3. Resource Sharing and Strategy Analysis
3.1 The Meaning of University Book Resource Sharing
The core of resource sharing is reciprocity. Participants contribute resources needed by other members, and members can get resources contributed by others according to their own needs [ 11
]. The necessary conditions for the establishment of resource sharing include resources that can be allocated on demand, members who participate in resource sharing, and strategies to facilitate resource sharing. For general libraries, in the process of realizing resource sharing, participants are several libraries [ 12
]. They collectively provide all library functions and allocate different functions reasonably to reduce information isolation, integrate redundant information resources, and improve resource utilization rate.
The development of resource sharing  can be roughly divided into three stages: book resource sharing, which began in the 1980s, literature resource sharing in the 1990s, and information resource sharing from the mid-1990s to the present.
University books are the main access to educational resources in colleges and universities. Initially, teachers and students acquire teaching resources by themselves via the Internet. However, this process is often time-consuming and laborious, making it difficult to ensure resource accuracy [ 14
]. After that, the emergence of digital books provides new ways for teachers and students to access [ 15
]. Digital book resources are organized orderly and have retrieval functions, but it is almost impossible for a single library to build a comprehensive digital library that satisfy users, from the aspect of finance or literature resources. Therefore, multiple libraries join together to share resources.
The sharing of resources cannot be accomplished overnight. It is necessary to consider the relationship between government policies, manpower arrangements, and other factors when designing the structural relationship between libraries in order to realize electronic resources. Therefore, the strategy of centralized and distributed sharing is put forward.
3.2 The Strategy of Centralized and Distributed Sharing
From the perspective of system theory, resource sharing strategies include centralized sharing strategy, distributed sharing strategy, and centralized-distributed sharing strategies. These three kinds of sharing strategies are analyzed with examples.
The structure of a resource management platform.
3.2.1 Centralized sharing strategy
The resource management platform is a software for resource sharing developed by a company. Its resource sharing is centralized, featured by low cost and easy use. The software is primarily used in primary and secondary schools. The structure of the support system is shown in Fig. 1. Only one server is used to manage the entire system, including the storage and classification of electronic resources. The other application server is responsible for responding to users and transmitting instructions to the master server. In this system, users can search, upload, and download electronic resources on school’s web pages through a browser without having to install a specific client . Although it is very convenient, there are some problems.
(1) Only one server is used to respond to users and connect to the database. Once the number of visitors sharply increases, the data flow will expand, causing a sharp increase in server load, ultimately resulting in system response slowdown and affecting usage experience.
(2) When users share resources using this strategy, range of query depends entirely on the content of resources in the master server. The update of resources depends on database updating, which imposes a heavy load on the master server.
(3) A database hard disk with large capacity is needed to ensure that the system can provide a sufficient range of resources, including those uploaded by users. However, for some useruploaded resources, their utilization rate is low, resulting in wastage of database storage space.
(4) In order to solve the above problems, more servers can be added to share the workload, but it will undoubtedly increase the overall cost of the system.
Regarding database content modification, it requires administrator authorization while users only have the ability to upload resources. The administrators are unable to update resources in time, which poses a great obstacle to resource sharing.
The structure of Network Neighborhood.
3.2.2 Distributed sharing strategy
"Network Neighborhood" is a resource sharing system unique to Windows operating system [ 17
]. It is a distributed sharing strategy. Its structure is shown in Fig. 2. Unlike the centralized distribution strategy, Network Neighborhood does not rely on a unified database for storing information resources; instead, all the user computers within the campus network act as databases and servers. Users only need to place the shared resources into the specified file and designate it as a shared file. Subsequently, other users can access this shared file through the campus network. Unlike the centralized sharing strategy, this sharing strategy is not constrained by server traffic or capacity limitations. The speed of resource sharing depends on the quality of the campus network, but the following problems exist.
(1) It is challenging for users to search for resources as they need to know the domain name of the target computer and the name of the shared file before searching. If they have not communicated beforehand, multiple skip queries will be needed.
(2) When resource files are set as shared files, the system will not notify other users. Other users may only discover this when they query, which may cause a severe information transmission lag.
