Economics and Usage of Digital Libraries: Byting the BulletSkip other details (including permanent urls, DOI, citation information)
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5.1 Pre-PEAK experimentation with the University of Michigan
Starting in the late 1980s, Elsevier Science had been approached by several universities to do experiments with them that would test the delivery of full text to the desktop over campus local-area networks. We had discussions at the Stanford University Medical School, the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University, and Carnegie Mellon University, among others. In each case, the project would be unique to that university and, while perhaps helpful to the university, would do little to give us a test that would be scaleable or that would provide us with sufficient market data to aid in practical product development. We progressed the farthest with Carnegie Mellon and carried those discussions over into a broader forum — the newly-formed Coalition for Networked Information. At the Spring, 1991, CNI meeting, it was agreed that if ten or fifteen universities would commit to the same basic experiment, then a publisher could justify investing in the creation of a major testbed. Fifteen universities organized a project on the spot and the challenge was on.
Out of this challenge came TULIP — The University LIcensing Program. Ultimately, nine of the initial fifteen universities became a part of TULIP with the other six remaining as observers. The participants were Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Georgia Tech, MIT, the University of California (all campuses), the University of Michigan, the University of Tennessee, the University of Washington, and Virginia Tech. The experiment went live in January, 1993, and continued through 1995. Elsevier scanned print copies of initially 40 and ultimately 83 materials science journals (starting with the 1992 issues), creating TIFF files with edited, structured ASCII headers and raw OCR-generated ASCII full-text files. By the end of the project, more than 500,000 pages were in the system.
These files were shipped to each university, where they were made available to users via software systems developed at each site. Although there was a technical working group and some of the development was shared among more than one site, essentially each implementation was unique. This was the intent of the project, as the thinking at the time was that each university would want to integrate these journals with other information held on its campus and present it in its own context (e.g., within the Melville system at the University of California, where there was a central host that served all campuses).
There were three basic goals of the TULIP project: (1) to determine the technical feasibility of networked distribution, (2) to study reader usage patterns under different distribution situations, and (3) to understand — through the implementation of prototypes — alternative costing, pricing, subscription and market models that might be viable in electronic journal systems. The project was enormously successful in many ways and an incredible amount was learned, particularly about the technical issues. For example, this was in the very early days of the Internet. Elsevier Science had no Internet server expertise and had to go outside (to Engineering Information, now a part of Elsevier) to be our technical host. Initially, all shipments of files were over the Internet, but this proved unsatisfactory. Not only did we at times account for 5% of Internet traffic (the 4,000 TIFF pages sent every two weeks individually to nine sites was a slow and heavy load), but the logistics on the receiving end did not work well either. In 1994 there was a switch from push to pull shipments from our central server to the campus machines and, finally, in 1995 to delivery on CD-ROM. TULIP also made clear the need for high-speed networks in the links among the University of California campuses.
Mosaic made its appearance in the middle of the project, immediately changing the perspective from unique university installations to a generic model. Indeed, one of the participants — having developed a Unix-based system, only to find the Materials Science department. all used Macs — gave up when Mosaic appeared, as it seemed pointless to convert their Unix system for the Mac when something else was going to move in.
In the end, of the nine implementations, it was fair to say that three were very good, three were more limited but satisfactory, and three never really got underway. The outstanding player was clearly the University of Michigan. They organized their effort with a highly-motivated interdepartmental team, were the first to go live, and put up not one but three implementations. There was a general, relatively low-functionality implementation through MIRLYN (the NOTIS-based OPAC), a much higher-level functionality approach on the College of Engineering's CAEN (Computer-Aided Engineering Network) system; and finally, a web-based approach once the advantages of a web system were clear. Michigan became the TULIP lead site and they graciously showed many visitors their implementation. To some degree Michigan's involvement with JSTOR came out of its TULIP participation, or at least the expertise gained during TULIP.