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Additionally, the service includes the provision of video `surrogates' (indicators of the
video content such as storyboards or speeded-up versions, which can be downloaded
much faster than the entire clip).
In this case, the surrogates are produced automatically by a specialist application that
discards forty-seven out of forty-eight frames and re-assembles the remaining frames,
producing a `fast-forward' view of the clip with no audio information. Content owners are
encouraged to suggest a still image (one frame) which is representative of the entire clip;
this is extracted and used as a simple surrogate for the video, as well as the fast-forward
surrogate.The library staff are confident that access to these surrogates will greatly
improve the success of searches, and the individual delivery of short clips will remove the
lengthy process of searching though the videotape.
The ASP will digitise tapes and produce quick-to-download surrogates for a one-off
fee (a small discount is offered as most of the metadata is already present), and for a further
monthly subscription will manage the data, handle delivery, and enforce file security (e.g.
ensure that no workstation outwith the library can access complete clips). It will offer
technical support to the library staff where necessary. After raising concerns about data
loss, the librarians are assured that they will be provided with a backup of all data.
The ASP fees are significantly lower than the estimated cost of setting up the digital
video access and, as the monthly subscription costs less than taking on a specialist member
of staff, the library are delighted with this solution. Some preparatory work is required to
make the most of the ASP's services, which is completed within two months, and it is
agreed to employ the ASP to manage the digital video system for a minimum of five
years. A study is planned towards the end of this period to assess how the use of the
video collection has changed and to consider any further improvements that might be
Service Provision and the Digital Library The Open Archives Initiative
Up to this point, our focus has been mainly on the `rental model' of service provision, with
organisations paying monthly fees for access to hardware, software and expertise that they could not
otherwise have been able to access.There is, however, one area in which the term `service provider'
applies to something a little different. In the world of digital libraries, a definite distinction is drawn
between content providers and service providers. A digital library, or an individual digital repository,
will have many organisations from which it sources its content.This may be done by author deposit,
or by means of content/metadata harvesting. In digital libraries, the term service provider is applied
to the organisation that offers facilities to search collections, and to harvest metadata from other
collections. In this scenario, a nave librarian comes across this new meaning for the first time.
Our librarian has heard a little about ASPs, but on first reflection does not think that
this type of arrangement would necessarily be of much use or relevance in her work.
The library is already networked with other libraries in the local authority, but this
extends no further than allowing patrons to search a single online catalogue and view
the status of books held by other libraries. Rather than utilising a shared portal, the
library management systems were all supplied and installed by the same company, after
a successful tender process.
One day while reading a short newsletter article about the Open Archive Initiative
she realises that there is more to distributed service provision than she initially thought.
In digital library terms, it seems, service provision means shared search tools and harvest-
ing mechanisms rather than rented storage space or tools.
The Application
Service Model
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