(3) The storage of resources is too fragmented, requiring users to search multiple computers one by one in order to collect complete resources, which is very inconvenient.
The sketch map of ecAIMS structure.
3.2.3 Centralized-distributed sharing strategy
ecAIMS, developed by ecSolutions Corp. Ltd., is an e-commerce platform software that adopts a centralized-distributed sharing strategy . The basic structure of ecAIMS is shown in Fig. 3. The master server serves as the central controller, and the integration and gateway parts act as the subcontrollers. The central controller macroscopically controls the sub-controller, while the sub-controller possesses a relatively independent control center responsible for managing its own resources. The specific performance of the software is as follows. The integration part is connected with the master server, from which the information resources of each department of an enterprise can be obtained. The information is sent to external users after being sorted and summarized in the local repository. Moreover, information from outside the enterprise is sent to the master server and gateway part after being sorted and classified in the local database. The gateway part is connected to both the integration part and the Internet. After sorting the collected information, the integration part will send it to the gateway according to its requirements, in addition to uploading it to the master server. Subsequently, it will be transferred to other enterprise users for sharing. Moreover, it will gather relevant information from the Internet and transmit it to the integration part after local processing.
These examples show that the centralized-distributed sharing strategy not only enables a comprehensive understanding of resource sharing configuration in the entire sharing system, but also ensures optimal utilization of local resources. This strategy combines the advantages of centralized and distributed sharing strategies, overcoming their respective shortcomings. For remote heterogeneous sharing in university libraries, the centralized-distributed sharing strategy is a better solution.
3.3 Centralized and Distributed University Book Teaching Resource Sharing Platform
3.3.1 The structure of platform
The structure of the resources sharing platform is shown in Fig. 4. It is primarily divided into four parts, which includes providing series resources, providing self-built resources, customizing characteristic resources, and other functional modules.
(1) Providing a series of resources: this function provides the detailed information of the resources shared on the platform, including their type and name. Moreover, it is connected with network nodes of different resource providers that are self-consistent in order to achieve synchronous updating of platform information and sharing nodes.
(2) Providing self-built resources: This function primarily offers the school’s teaching resources, such as curriculum, teaching precedents, and test questions. Once these teaching resources are converted into electronic format on the platform, they can be freely shared. Users who are interested in a particular course at the school can get the teaching resources by others’ sharing.
(3) Customizing characteristic resources: the platform function is designed for teachers with specific needs. Teachers in need can publish help-seeking information on this platform, and those who have corresponding resources, whether they are teachers or students, can share their resources and receive corresponding remuneration. Additionally, third-party organizations can centrally collect and share information and provide feedback to the relevant departments such as the Education Bureau to strengthen targeted education construction.
The structure of the university book electronic teaching resource sharing platform.
3.3.2 Platform development environment
(1) Platform operating system: the mainstream operating systems in the market are Windows, UNIX, and Linux. In this study, the Windows operating system developed by Microsoft Corporation was chosen. The main reason for this choice is that Windows is more user-friendly for non-professional computer users, who mainly consist of teachers and students. The platform based on Windows operating system is more convenient for its users.
(2) Developing programming language: In order to facilitate the use of teachers and students, the resource sharing platform in this study adopted website services. Therefore, the active server page (ASP) programming tool developed by Microsoft Corp. was selected. ASP can enable databases to interact with other programs and develop web page applications. As a variant of Common Gateway Interface (CGI), ASP can easily and dynamically control the content of the page according to user preferences. One advantages is that only modifications to the web page document on the server is needed when updating the program.
(3) Database: The database is simply a memory with a large capacity. In order to participate in the normal application of the platform, it is necessary to manage database through relevant procedures. In this study, SQL server was selected as the database management system, which can deal with large amount of data and complete maintenance and updates through simple operations.
3.3.3 Main functions of the platform
Main functions of the platform are shown in Table 1.
