IEEE TCDL Bulletin
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TCDL Bulletin
Volume 3   Issue 2
Summer 2007


A Performance Support Systems Approach
to Digital Publishing in Libraries

Chuck Thomas
Digital Initiatives Librarian
Florida Center for Library Automation
5830 NW 39th Ave.
Gainesville, FL 32606
<cthomas at>
Robert H. McDonald
Associate Director of Libraries for Technology & Research
Florida State University
105 Dogwood Way
Tallahassee, FL 32306-2047
<rmcdonald at>


Electronic performance support tools are being adopted widely in many work environments. To date, libraries have mostly ignored the potential benefits of such systems, even though they offer great promise for improving areas like digital publishing. This paper details a pilot project at the Florida State University Libraries to adopt inexpensive performance support systems for three types of digital publishing. Overall, the performance support strategy was judged as very helpful in improving productivity and quality control for digital publishing.

Gery (1997) postulated that the best performance support systems begin with two assumptions: no training will be available, and staff user interfaces must be redesigned to reflect the lack of training. At FSU, we found across all categories of digital publishing where performance support templates were introduced, the results were very encouraging. Errors in the structure and formatting of metadata and documents were eliminated almost totally, whereas previously such errors had been common and time-consuming to correct. Quality control for archival finding aids, digital collections metadata and research guides now is focused more exclusively on the content of their information. Automating tasks like entering boilerplate data and prompting authors to input required has resulted in a higher quality and greater consistency of the information in all of these digitally published documents. These improvements are clear even with structured documents that already were guided by formal standards, such as archival inventories adhering to the Encoded Archival Description standard.

Gloria Gery, 1997. "Granting three wishes through performance-centered design," Communications of the ACM 40:7 (July), pp. 54-59.

For an example of one of our Encoded Archival Description Finding Aids see Bernard F. Sliger Collection Finding Aid.

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For a larger view of Figure 1, click here.
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For a larger view of Figure 2, click here.
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For a larger view of Figure 3, click here.
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For a larger view of Figure 4, click here.

© Copyright 2007 Chuck Thomas and Robert H. McDonald
Some or all of these materials were previously published in the Proceedings of the 6th ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital libraries, ACM 1-59593-354-9.

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