Fast Data Sharing With ebrary’s DASH!
Paula J. Hane
Posted On January 14, 2010
The Academic Complete digital content collection from ebrary has proven to be a valued resource in many academic settings. It offers multiuser access to a searchable database of more than 45,100 titles in all subject areas. Now, subscribing academic libraries can opt to add their own PDF content to the collection with ebrary's newly announced DASH! Not only does the new tool provide "Data Sharing-Fast," it's free to use. The self-serve DASH! feature now provides libraries with the tools and framework to build and share their own digital collections within their institutions, with other organizations, or to make them freely available on the web.
"When we demonstrate ebrary to potential customers, the first question most often asked is if they can add their own content," says Christopher Warnock, CEO of ebrary. "While the answer has always been yes with our SaaS offerings, where our technicians handle everything from nuts to bolts, librarians now have a cost-effective, do-it-yourself option for uploading, integrating, and sharing information."
"DASH! is really a progression of our core technology, which turns PDF files into searchable, highly interactive databases in a very powerful and cost-effective way," says Kevin Sayar, president of ebrary. "By making this capability available as a self-serve feature to our global community of Academic Complete customers, we can empower librarians to further facilitate knowledge and ideas. DASH! is just the tool. How librarians use it is entirely up to them."
Sayar says the idea for providing the self-serve feature came from librarians. They told him that one of their biggest pain points is the inability to take charge of their electronic content. And the cost of using a full-service SaaS offering is prohibitive for many libraries. But for those librarians willing to put the effort into this, including inputting metadata during upload, DASH! could be a very cost-effective solution. At this time, the service is only being made available to ebrary's academic customers, not to corporate customers or public libraries.
The WALDO blog (Westchester Academic Library Directors Organization; http://waldolib.wordpress.com/2010/01/11/dash) declared the new DASH! a hot deal. "Academic Complete is now absolutely the best value in the industry. In addition to offering unlimited multi-user access to more than 45,100 titles and InfoTools, customers can now quickly and easily upload, integrate and share their own PDF documents right from their computers at no cost with DASH!"
Allen W. McKiel, dean of library and media services at Western Oregon University and a member of ebrary's technical advisory board, says he and several of his library colleagues were impressed by seeing a demo of DASH!.
It is a very desirable feature even for small campuses like ours. We have odds and ends of resources to which we have copyright that could be included in the academic collection. It is a small step toward a critically important issue in academic libraries-the complexity of the discovery process for students and faculty because of the proliferation of packages or silos of information. The tool aids discoverability and usability. This does not solve the overall problem but it is a noteworthy step in the right direction. We were also pleased with the intent to provide it as part of the Academic Complete e-book collection for no additional cost. The initial version is fairly simple and straight forward and should be easy to implement.
When asked for what he'd like to see added to the service, McKiel replied, "DASH! could provide a framework for fairly extensive collection building and integration. It could also provide a mechanism for publishing university material as well as a personal platform for developing individual, non-shareable research collections (i.e., copyright protected material being accumulated by students or faculty in the process of research)."
ebrary will unveil the beta version of DASH! at the ALA Midwinter Conference and will be using the technology to create collections on a variety of topics including autism, natural disasters, and breast cancer in real time at the ebrary booth (#1800). The collections will be publically available after ALA, similar to ebrary's H1N1 (Influenza) Searchable Information Center at http://h1n1.ebrary.com/home.action.
ebrary will be conducting a live webcast from ALA on Sat., Jan. 16, 2010, from 8:15 a.m. to 10 a.m. EST. To sign up for the webcast visit www.ebrary.com/corp/inforequest/alamw10webcast.jsp.