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Existing Digital Content in Digital Libraries

“46% of principals say that digital content—such as videos, simulations, and animations—is having the greatest impact on transforming teaching and learning” (ALA, 2015, 9).

While some members of the public may think of digital libraries as simply providing access to ebook collections, a wide range of digital resources are available in quality, digital libraries. It's the responsibility of the librarian to identify, select, organize, manage and provide access to these materials. Library users are just beginning to discover the value of digital library content.

Skim the American Libraries' econtent supplement on Digital Futures. These short articles explore what's happening in today's libraries.

Skim Comforto, Nicole (July 27, 2015). The Teacher's Guide to Open Educational Resources. Edudemic. Available online. This website provides an overview of online learning resources that could be incorporated into digital library collections.

librivoxDigital Collection Spotlight

LIBRIVOX is a website containing public domain books for free in an audio format.

Contents: Librivox volunteers donate their time to record the books. The connection contains books from around the word. Users can browse the catalog by author, title, genre, subject, or language. A blog features news items and recent additions to the collection. Users can download the audiobooks on their computer or mobile device.

Connections: Users seeking audiobooks will find this free collection to be useful for leisure reading or across the academic curriculum. While it’s best known for its many classic works of literature, it also contains children’s books and nonfiction works. The collection is particularly useful for special needs students and those that learn best through listening.

Featured Digital Objects
Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin https://goo.gl/ssAqRI
Aesop for Children https://goo.gl/jVnZFZ
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame https://goo.gl/NJaVji
In addition to the website, the content is also available through both Apple and Google Play.
To visit the website, go to https://librivox.org/.

Content Curation

ipad computerFrom selecting from among database vendors to creating web pathfinders on specialized topics, digital librarians must be content curators.

Content curation in the digital library environment involves identifying, selecting, organizing, managing, and providing access to high-quality information sources.

While often associated with organizing websites using social media tools like Delicious, Diigo, FlipBoard, LiveBinders, Paper.li, Pinterest, ScoopIt, and Storify, this term also applies to making other types of digital resources more managable for end users.

Librarians might make ebook recommendations, pre-select a set of digital objects from a large digital collection, or provide access to a streaming video service that addresses a particular library audience need.

Read at least ONE of the following articles on content curation in libraries.

Valenza, Joyce Kasman (September-October 2012). Curation. School Library Monthly, 29(1).

Robertson, Nikki D. (2012). Content curation and the school library. Knowledge Quest.

Bing, Vera (2014). Let’s tear down the wall between physical and digital: ZLM topic room. OFLA Public Libraries Satellite Conference: Paper.

Common State Sponsored Subscription Services

tapMuch of the content for digital libraries comes from subscription services. While some of these services are paid for through individual libraries, others are licenses acquired through state agencies or consortium purchases.

It's likely that you learned about many of these services in other courses, so we won't spend much time on subscription content services. However, it's a good idea to review some of the most popular information sources.

The list below contains some of the most common services available through the various state agencies. Although they are primarily used by school and public libraries, they also provide the foundation for many academic library collections.

If you go to the IUPUI databases, you'll notice that many are sponsored by the INSPIRE state-wide network.

try itTry It!
Spend some time exploring individual libraries as well as state digital library services. Use the links to the digital libraries from last week's readings. Come up with your own list of the most popular digital subscriptions.

Let's explore some categories of digital content often found in digital library collections.

Audio Collections

Audiobook listening is up. In 2014, 14% of adults listened to an audio book (Zickhur & Raine, January 16, 2014). From podcasts to streaming music services, your digital library is likely to include audio collections.


Many libraries provide access to subscription-based services in addition to providing links to popular free, online audio collections.


Some libraries provide access to music services. Most subscription services limit the number of downloads that users can make in a particular time frame.

Read Williams, Karen (2012). Mediestream: The Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs of Making a Digital Collection Available Online. Microform & Digitization Review, 41(3/4), 171-174.

