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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Summer 2002

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[Board accepted]

NSF-NSDL GREEN Project: A Digital Library Partnership of Academia, Government, and Industry

Laura M. Bartolo
Associate Professor
Applied Linguistics Institute
Kent State University

Dr. Vinod K. Tewary
Materials Reliability Division
National Institute of Standards & Technology, Boulder

Gregory M. Shreve
Professor and Director
Applied Linguistics Institute
Kent State University

Adam C. Powell IV
Thomas B. King Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Marcia L. Zeng
Associate Professor
Library and Information Science
Kent State University


The Green's Function Research and Education Enhancement Network (GREEN) is part of the National Science Foundation's National Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Digital Library (NSDL-STEM) Program ({}). The NSF GREEN digital library is a collaboration of materials scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and other universities partnered with information scientists at Kent State University. The primary goal of the collaboration is to build a collection of authoritative digital resources integrating education and research in the area of Green's functions.

"Collaboration Dreams"

Science catalyzes collaboration and multidisciplinary projects. In his guest editorial article entitled "Collaboration Dreams" L.M. Simmons, Jr. reflected on the nature and need for collaboration in the 21st century and the role digital libraries might play. To build robust multidisciplinary research environments, he noted "More commonly, progress is made by groups of individuals who either collaborate actively with each other or who build sequentially on each other's works. "By fostering collaboration, we enable not only bursts of extraordinary creative genius but also enhance the productivity of large numbers of individuals on whose labors most progress depends" (Simmons 1997). However as the title of his article suggests, collaboration is what one hopes to achieve but must labor to reach. The National Research Council observed in its recent report entitled "Scientific Research in Education" that partnerships can yield "intellectual capital" that would not be possible in isolation but that collaborations are difficult to develop (National Research Council 2002). Both Simmons' article and the National Research Council report underscore that a successful collaboration builds upon a long-term relationship, a sense of trust and respect, and the free exchange of ideas across different disciplines and institutions. The GREEN project, as part of the NSF National Science Digital Library Program, is a collaboration of information scientists and material scientists from academe, government and industry who are working together to link their individual expertise to build the content, technical infrastructure, and collaborative framework as a secure basis for the digital library.

Government Partnership: The NSF National Science Digital Library Program

The National Science Foundation launched the NSDL program to stimulate and sustain ongoing gains in the quality of science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education. Building the foundation since 1994, NSF began the NSDL pilot program in 2000 and the full program in 2001 with projects in core integration, collections, services, and targeted research (Zia 2001). These individual digital library projects comprising the NSDL program are engaged in a collective effort to build a national digital library to support the needs of learners and researchers and to facilitate the integration of research and education in formal and informal settings. The goal of the NSDL program is to construct the premier portal for current and future high-quality educational and research content, providing seamless access to a rich array of interactive materials and resources, "distinguished by the depth and breadth of the subject matter addressed, and valued for its authority and reliability (Zia 2001)." The GREEN Project led by the KSU team is building the information infrastructure for a comprehensive materials science digital library that conforms to the guidelines for an NSDL-STEM digital library (Wattenberg 1998; Arms 2002).

Multidisciplinary, Multi-Institutional Partnerships: NIST and Working Groups

Collaboration with scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology provides expertise in key material science areas. NIST's mission is to strengthen the U.S. economy and improve the quality of life by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements, and standards. The Center for Theoretical and Computational Materials Science (CTCMS) integrates ongoing research in industry, academia, NIST, and other governmental labs by forming Working Groups -- multidisciplinary and multi-institutional research teams -- to use the nation's talents and resources effectively to attack key materials issues. A NIST CTCMS Green's Functions Working Group was formed with physicists, mathematicians, and engineers in 1994 to pursue a number of important education, research and application goals in the area of Green's Functions. The Working Group has hosted numerous workshops bringing researchers, educators, and industry together. One goal identified at a NIST Green's Functions Working Group Workshop was the construction of a digital library of Green's functions solutions for materials design (Tewary & Berger 1994). Information science researchers at Kent State University joined the Green's Function Working Group in 1999 to build toward this goal for an online work space to foster remote communication and collaboration for basic and applied research and education.

