site visit, the two libraries agreed upon standards and procedures for creating a joint website for
German emblems and to create a bi-level German emblem portal.
This paper surveys various definitions of portals, illustrates features that can be applied to an
emblem portal, and suggests how an emblem portal might be structured in terms of content.
I then present the plans for the UIUC and HAB emblem portal.
S o m e G e n e ra l C o n s i d e ra t i o n s a b o u t Po r t a l s
Generally, a portal has been conceived of as a gateway to information clustered around a spe-
cific topic, and offers a point of access for users to a body of information.
The portal is a start-
ing point for all information relating to a given topic - sometimes for beginners to discover
resources; sometimes it is a form of shorthand for more experienced users to access regularly
needed information, to receive updates, and to consolidate research.The content of the portal is
designed by its architects to be intellectually coherent, presenting, for example, various types of
information useful to the study and research of a specific subject and frequently also to related
fields. For an academic discipline, the content of the entire portal is frequently determined by the
person or institution hosting it, with the assurance that high quality information is easily avail-
able from a single site.The purpose of such a portal is to consolidate information concerning a
given topic and to increase both ease of access and discovery of new resources.The functionali-
ty of the portal is aimed at providing users with state of the art information in readily accessible
formats. Early portals were often conceived of as enhanced websites for designated subject areas
and interest communities. However, the concept of a portal rapidly became much more ambi-
tious, as libraries and institutions perceived the value of a single point of access to multiple
A couple of examples should make these concepts of portal clear. On a local level, many insti-
tutions, such as American universities offer a portal for a community of users - the students, fac-
ulty, and staff of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is one such user community.
The university's portal allows users various points of access to people, programs, course registra-
tion, its Nobel Prize winners, and many other kinds of information - weather, road construction,
and sports scores - about the university.The institution maintains the portal, determining its con-
tent. Individual programs at the university also offer portals to information about themselves. Such
a program is the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UIUC, which allows
the users, here students in the program, to personalize and customize the information they need
via a portal called "Myece."
While such sites can be very sophisticated, they are aimed at a uni-
fied approach to primarily local resources, such as management services (timetables, course avail-
ability and registration, room scheduling) and events (lectures, presentations). Portals like MyECE
offer students the opportunity to personalize their portal, letting them, for example, customize
the information they receive and sending them alerts about deadlines and exams.
Another type of portal is one which connects resources at a number of remote locations, but
which all adhere to the same structure. An example is Project Gutenberg which as of Autumn
2002 had posted on a number of servers world-wide nearly 7,000 electronic texts which con-
form to an established template and are searchable from a single portal.
Michael Hart, formerly
of the UIUC, conceived of the project in 1971.There are both quick search and advanced search
capabilities which easily locate digitized texts.While, in many respects, Project Gutenberg pro-
vides minimal resource accessibility in terms of search options, it fulfills the requirement of a por-
tal inasmuch as it is a clearing house for electronic texts and provides access to thousands of
digitized texts. Libraries are especially interested in developing authoritative portals, as evidenced
by the surge in interest and activity regarding portals by the leading library organizations. Citing
For a brief definition and discus-
sion of a portal, see Paul Miller,"The
Concept of the Portal," Ariadne 30
(2001) at http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/
See, for example, the volume of
essays concerning the development
of campus portals and websites pre-
senting a virtual campus: Ali Jafari
and Mark Sheehan, Designing Portals:
Opportunities and Challenges (Hershey,
PA: INFOSCI, 2002).
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