Based on Perception

This week’s readings had me puzzling over what/how to define a digital library.  Almost all of the articles started with a preface on the beginnings of digital libraries – extending all the way back to the early 90’s….As someone who is not as tech-savvy, I found description of the digital library architecture interesting, but somewhat impermeable.  As other people have responded, I really found interesting was the continued dichotomy of perceptions about digital libraries depending on what role the person plays in the life of digital information, and what is important to the person based on what their focus is on: researchers vs. librarians vs. computer scientists vs. programmers vs. users (and any variety of mixture of all the aforementioned roles.)  I really liked Borgman’s article because of her outlining the impact the different roles had on the way you view digital libraries (specifically in section 2.1 Research versus practice). 

As both library services and materials becoming increasingly focused around technology, the definition of digital libraries will continue to evolve with it and that each profession that touches the process will need to provide input (the information architects, the librarians, and the sociologists) in order to create the most useful and function digital library possible.  I have a prime example of this happening where I work.  We have an internal “digital library” where we store interesting articles, powerpoints, lectures, notes, etc. surrounding our grantmaking.  While this “digital library” is small, it has the capability to be searched by everyone in our department, has set architecture that it’s based on, and is regularly updated.  It’s small, but functional and was built from the technology of the time (shared drives).  However, as the foundations grow they’ve indicated they would like to become an online repository/resource for other foundations, grantmakers, field experts, etc. who are interested in similar causes.  In order to make this work, it is necessary to involve all the different groups of people (architects, librarians, users) in order to garner feedback.  As the technology keeps progressing, the digital libraries will shift – I think that it’s natural that the definition will continue to change, what I think won’t change is the necessity of involving people across the spectrum of resource management / use.


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