Collections: Digital Libraries
A digital library contains a carefully selected, well-organized collection(s) of text, visual, audio, and/or video information stored in a digital format; supports a variety of methods to access, view, and manipulate these collections; and provides services to meet the information needs of users.
Read other definitions at DL Self-Study: Definitions page by Edward A. Fox and Rajat Gupta from Virginia Tech.
Digital libraries come in many forms. Some focus on organizing and collecting content, while others concentrate on organizing the content of others. While some digital libraries are specialized collections focusing on a particular topic or format, others are general collections. Some digital libraries also have "brick and mortar" library buildings . Other libraries only exist on a web server.
American Memory from the Library of Congress may be the best-known digital library. Containing motion pictures, sound recordings, prints, photographs, map collections, and documents, it contains more than 7.5 million digital items from over 100 collections.
Digital libraries are different from other websites because they focus on the library aspect of their mission. Rather than simply providing webpages of content, they have a collection development policy that contains guidelines for content selection and deselection. In addition, they have guidelines for acquiring, processing, cataloging, storing, sharing, evaluating, and promoting materials.
For example, the Digital Audio-Visual Preservation Prototyping Project at the Library of Congress is exploring aspects of digital preservation and packaging digital content. They are looking for ways to store, maintain, and deliver digitally reformatted recorded sounds and moving picture materials. Rather than just posting a video on the web, they are collecting and organizing administrative (where is the original item), structural (how is the item stored), and descriptive (what is the item) metadata related to each original artifact (object) as well as the digital version. This information will be used to provide the best possible catalog.
Examine an example from the American Memories collection on Theodore Roosevelt. Notice the wealth of information.
Go to American Memory from the Library of Congress. Select a particular collection to explore. Create a form for evaluating a digital library collection. Then, use the form to evaluate this collection.
Digital Library Collections
Explore several of the digital collections, Resources, and articles in the three sections below; see if you can gain some ideas and examples of different types of materials available. Find ones that interest you. Examine a few that you have no idea what they might contain.
- Allen County Community Album at Allen County Public Library, IN
- American Memory at Library of Congress (Historical collections for the National Digital Library)
- California Heritage Collection at Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley
- Calisphere at University of California
- Colorado Virtual Library (ACLIN) at Colorado State Library
- Conversations with History at UC Berkeley's Institute of International Studies
- Digital & Digitized Collections at University of Hawaii at Manoa
- Digital Collections at University of Washington Libraries
- Digital Library Program at Indiana University
- Digital Library at Smithsonian Institution Libraries
- Great Lakes Maritime History Project at Wisconsin Collaborative Library and Museum Project
- Historylink (Online Encyclopedia of Seattle, King County and Washington State History)
- International Children's Digital Library
- Internet Movie Database (Part of the Amazon.com family of companies)
- Kentuckiana Digital Library at KY Virtual Library
- Library and Archives Canada
- Medical Student.com (Authoritative medical information for all students of medicine)
- Paper of Record (Searchable historical archive of full-page newspaper images- Canadian subscription site)
- Princeton University Library Digital Collections
- United States National Library of Medicine
- University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
- Windows on the Past at Cornell University Library
- British Columbia International Digital Library
- Digital Archives & Collections: Databases & E-Resources - Directory at Library of Congress
- Digital Collections and Programs at the Library of Congress
Magazine - electronic publication with a primary focus on
digital library research and development
- Ready Reference from D-Lib Magazine
- DL Self Study: Contents (Course materials by Edward A. Fox & Rajat Gupta from Virginia Tech)
- Educator's Reference Desk
Digital Library Articles and Projects
- Audio / Video Capture and Management (Chapt. 7 of Guide to Good Practice) from the National Initiative for a Networked Cultural Heritage Materials (NINCH)
- Building Digital Collections - Technical information and background papers from the National Digital Library Program (NDLP) at the Library of Congress
- Digital Library Federation from the Council of Library and Information Resources (CLIR).
- Digital Libraries: Issues and Architectures from the Center for the Study of Digital Libraries, Texas A&M University
- Digital Project Guidelines (PDF document) from Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records
- KYVL Kentuckiana Digital Library Project (June 2002) from D-Lib Magazine
- Preservation Handbook: Digital Audio (July 2005) (PDF Document) from Arts and Humanities Data Service
- Proposal For Educational Fair Use Guidelines For Digital Images, A (1996) from CONFU (Conference on Fair Use)
- Sound Directions: Best Practices for Audio Preservation from Indiana University Digital Library Program
- Web Video Guidelines from University of Texas at Austin
Virtual Field Trips and Museums
Virtual field trips and museums are closely related to digital libraries. Like libraries they organize, archive, and provide access to materials. In addition, virtual field trips and museums provide a specialize "front-end" that guides users through the materials.
A virtual field trip helps you explore a place you might not be able to visit face-to-face. Like a walking tour, the content takes you step-by-step through an adventure.
A virtual museum replicates the exhibits, resources, and experiences of an actual museum. Like a virtual field trip, many virtual field trips help you experience the museum as you would if you were physically visiting the museum.
Go to Teacher Tap: Virtual Field Trips and Museums for links to good resources.
Skim the off-site article As We May Think(Jul 1945) by Vannevar Bush in The Atlantic Online (The Atlantic Monthly; 176(10), 101-108). Many people consider this to be the first vivid description of the philosophy behind the Internet, global information sharing, hyperlinking, and digital libraries work. Describe your vision of tomorrow's library.