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Creating, maintaining, or using a digital library requires the manipulation of digital documents. Information workspaces provide a visual representation allowing users to collect, organize, annotate, and author information. The visual knowledge builder (VKB) helps users access, collect, annotate, and combine materials from digital libraries and other sources into a personal information workspace. VKB has been enhanced to include direct search interfaces for NSDL and Google. Users create a visualization of search results while selecting and organizing materials for their current activity. Additionally, metadata applicators have been added to VKB. This interface allows the rapid addition of metadata to documents and aids the user in the extraction of existing metadata for application to other documents. A study was performed to compare the selection and organization of documents in VKB to the commonly used tools of a Web browser and a word processor. This study shows the value of visual workspaces for such effort but points to the need for subdocument level objects, ephemeral visualizations, and support for moving from visual representations to metadata.