new media and new data types, and common access to high-speed computer networks will revolutionize our conceptions of books, libraries, scientific research, scholarship, learning, commerce, and ownership.

Within the past decade the number and types of digital information sources have proliferated. Computing system advances and the continuing networking and communications revolution have resulted in a remarkable expansion in the ability to generate, process, and disseminate digital information. Together, these developments have made new forms of knowledge repositories and information delivery mechanisms feasible. Before these sources can be combined into realistic, full-scale digital libraries, fundamental research must be performed in areas such as information representation, presentation, and retrieval; human-computer interaction; hypermedia and hyperbase systems; computer-supported collaborative work; distributed multimedia systems; and broadband networking. Answering the question of how best to take advantage of these promising technologies requires significant theoretical and empirical results from well-designed studies and experimental prototypes set in the context of solving real problems for patrons of experimental digital library testbeds.


The research of the Center for the Study of Digital Libraries falls into two broad areas. Digital library projects are concerned with building digital libraries of significant collections that are used by practicing scholars and the public. Computing infrastructure projects are concerned with providing the technology (networking, databases, software, user interfaces) necessary to deliver the digital library projects in an efficient and timely manner. The following gives a brief description of selected research being conducted in the CSDL. Links are provided to project homepages for more detail.

Digital library projects

Computing infrastructure projects


The Center occupies 12 offices and two laboratories on the main campus of Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, as well as an office at the Institute of Biosciences and Technology in Houston, Texas. The Center is currently renovating its space to include a conference room equipped with ATM networking for distance education applications.

Research facilities include a local area network of Sun SparcStation 20s and 10s, PowerMacs and Pentium PCs with multimedia capabilities; SparcStation 1000 Server; over 400 gigabytes of mass storage; Hewlett Packard K220 Server, HP Disk Array, HP 600fx Jukebox and subsystem; LiveWorks LiveBoard; scanners, digital cameras and virtual reality equipment.


Graduate Students


The Center for the Study of Digital Libraries gratefully acknowledges the corporate support of the Hewlett-Packard Company; Knowledge Systems, Inc.; and Informix Software, Inc.


Center for the Study of Digital Libraries,
Texas A&M University,
College Station,
Texas 77843-3112,
Tel: 01-409-862-3217
Fax: 01-409-847-8578