Each of the definitions of a digital library that we read this week made mention of the data in the DL and the agency that created the DL. The emphasis on how it’s created or what the structure should be or how open it should be is dependent on the author’s purpose. The spectrum of agencies creating DLs, their fields of interest, and the types of data that they’re interested in change the emphasis of the definition in order to suit their needs. Borgman’s article sets this out fairly succinctly, but it’s evident in the rest of the reading too. Twidale and Nichols’ chapter is a great example. They focus on the setup of the DL rather than retrieval of information or an attempt to understanding the audience or the purpose of the library. Since the chapter is for potential librarians, this makes sense, but may cause slight myopia on the topic for those students. Having multiple definitions is a good tactic if we’re interesting in defining the different facets of DLs, but without opening ourselves up to the definitions set out by other fields, we won’t be able to write one specific overarching definition.
Borgman really wants to have specific, citable definition for a DL. I preferred Levy’s article; he articulated, far better than I can, that if we attempt to pin this definition down too forcefully, we’re doing ourselves a disservice. With DLs we’re attempting to create an experience that allows an audience to retrieve and use information, while also preserving and hosting data that may or may not currently be needed. The ever-changing face of the audience and the data makes this a difficult enough task. Trying to include a concrete definition that serves all fields of study may not be the most pressing issue here.