3.00 FYI France: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us

February 15, 2007 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on February 15, 2007.

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3.00 FYI France: Ejournal and archive

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Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Ejournal subscriptions may be obtained via email request to: kessler@well.sf.ca.us

Here this file is one of a number made available -- hopefully attractively, all in one place, and relevant to libraries and online digital information work in France and Europe -- as part of FYI France (sm)(tm), an online service to which anyone can subscribe for 12 months by postal mailing a check for US $45, payable to Jack Kessler, to PO Box 460668, San Francisco, California, USA 94146 (site licenses also are available): please write your email address on the front of your check. And you can pay via PayPal, on the FYI France homepage:


Please email suggestions for improvements to me at kessler@well.sf.ca.us




Digital libraries: Narbonne


At Narbonne, the médiathèque there,

-- presents some fascinating online scanned images and texts, now, at their "Bibliothèque Virtuelle" --

-- where 32 online books currently are available, including,

The sophisticated interface accompanying the downloads allows you to page-through each -- bending down corners for you to click on, then elegantly turning the page, "just like a 'book'" -- or it can mount a slide-show, for a more rapid read-through.

The downloads require Adobe's free FlashPlayer version 9,0,28,0 : there is an easy onsite link providing that. Be sure you get it or already have it, though, before you begin the process. The site also does not work in the Safari web-browser, on a Mac: works fine in Mozilla Firefox/W2000 on a Mac, though -- altho not on Firefox/FreeBSD -- also works fine in Internet Explorer on a pc.



A few... mostly methodological variety -- general observations, suggestions for improvement maybe -- call it a wish-list --

* Download speeds for this excellent digital library service were slow, for me: too slow... I don't know the size of the files, but the "58 pages" of the first I tried took 5 minutes to get, at 1068 kbps DSL speeds at my end. A second file took a matter of seconds, but then subsequent files took many minutes each. The Narbonne source could use more bandwidth, perhaps, or more server capacity, or maybe it's that "sophisticated interface"...

These jpegs are tiny: 26k, 19k, 28k, 10k, each. Downloading 100 of these per file may take some time -- i.e. 100 images @ 25 kbytes apiece = 2500 kbytes... 2.5 mbytes... But with broadband nowadays that's not much: at my 1068k bits per second rate today that ought to have taken many seconds, to get the full "book", but not many minutes.

The slow speeds are not due to file data size, then, maybe more to the software which operates the interface? Although that seems to come down quickly -- it comes up on-screen rapidly, anyway -- but then that software laboriously goes through the process of downloading the file, very slowly, page by page, taking forever.

So perhaps something profitably might be tweaked, in that last downloading step... something about the way the interface software receives & processes the downloaded pages, maybe... Wherever and whatever the problem is, there is a "too slow" link in all of this, somewhere. As Roy Tennant tells audiences, "You never can have enough bandwidth..."

* The "print" option provided soaks up black ink: and that is expensive, at $30 per cartridge nowadays. But it's not the fault of the software... The images are mounted on a black background, which seems logical for contrast-&-general-appearance purposes: looks "cool", when it first pops up in the browser... Printing that, though, can show a tiny image against all that black: then pages come out wet, and $ fly out the window. So designers must consider such backgrounds carefully: do something to print only the image, or make the background white for printing.

* Image capture is a workaround, then, and more useful on this particular digital library site than the print feature: choose "print" using the interface software, transferring the image from the interface to your browser screen -- but rather than actually printing it from there, instead save it as an image. Your imaging software can get rid of that black background, if it doesn't do so anyway automatically on the "save", and then the image itself can be enlarged, enhanced, otherwise doctored, printed.

* But the site's current 300dpi is not enough... for enlarging on the site itself, or for that plus other functions in imaging software... 600 dpi, standard on most scanners now, would be better: yes the image size doubles, but with DSL/broadband that isn't the "download speed" problem nowadays. The Getty Museum once tested art historians, pitting black & white photo glossies against digital, and found 1200 dpi was the threshold for their not being able to tell the difference. Most of us aren't art historians, but we do need to be able to see and use things.

* The "enlargement" feature in the interface works wonderfully, otherwise: point & click & hold, then move the frame using the mouse, to move the enlarged image around the page -- although this is not entirely clear, from the interface, and it should be. Designers need to remember, "Users don't read 'Help' pages".

* As currently designed, too, or maybe it's a bug, clicking on the "return to list" feature currently closes the FlashPlayer page and loses its downloaded file. For simultaneous reading and comparing of multiple files, then -- for example the different editions of the Erasmus, here, or of the Nef des Fous -- best not to use "return to list", instead leave the separate FlashPlayer window open and go back to the browser, to open a second FlashPlayer window for receiving and showing the second file.

* Finally and most importantly, though: any "digital library" offering "books" needs to offer full bibliographic description...

A citation certainly would be useful, too, as a minimum; but in the case of famous ancient and rare books such as these, a complete "rare books and manuscripts" description also is needed, to guide the user through what she or he is seeing.

So much has been written about several of these items... The images are fascinating and could stand alone. But knowing in advance that they might be the work of a Holbein or a Dürer greatly enhances the experience of viewing them here.

This particular site seems to be planning the addition of such information: its "print" function pages show "Commentaire:" currently followed by blank space -- so perhaps the plan is to provide for further explanation and citation and bibliographic description and links and so on, there. Hopefully so.

* This Narbonne "Bibliothèque Virtuelle" is a wonderful digital library site: a project offering great development potential, and an outstanding model for others.






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M. Eiffel

Copyright © 1992- by Jack Kessler, all rights reserved.
W3 site maintained at http://www.fyifrance.com
Document maintained by: Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us
Last update: March 5, 2007