Two university innovators bridge the gap between web and library resources

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 23, 2007 – Virginia Tech's Annette Bailey, digital assets librarian with University Libraries, and Godmar Back, assistant professor of computer science in the College of Engineering, are helping to bridge the gap for researchers between library-owned resources and web-based resources.

For their efforts in the creation and development of LibX, an open source Firefox browser extension that delivers library resources to users by seamlessly integrating them into the browser, Bailey and Back are the 2007 recipients of the LITA/Brett Butler Entrepreneurship Award.

Sponsored by the Library and Information Technology Association, a division of the American Library Association, the national award is given each year to recognize exemplary entrepreneurship in providing an innovative product or service designed to meet the needs of the library world.

“LibX is a creative use of browser extension technology for library applications which enhances the delivery of library resources to end users,” said Janet Lee-Smeltzer, chair of the award committee. “The committee selected Ms. Bailey and Dr. Back for their exemplary innovation in the use of technology and entrepreneurship in developing LibX.”

Since the creation of the World Wide Web, and particularly since search engines such as Google made it easier to discover relevant online resources, many students and faculty have bypassed library online and print resources in favor of open web resources. The LibX Virginia Tech edition helps to reconnect web surfers at Virginia Tech to resources available at the University Libraries, through the use of the features listed below and more:

A toolbar provides direct access for searching the library catalog, Addison.

Highlighting and right-clicking on an ISSN, ISBN, Cross-Ref DOI, or PubMed ID allows the user to immediately discover whether the library provides access to that item, whether online or in print.

“Web localization” is available via embedded cues – if you are in Amazon, Google, the New York Times Book Review, or many other websites, you will see a Virginia Tech shield that provides a one-click Addison search.

Since Bailey and Back’s creation of LibX for Virginia Tech in 2005, 46 academic and public libraries have adopted their own versions of the browser extension. In addition, 83 libraries are currently testing editions.

Bailey and Back also recently received a 2006 Institute of Museum and Library Services National Leadership Grant of $165,364 to support the ongoing development of LibX.

As part of the grant project, a LibX extension for Internet Explorer is under construction, and is expected to become available later this year. The LibX extension for Firefox at Virginia Tech has already been downloaded more than 1,000 times.

About the University Libraries
A member of the Association of Research Libraries, the University Libraries at Virginia Tech provide and promote access to information resources for the achievement of the University's objectives in teaching, learning, research, creativity, and community service. The University Libraries are dedicated to meeting the information, curricular, and research needs of students, faculty and staff of the Virginia Tech community, wherever located, in a manner that respects the diversity of community and ideas.

Luke Vilelle wrote this story.