Digital: What does it mean?

When it comes to digital things that question is often, “what does it do?” This is true even when it comes to digital libraries and digital librarians. What’s a library if there are no physical books? What does a librarian do if there are no physical things?  Beyond what they do there is a question of where they are going?

So what is a digital library? As Borgman and others discuss pinpointing what is a digital library is a challenge. Digital collections come in a variety of media and formats from ebooks to digital archives, all of them are a part of digital library. I would define a digital library as a multi-faceted collection of items that are all in digital format that may be stored in digital repository of some kind.

Defining a digital librarian is a little more challenging. Is it only librarian’s with digital or emerging technology in their job titles? Are librarian’s helping users navigate ebooks not a digital librarian? Are they only librarians? Do they manage collections? Help others navigate the collections? For me, anyone who creates, manages, or specializes in digital collections.

Both my definitions are very broad but I feel that it is representative of digital collections. They shouldn’t be able to be pinpointed exactly, they should be constantly changing and evolving as technology advances. Being too specific would ground the collection or librarian and leaving it dated. The final element of digital collections is that they are able to change and evolve, unlike physical collections that are tied to their printing and pages.

Define digital? A collection of materials in digital formats that are stored in a repository that is managed by a digital librarian who helps oversee  the collections that continually evolve and change with the technology and times.


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