Other courses provide an indepth examination of audio sources. For more information, go to Technology Resources from the Advanced Information Sources courses.

Databases and Journal Collections

Particularly for scholarly activities, periodicals, databases, and indexes are essential information resources. However from business people to retirees, many people enjoy reading magazines and newspapers for pleasure too.

Many reference resources are available by subscription or free online. Credo Reference, Gale Virtual Reference Library, and Oxford Reference Online are three examples of subscription-based digital references. The International Encyclopedia of the First World War is a useful free resource for those interested in WWI. There are many excellent reference websites that can be built into pathfinders for specific topics of interest.

Multi-subject databases contain a wide range of materials including journal articles, monographs, primary sources, and reference works. Aggregators provide access to multiple databases using a single interface. These content aggregators such as EBSCO, Gale, LexisNexis, and ProQuest organize listings from various sources and in many cases provide full-text access to well-known databases.

Magazines have always been popular in libraries. Today, many libraries are using specialized magazine services to bring popular periodicals to readers. Two examples are listed below.

Read Tarver, Hannah, Waugh, Laura, Alemneh, Gelaw, Daniel, & Phillips, Mark (2015). Managing serials in a large digital library: case study of the UNT libraries digital collections. The Serials Librarian, 68(1-4), 353-360.

Other courses provide an indepth examination of databases. For more information, go to Reference Sources and Periodicals and Databases from the Advanced Information Sources courses.

Electronic Book Collections

When some people think of libraries, books immediately come to mind. Digital libraries are also filled with books, but in a digital form.

E-reading is on the rise. The percentage of American adults who read an e-book has risen from 17% in 2011 to 28% in 2014. Younger adults are more likely to read e-books than older adults. Almost half (47%) of those under 30 read an e-book in 2013. Half of American adults own either a tablet or an e-reader and 75% own a laptop or desktop computer (Zickhur & Raine, January 16, 2014).

Regardless of which report you read, e-books are becoming a significant digital library resource.

Demand-Driven Ebook Acquisitions

One approach to the purchase of e-books is demand-driven acquisitions.

According to Theresa Arndt (2015, 1),

"demand-driven acquisitions (DDA) is a system for facilitating discovery of a title that the library does not currently own and, upon request, quickly buying it for the library collection and providing access to the user... There are many potential advantages of e-book DDA. Users can be provided with access to a much wider array of materials than the library could afford to purchase on a speculative basis, and their choices are not limited to books for which a librarian was able to predict interest. Because the e-book specifically chosen by the user can be delivered instantly, without waiting for an ordering process or interlibrary loan delivery, there is increased library responsiveness to actual user needs".

The future of DDA is hotly debated.

“E-Book Data Driven Acquisition (DDA) and Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA) pilots have now reached a level of maturity and have become an integral part of collection development and acquisition workflow within many academic libraries and consortia… Although DDA models have had significant impacts on library collection budgets, there are indeed questions as to the sustainability of these models, particularly in light of recent increases in short-term loan price increases from various publishers (some of which have reached an increase of over 100%)” (ACRL, 2015, 5).

Read at least ONE of the following articles to read about DDA.

Arndt, Theresa (2015). What is demand-driven acquisition, and why do it? In, Getting Started with Demand-Driven Acquisitions for e-books. ALA Editions.

Downey, Kay, Zhang, Yin, Urbano, Cristóbal, & Klingler, Tom (January 1, 2014). KSUL: An evaluation of patron-driven acquisitions for ebooks. Computers in Libraries, 34(1), 10-14.

The Ebook Market

When ebooks first emerged on the market, libraries had a difficult time acquiring licenses. Although the process is now much easier, many issues make the process of ebook selection and management difficult. One of the most concerning issues relates to long-term access to ebooks. In many cases, libraries purchase subscriptions rather than ebooks themselves. In other words, the library doesn't own the ebooks. When the subscription runs out, the books are no longer available.

