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Fulbright Student Studying Digital Library Software

28 March, 2013

Fulbright Student Studying Digital Library Software

From studying her masters in Norway, Italy and Estonia, Jennifer Whisler has chosen to spend a year studying at the University of Waikato.

Jennifer, originally from Peru, Nebraska in the US is in New Zealand as a Fulbright Fellow and is studying with the Digital Library Unit at Waikato University working with computer scientist Professor Ian Witten.

Her two-year masters degree was in digital library learning – offered by the European-based Erasmus Mundus programme that aims to enhance the quality of European higher education and to promote dialogue and understanding between people and cultures. Students are required to spend a semester at universities in Norway, Italy and Estonia.

“Professor Witten from Waikato gave a lecture when I was at the University of Parma in Italy and invited students to come to Waikato to work with him on the open source digital library system called Greenstone. I really liked what he was doing and started to look for ways to come to Waikato.” She was lucky enough to secure a Fulbright Fellowship.

Greenstone provides a way of organizing information and publishing it on the Internet or on CD-ROM. It is produced at the University of Waikato, developed and distributed in cooperation with UNESCO and the Human Info NGO. It’s being used by organisations all over the world.

Jennifer is a librarian, keen to ensure she and others like her become familiar with the Greenstone software – so librarians can build their own digital, customised online libraries. “What I like about Greenstone is its accessibility; it’s free, and multi lingual. It’s been created with a global mind set and I like the fact it can be distributed as a CD-Rom which is useful for people in developing countries.”

She says it’s relatively easy to make a collection. “The difficult part is making it look like your own – it’s certainly manageable, but when you first encounter [the software], it can be overwhelming, so my main goal is to empower users, by building a collection of resources that will make creating and especially customizing digital libraries in Greenstone easier.“

Jennifer will be at the University of Waikato until November. Fulbright New Zealand was established in 1948 to promote mutual understanding through educational and cultural exchanges between New Zealand and the United States.

Fulbright New Zealand offers more than 70 exchange awards each year – half to students and half to scholars – and more than 1600 New Zealanders and 1300 Americans have benefited from a Fulbright award. The programme is mainly funded by the US and New Zealand governments.


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