Main functions of the platform
3.3.4 Use of the sharing platform
(1) Resource search: The platform’s resource search interface is shown in Fig. 5. The left interface is for searching series resources, and the right interface is for searching special resources. For example, if a user wants to search for general teaching, such as Professor XX’s classroom teaching, they just need to type “video” in the box of resource type on the series resource search interface, “XX’s classroom teaching” in the box of resource name, “XX University” in the box of the affiliated school, “general” in the box of level and finally click on “search.”
The interface of resource search.
(2) Resource release: The platform’s resource publishing interface is depicted in Fig. 6. The essential information for releasing a resource includes resource name, releaser, and contact information. For example, if someone wishes to release a video of Professor XX’s classroom teaching, they should enter “XX’s classroom teaching” in the box of resource name, “XXX” in the box of releaser, “XXXX@163.com” in the box of contact information, and then drag and drop the video file into the attachment box. Once updated, click on “confirm.”
The interface of resource release.
3.4 Comparative Experiment for Three Sharing Strategies
3.4.1 Experimental setup
The comparative experiment of the three strategies was performed on an electronic resource sharing platform established in a lab server. Firstly, a centralized sharing strategy-based sharing platform was constructed. A server in the lab was used as an intermediate server to provide centralized sharing services, which was connected to the campus library server. The campus library server regularly updated local resources as a mirror station, which was considered a master server integrating all electronic resources. Different users searched for resources in the master server through the intermediate server.
Then, the distributed sharing strategy-based sharing platform was constructed. Three servers in the lab were used as intermediate servers scattered in different places. All three servers were connected to the campus server and could only access a portion of it, but they could access each other through the network neighborhood.
Finally, the centralized-distributed sharing strategy-based sharing platform was established. A server in the lab was used as an intermediate server, which was connected to the campus library server and could also access the server of the library outside the campus.
3.4.2 Test items
(1) Comparison of resource search function: The topics of “calculus,” “artificial intelligence,” “architectural design,” and “image recognition” were searched in the server clients of the three sharing strategies, respectively. The number of the searched resources was compared.
(2) Comparison of search efficiency: First, the electronic book resources with topics such as “calculus,” “artificial intelligence,” “architectural design,” and “image recognition” were retrieved individually on the server clients of the three sharing strategies, and the average search time was recorded. Then, the topics were then retrieved in pairs, and the average search time was recorded; they were also retrieved in groups of three out of the four mentioned topics, and the average search time was recorded; finally, all four topics were retrieved simultaneously, and the average search time was recorded.
3.4.3 Testing results
It was seen from the comparison in Table 2 that 123 resources about calculus, 102 resources about artificial intelligence, 324 resources about architectural design, and 132 resources about image recognition were obtained after searching under the centralized sharing strategy. The number of resources about different subjects obtained under the distributed sharing strategy was the same as that obtained under the centralized sharing strategy. After searching under the centralized-distributed sharing strategy, there were 332 resources about calculus, 235 resources about artificial intelligence, 532 resources about architectural design, and 451 resources about image recognition. The reason for obtaining the same number of resources under the centralized and distributed sharing strategies is that the resources were sourced from the local server. Compared with the centralized and distributed sharing strategies, the centralized-distributed sharing strategy obtained more resources when searching for the same topic because it searched not only within the local server but also outside.
The number of searched resources for four topics under the three sharing strategies
Comparison of the resource search efficiency between the three strategies.
It was seen from Fig. 7 that when searching a single topic, the centralized strategy consumed 1.9 seconds, the distributed strategy consumed 1.83 seconds, and the combined centralized-distributed strategy consumed 1.50 seconds. When searching two topics simultaneously, the centralized strategy consumed 2.12 seconds, the distributed strategy consumed 1.82 seconds, and the centralized-distributed strategy consumed 1.52 seconds. When searching three topics simultaneously, the time consumption was 2.73, 1.84, and 1.53 seconds, respectively. When searching four topics simultaneously, the time consumption was 3.25, 1.85, and 1.53 seconds, respectively. Fig. 7 shows that the centralized-distributed sharing strategy was significantly more efficient than the other two strategies; with the increase of the searched topics, the search efficiency of the distributed sharing strategy and the centralized-distributed sharing strategy changed little, but the search efficiency of the centralized sharing strategy improved significantly.