“The e-book market remains in flux, with most publishers offering options directly and through aggregators, providing both subject packages and individual firm ordering through book vendors. Of particular note is the significant success of university press partnerships with well-esteemed academic portals such as Project MUSE and JSTOR. Digital rights management (DRM) continues to be a challenge for managing and using ebooks (in particular for reserves and interlibrary lending/borrowing), with restrictions on printing, downloading, and re-use of content. Some of these DRM issues—as noted further below—have been eliminated through the direct delivery of content by individual publishers, or through third parties who have negotiated extensively with these publishers. Some print-on-demand services do exist from publishers such as Springer, which allows for printing entire e-books rather than just individual chapters" (ACRL, 2015, 3).

Many organizations are working on ways to bring ebooks into the hands of library users. Many of these projects involve collaborations among many partners including publishers, nonprofits, and libraries.

Read DPLA & Ebooks for the latest information on ebook working groups and initiatives.

Read E-books and Digital Content. This page is part of the Libraries Transform initiative of the American Library Association.

readSchool and Public Library Track Students Read!
Read Collette, Matt (September 2, 2015). Getting to E: The State of the School Ebook Market. School Library Journal.

Read Sockel, Adam (November 24, 2015). How to manage “zombie holds” in your digital collection. OverDrive Blogs.

Read SLJ's School Ebook Market Directory to get an idea of the ebook options for school libraries. Many of these also apply to other library settings.

readAcademic & Special Library Track Students Read!
Read Walters, William H. (April 2013). E-books in academic libraries: challenges for acquisition and collection management. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 13(2), 187-211.

Read Cataldo, Tara Tobin & Leonard, Michelle (Spring 2015). E-STEM: Comparing aggregator and publisher e-book platforms. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship. Available online.

Electronic Book Services

Many ebook services exist. Your choice will be determined by many factors including audience, library type, and existing subscriptions. It's important to understand what you're buying when you purchase an ebook license. How many people can access the ebook simultaneously? Will it be available forever or only for the length of the subscription?

In many cases, ebook offering are bundled with other databases from companies like ABC-CLIO, EBSCO, Gale, ProQuest Central, and Wiley-Blackwell Online Books.

A few popular ebook services are listed below.

Apps are increasing in popular. For instance, The Library Simplified is an ebook app designed to be used in conjunction with libraries. It's designed for libraries "seeking to improve eBooks from libraries. Built with maximum use of open source software, open specifications and standards based technologies."

try itTry It!
Explore at least three of the ebook services above. Compare their approaches, contents, and licensing practices.

Many libraries provide a number of different services to meet the diverse needs of library users.

try itTry It!
Go to the Montgomery County Public Libraries: Ebooks page. Notice their ebook options. Compare their offerings to another library.

Public Domain and Open Access Books and Journals

A growing number of ebooks are available for free. Check out a few examples.

Other courses provide an indepth examination of ebooks. For more information, go to Books and Ebook from the Advanced Information Sources courses.

making americaDigital Collection Spotlight


Cornell University Library

Contents: This collection contains primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. It includes monographs and over 100,000 journal articles. Users can search or browse the collection. The collection includes dozens of 19th century journals such as Scientific American and Atlantic Monthly to explore.
Connections: Use the many journals as a source for informational reading material. Ask students to select an article to read. Then, challenge them to investigate how the article reflects the time when it was written.
Featured Digital Objects:
Civil War - https://goo.gl/wCgSU9
Scientific American - https://goo.gl/mMzhOs
To visit the collection, http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/m/moa/.

Image Collections

From historical maps and photographs to contemporary works of art, some library users are seeking image collections. Digital libraries are likely to feature both general and subject-specific image collections to meet the needs of library users.

Some digital libraries provide consolidated access to resources from multiple collections to build a focused collection. An example is the King County Snapshots. It incorporating images from a dozen different digital collections.

Other courses provide an indepth examination of audio sources. For more information, go to Technology Resources from the Advanced Information Sources courses.

