background image
DigiCULT
.
Info
25
I
NTERFACES
FOR
DIGITAL
LIBRARIES
AT
CNAM (1993-2003)
P
IERRE
C
UBAUD
, J
ÉRÔME
D
UPIRE
AND
A
LEXANDRE
T
OPOL
,
CEDRIC, C
ONSERVATOIRE
N
ATIONAL
DES
A
RTS
ET
M
ÉTIERS
(CNAM,
HTTP
://
WWW
.
CNAM
.
FR
)
can see that the Web interfaces for DLs do
not offer a comfort of use sufficient enough
to overcome the restricted role of facsimiles
for remote printing. Fortunately, low-cost
3D graphic hardware and high bandwidth
infrastructures for the Internet (e.g. cable
and DSL) are becoming more common-
ly available and are now widely used by
our users. New visualisation and interac-
tion methods for online digital libraries
can therefore be investigated to solve some
of the common problems inherent in 2D
interfaces.
W
e believe that 3D interaction can
offer a better understanding of the
three main functions of an online DL user
interface:
· Catalogue browsing and searching;
· Navigation within the selected docu-
ments, and
· Annotations and bookmark archiving.
L
et us first describe how these three
steps are handled within the CNum
and more generally in many standard dig-
ital libraries using common Web technolo-
gies (HTML files and scripts). Figure 1 is
a screen-shot of a probable user session.
Browsing through textual lists is the only
method offered to the user for evaluating
the DL corpus. A book's content (e.g. chap-
ters and plates) is sequentially described in
another window. Cross-reading between
books of the CNum and others from relat-
ed Web services (such as the ABU) is made
possible by opening multiple overlapping
windows. No authoring tool is provided and
CNum users rely on their local bookmark-
ing, archiving, and word processing facilities.
INTRODUCTION
D
igital libraries (DL) technologies
have benefited during the past dec-
ade from the impressive increase in digital
data capture, storage, and transmission capa-
bilities along with the consequent fall of
their cost. The widespread use of the World
Wide Web also enables digital libraries to
be explored by a very large, internation-
al population. For example, the
Association
des Bibliophiles Universels (ABU, http://abu.
cnam.fr), begun in October 1993, today has
thousands of books downloaded daily and
has become one of the most active French-
speaking cultural Web sites. Another digital
library, the Conservatoire Numérique (CNum,
http://cnum.cnam.fr), was put online in
January 2000 after being created in January
1998 from a partnership between the
library of the CNAM, the research cen-
tre for the history of technologies, and the
computer science research laboratory. Three
hundred reproductions of old scientific and
technical books are accessible on this Web
site. These digital libraries are accessible
online with a WWW-based interface and a
standard architecture.
A
ccording to e-mails sent to the Web
masters, these straightforward WWW
services seem to meet users' needs. For
ABU, texts are easily and quickly accessi-
ble (100 Kb is sufficient to encode a whole
book without any compression). Accessing
the CNum does not require high levels of
computational power, and the GIF file for-
mat means that information is delivered
in a suitable manner for average dial-up
Internet connectivity. However, by looking
at ten years of recorded activity (logs), one
Fig 1: Screenshot of a working session with CNUM
©
CNAM,

2004