What a DL Is and Isn’t

So far from the readings I don’t think anyone has a complete definition of a digital library, though the Kuny and Cleveland do a decent job of defining it by defining what it isn’t.  They say the internet isn’t a digital library, and I agree with them it isn’t.  They then go on to debunk some other myths about the digital library which help frame what a digital library isn’t, but they don’t really get close to defining what it actually is..  From all of the readings I have found that it can be ok to have a loose definition of what a digital library is, since there seem to be so many, as long as it has a few common characteristics (which in turn, I guess could define what one is).  I think minimally a digital library should be:

1. Digital. (kind of the defining term here and a “no brainer,” but it separates it from a print library)

2. Serve a defined community.  It has to be relevant to someone.

4. Be more than one entry.  Just like one book isn’t a library collection, neither is one entry a digital library collection.

3. Have fast, effective, efficient and free access.  This one takes away the internet argument because the internet really isn’t that efficient.

There probably are a few more, but I think intrinsically these four should be met for something to be a digital library.  I got some of these from Schwartz, but I don’t think all of the items she lists are necessary for something to be a digital library.

I also think there is a tough time defining what a digital library is because of the two main viewpoints, which came up in the readings, of who is defining it.  It is defined differently depending on if it is a programmer or a librarian defining it.


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