Green's Functions

Green's functions and the boundary-element method are powerful and popular mathematical tools used for modeling the mechanical and thermal response of materials. Because of their importance in modeling and simulation, Green's functions are taught across a broad array of disciplines, including mathematics, physics, civil and environmental engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, geophysics, and mechanical engineering at the undergraduate and graduate levels. For example, Green's functions play an important role in numerical simulations and have even been used to predict the time histories of hypothetical earthquakes. (Rossett 1998) At a recent meeting of the Green's Functions Working Group, a mechanical engineering scientist lamented the fact that most upper division engineering and materials science students receive little training in Green's functions, as well as boundary and finite element methods (Tewary, Bartolo & Powell 2002).

The GREEN Digital Library Partnership

The GREEN project has two primary research objectives: (1) to implement a solution for transforming and expanding digital resources relating to Green's functions from useful individual digital resources to an NSDL digital library; and (2) to enhance the educational value of the library by applying an education-oriented metadata schema, IEEE Learning Object Metadata schema, (Cover 1999) and a content-oriented markup language (NIST MatML 2001) to the collection.

In partnership with NIST, a consortium of material science and engineering experts from university, industry, and government contribute to the NSF GREEN Digital Library and serve as an editorial board for evaluating contributions from other participants. The Editorial Board of the GREEN project will select and provide high quality research and education Green's functions resources:

  1. Problem Bank: A bank of available problems, introduced by industrial members of the consortium and the community at large,
  2. Literature Bank: A list of citations to relevant literature, and published/unpublished works subject to copyright restrictions, with links elsewhere for additional information, and
  3. Teaching Bank: A collection of lecture/course notes from existing university courses, as well as providing a form for discussion of approaches to teaching this material.

The materials science and education oriented metadata tagging and the XML-based information infrastructure by information scientists in the GREEN Project will enable reliable discovery and delivery of quality research and teaching resources for virtual learning communities.

The GREEN project is completing the first year of its two-year funding period and preliminary results include:

  1. A co-hosted conference, and presentations at the "Green's Functions Experts Meeting" held March 2002 in Boulder Colorado
  2. A {collection web site}. The collection will be permanently hosted at NIST,
  3. Development of a {custom XML document type description} of Green's functions equations called GreenML,
  4. Development of {specialized XSL stylesheet programs} for MatML, IEEE-LOM and GreenML documents and
  5. Specialized markup editors and submission forms for GREEN collection materials. (See quick submission form: {})

The GREEN collection is slated to go online with the December, 2002 launch of the NSDL.

Acknowledgements: Support for this work has been made available through the National Science Foundation Directorate for Education and Human Resources Division of Undergraduate Education, DUE-0121545.


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Cover, R. 1999. The XML Cover Pages. IEEE LTSC XML Ad Hoc Group. [Online]. Available: {} [April 25, 2002].

National Institute of Standards and Technology. 2001. MatML DTD Version 2.0. [Online]. Available: {} [April 25, 2002].

National Research Council. 2002. Scientific Research in Education. Washington: National Academy Press [Online]. Available: {} [April 25, 2002].

Rosset, Ph. Wagner, J.-J. Garcia-Fernandez, M. and Jimenez, M. J. 1998. Time-History Prediction With Empirical Green's Functions; First Attempts In The Framework Of The European Project Sergisai, XXVI General Assembly of the European Seismological Commission, August 23-28, 1998, Tel Aviv, Israel. [Online]. Available: {} [April 25, 2002].

Simmons, Jr, L.M. 1997. Collaboration Dreams. D-Lib Magazine [Online]. Available: [April 25, 2002].

Tewary, V.K., Berger J.R. 1994. Green's Functions and Boundary Element Analysis for Modeling the Mechanical Behavior of Advanced Materials. NIST Workshop Report. [Online]. Available: {} [April 25, 2002].

Tewary, V.K., Bartolo L.M., Powell A.C. 2002. Green's Functions Experts Meeting and the GREEN Digital Library. NIST Workshop Report. [Online]. Available: [April 25, 2002].

Wattenberg, Frank. 1998. A National Digital Library for Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education. D-Lib Magazine 4(9) [Online]. Available: [August 22, 2002].

Zia, Lee L. 2001. Growing a National Learning Environments and Resources Network for Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education: Current Issues and Opportunities for the NSDL Program. D-Lib Magazine 7(3) [Online] Available: march01/zia/03zia.html [April 25, 2002].

Zia, Lee L. 2001. The NSF National Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education Digital Library (NSDL) Program. D-Lib Magazine 7(11) [Online]. Available: [April 25, 2002].

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