View the PDF document Browsing in digital libraries: a phrase-based approach

Nevill-Manning, C. G., Witten, I. H., Paynter, G. W. (1997) Proc Digital Libraries ’97,edited by R.B. Allen and E. Rasmussen, Philadelphia, pp 230-236.

A key question for digital libraries is this: how should one go about becoming familiar with a digital collection, as opposed to a physical one? Digital collections generally present an appearance which is extremely opaque-a screen, typically a Web page, with no indication of what, or how much, lies beyond: whether a carefully-selected collection or a morass of worthless ephemera; whether half a dozen documents or many millions. At least physical collections occupy physical space, present a physical appearance, and exhibit tangible physical organization. When standing on the threshold of a large library one gains a sense of presence and permanence that reflects the care taken in building and maintaining the collection inside. No-one could confuse it with a dung-heap! Yet in the digital world the difference is not so palpable.