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Frequently Asked Questions about:

  1. What is a Digital Library?
  2. What is the New Jersey Environmental Digital Library (NJEDL)?
  3. What kind of things can be searched for at the NJEDL?
  4. What is "grey literature?"
  5. What kind of things can be cataloged at the NJEDL?
  6. How do I catalog a document on the NJEDL?
  7. Can I upload the digital documents that I catalog?
  8. Why does the NJEDL use file formats such as DjVu and PDF for downloadable documents?
  9. Can I catalog data sets, like spreadsheets or database files?
  10. Is a map considered to be GIS data or a document?
  11. How and where do I catalog a map?
  12. Can the Environmental Digital Library scan documents to create digital files?
  13. Who can I call if I need more information on the NJEDL?


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  1. What is a Digital Library?
  2. A digital library is an organized collection of digital information. It combines the structuring, gathering and cataloging of information, which libraries and archives have always done, with the digital representation that computers have made possible. Digital information can be accessed rapidly from remote sites, retained for preservation purposes, stored compactly, and searched very quickly. Contents are not limited to document surrogates; digital libraries may include data, multi-media, and other digital artifacts that cannot be represented in print, as well as links to related collections residing at dispersed, remote Web sites.

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  3. What is the New Jersey Environmental Digital Library (NJEDL)?
  4. The NJEDL is a joint initiative of NJDEP and the Rutgers University Libraries-Scholarly Communication Center ( SCC). Its purpose is to provide an online catalog and collection of digitized materials on New Jersey's environment - emanating from the state's government agencies, non-profit and non-governmental organizations, research institutes, and academic departments - for the use of students, scholars, citizens, and government officials. This mission aligns with the State of New Jersey's information clearinghouse initiatives, and is being developed through collaboration among project partners. The NJEDL can be used both for searching out documents as well as cataloging documents.

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  5. What kind of things can be searched for at the NJEDL?
  6. The NJEDL provides a catalog of many types of environmental documents, often referred to as “grey literature”. This includes many items issued by government, non-profit, or citizens groups, or educational institutions. The NJEDL collection includes reports, inventories and studies, flyers and newsletters, maps, photographs, and even data sets and multi-media material. The NJEDL also contains a Directory of Environmental Organizations, which is useful for finding local environmental groups and environmental “experts.”

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  7. What is "grey literature?"
  8. Most of the items in the NJEDL collection are considered “ephemeral” or “grey literature” - that is, they are not formally published (as a book or journal article would be) and are often unavailable through common research tools like library catalogs and indexes. The goal of NJEDL is to locate, acquire, and preserve these valuable but hard-to-find resources for citizens and researchers to use, and to make the collection digitally available - at the user’s desktop.

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  9. What kind of things can be cataloged at the NJEDL?
  10. A wide variety of documents can be cataloged. Most types of environmental documents put out by governmental, non-profit, and citizen organizations are fair game, unless they have already been formally published elsewhere (as in a book or journal article), or if they are restricted by copyright. Since the NJEDL is staffed by professional librarians, they are able to provide guidance regarding what should or should not be cataloged. It is easy to contact NJEDL staff for advice. Also, everything that is submitted is reviewed by NJEDL staff before it is included in the collection.

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  11. How do I catalog a document on the NJEDL?
  12. In order to catalog a document, you need to register by establishing a user ID and password. Once this is done, you need to follow the links to “ Submit Documents. You will be asked for your user ID and password and then be sent to the submission page.

    If you run into difficulty, note that you can review the entire help file, or get help for particular items by clicking on a term (e.g., click on “ Author/Originator to see what should be entered in this field. If you need more help, feel free to contact NJEDL staff.

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  13. Can I upload the digital documents that I catalog?
  14. Yes, digital documents can be uploaded for storage on the Rutgers NJEDL server as part of the cataloging process. Alternatively, a link can be provided to the server where the document is stored (such as an existing web site).

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  15. Why does the NJEDL use file formats such as DjVu and PDF for downloadable documents?
  16. These are file formats that have become standards for document delivery over the web, and are the primary formats for document delivery at the NJEDL. The Adobe Acrobat PDF file format was developed by Adobe and DjVu (pronounced like "deja vu") is provided by LizardTech. Since Adobe Acrobat is generally more widely accepted by users as a standard file format for digital documents, it is the preferred format for document presentation in the NJEDL.

    Generally, PDF works best for presenting documents originating in a digital form, such as Microsoft Word. DjVu, however, has proven more versatile for scanning print documents, with higher compression ratios (smaller file sizes) and a more accurate representation of the original document. Therefore, when a digital copy of a document cannot be obtained, a DjVu file will usually be created from a print version. In this case, archives are made of the scanned pages as uncompressed TIFF images.

    Browser plug-ins are required for both file types. The Adobe Acrobat plug-in and Lizardtech DjVu plug-in are both available at no charge for a variety of browser and operating system platforms. The Adobe Acrobat Reader can be obtained at the Adobe Acrobat Reader web site. The DjVu plug-in can be obtained free at the LizardTech DjVu web site

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  17. Can I catalog data sets, like spreadsheets or database files?
  18. Digital data sets can be registered at the NJEDL, following the same process for registering documents. Just remember to select “data set” as your document type. These files are commonly spreadsheet and database files.

    If your data set is a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) file, it is more appropriate to send it to the NJ Geographic Information Network (NJGIN). A GIS file would be something that is designed for use in GIS software packages.

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  19. Is a map considered to be GIS data or a document?
  20. This is not always an easy distinction to make, but generally map images are treated as documents, unless they have been spatially referenced to real world coordinates, through a process called georeferencing. If you have a map image that hasn’t been georeferenced, then it would likely be appropriate for cataloging at the NJEDL. If a map image has been georeferenced, then it can also be cataloged at the NJ Geographic Information Network (NJGIN).

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  21. How and where do I catalog a map?
  22. A map document can be registered at the NJEDL by selecting “ Submit Map Information from the submit records page. The cataloging information is similar to that needed for any other kind of document, except that you can include optional bounding coordinates information. Bounding coordinates are the limits of coverage of the mapped area expressed by latitude and longitude values for the western-most, eastern-most, northern-most, and southern-most points.

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  23. Can the Environmental Digital Library scan documents to create digital files?
  24. The NJEDL has the capability to scan documents that are not already in digital form. This is appropriate for documents where no digital copy exists, particularly older or historical documents. In addition, the NJEDL provides a “scan on demand” service, where users can request that a document be scanned if it does not currently exist in digital format. The NJEDL has equipment for scanning maps and oversized documents.

    Please note that it is much easier and less time consuming for the NJEDL to handle documents that are already in digital format (so-called “born digital" documents). These documents were likely created using word processing software and can be easily converted by NJEDL to commonly used file formats such as PDF and DjVu (see FAQ #8 for information on these file formats).

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  25. Who can I call if I need more information on the NJEDL?
  26. For additional information or assistance please contact Rutgers NJEDL staff.

    For additional information please call the NJDEP GIS Help Desk at 609-777-0672 or contact us via e-mail at gisnet@dep.nj.gov.

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Last Updated: June 19, 2014

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