Going nowhere fast

I was surprised to read articles from five and ten years ago which sounded exactly the same as a digital library article written today.  In fact, I found it slightly discouraging that in the past ten years librarians have not worked though more of their concerns.  How has the profession not solved issues such as better communication between libraries and computer scientists?  Why do we still struggle with how best to tackle long-term preservation?  Truly we should have a better handle on what users want from a digital library.

It is possible my view is overly harsh since it is likely academic and public libraries have gone through the digital library frontier at various speeds.  Of course it would be nice to graduate from an LIS program with these problems sorted through and on their way to being solved.  Is it possible however that each individual library must solve this problem on their own in order to fit the needs of their community?

In the end, this idea of serving a community is what sets a digital library apart from a simple database of information.  A library is not just a collection of information but a place to put that information in context.  I believe the Lagoze, et.all (2005) article was the best at articulating this idea when the authors spoke of building a more “expansive view of digital library” interaction.  At first the goal of a digital library might have been to quickly get anything up on the web so we could feel we were not missing out. Now it is time for the library to be viewed as creating a valued serve in the way the information is presented.  I can only hope in ten years we are still not writing papers trying to determine how best to do this.

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2 responses to “Going nowhere fast

  1. “Is it possible however that each individual library must solve this problem on their own in order to fit the needs of their community?”

    I do think that may be the solution. Our readings indicate that we as a profession lack a common definition for digital libraries and a common set of structures to use to operate digital libraries. Part of the problem seems to be that technology is constantly changing and expanding, as our user interests and needs. How can we find a one-size-fits-all solution to these problems when our libraries don’t meet that definition?

  2. It does make sense that libraries will work out their digital library in order to best match their situation. However I think having a few basic concepts that each DL shares is important. If we get an underlying structure which is the same I believe this can help users find and interact with the content. Of course, this seems to be one of the hopes for the DPLA.

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