It is widely recognized that simple access to digital information is not enough. Tools and strategies are needed to sift through what can be thought of as a beach full of information when you are looking for a grain of sand. One digital sieve that is gaining momentum in the library is the application. On August 12, 40 coders gathered at the National University of Singapore (NUS) to create 16 such applications for Elsevier's SciVerse platform in the first annual Singapore Code Jam (SGCodeJam24). SciVerse integrates ScienceDirect and Scopus, as well as full-text journal and repository content from the scientific web, with community-developed applications to synthesize content and supplement results.
"In many disciplines, including sciences and humanities, there is a greater reliance on computer science and programming skills for support; the Code Jam was an opportunity to put the focus on this burgeoning area," said Min-Yen Kan, an Associate Professor in the NUS School of Computing who organized the event at NUS in partnership with Elsevier. "My group also mainly does digital library research, in which SciVerse and Scopus are some of the best examples. I wanted to host the contest to promote the visibility and importance of digital libraries."
Students from NUS, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Management University, and Temasek Polytechnic spent 24 hours developing the applications. Six judges from academia and industry selected four applications for top honors.
"A number of criteria were used in evaluating the applications," said Kenneth Lim, one of the judges who is a Senior Librarian at the NUS Medical/Science Library. "Accuracy and reliability of the information retrieved were of prime importance. The value of the application in solving a real world problem and its ease of use were also considered. Finally, bonus points were awarded for innovation and visual appeal."
Lim articulated the importance of applications in terms of one the library's core missions — creating value from information. "Applications are the additional tools that enhance the value of data through the linking of various databases, presenting the user with a new perspective of the information. From defining unfamiliar terms to visually representing relationships of authors working in similar fields, these applications can simplify and aid our users in their discovery of scientific research."