Grey Literature Collections

Many important research findings are published first and only as technical notes, conference proceedings, electronic communications, projects reports, and other lesser-known works. Traditional finding aids may not be effective in locating and accessing these materials. These types of documents are known as "grey literature" or "gray literature". Grey literature includes materials not formally published through traditional commercial publishing channels. Many of these works are found on websites. 

Depending on the library's audience, librarians need ways to provide access to the wealth of grey literature now available. Look for grey literature in the following locations:

Government Documents

Many government documents fall under the category of grey literature. In the past, libraries contained vertical files filled with brochures from government agencies on topics from tourism to food safety and shelves filled with government-printed books such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Increasingly, these types of materials can be accessed online or downloaded as e-books or apps for easy access.

Explore starting points for digital government documents:

Other courses provide an indepth examination of audio sources. For more information, go to Grey Literature and Government Documents from the Advanced Information Sources courses.

Video Collections

“An increasing number of libraries have been subscribing to streaming video and audio services (e.g., Kanopy, Alexander Street Press, Naxos) to meet faculty and student demand for said resources. Some libraries have also adopted demand-driven acquisitions to streaming services in which number of uses (i.e., views/listens) can trigger the purchase of a streaming license for a particular work. Kanopy has been the notable model for such a service. Streaming services have definite consequences for technical services (e.g., licensing of public performance rights), systems workflows (e.g., ensuring compatibility with EZ Proxy servers), and access and discovery (e.g., availability of MARC records). DRM restrictions on re-use for teaching and research (e.g., clip-making, Reserves use), ownership of perpetual streaming rights by libraries, and increased need for bandwidth are all issues at the forefront of this streaming audio and video surge” (ACRL, 2015, 4).

Many libraries provide access to streaming services depending on the needs of their audience.

Other courses provide an indepth examination of audio sources. For more information, go to Technology Resources from the Advanced Information Sources courses.


Licensing digital content can be a time consuming process. Use tools to help negotiate this process.

Read Washington's Statewide Database Licensing. Notice the process they went through to select and acquire databases.

LIBLICENSE: Licensing Digital Content is a website that contains standardized agreement language you can use.

"The LIBLICENSE Model License Agreement provides both a template that can be used by university librarians in negotiating particular licensing agreements and, more generally, serves as a statement by the academic library community of what it considers acceptable policy and practice for licensing digital information."

Below are some other useful resources:

Need More Digital Content Ideas?

For many more digital resources, check the following technology pages from the Advanced Information Sources courses:

canadianaDigital Collection Spotlight

is a digital project was developed by a nonprofit to make Canada’s cultural heritage accessible online.

: Users can select from collections including early Canada, Heritage, Public Collections, and Student Voice. Within each section, users can browse or search for items of interest.

Connections: Use this collection to make comparisons across time periods and areas of the world. Focus on specific topics such as comparing the First Nations Peoples of Canada with the Native Americans of the United States using primary source documents as evidence.
Featured Digital Objects:
Early Canadiana Collections - http://eco.canadiana.ca/
Heritage - http://heritage.canadiana.ca/
Public Collections - http://pub.canadiana.ca/
To visit the collection, http://www.canadiana.ca/


4C Project (2015). Investing in Curation: A Shared Path to Sustainability. Available online.

Abbey, Heidi N. (2013). Preserving Digital Content. In, J. Monson, LITA Guide: Jump-Start Your Career as a Digital Librarian, 127-144. American Library Association. Available as an ebook through IUPUI.

Abrams, Stephen (2015). A Foundation Framework for Digital Curation: The Sept Domain Model. Presented at iPRES 2015, The 12th International Conference on Preservation of Digital Objects, Chapel Hill, November 2-6, 2015.

ACRL (March 2015). Environmental Scan 2015. Available online.

ALA (April 2015). The State of America’s Libraries: A Report from the American Library Association 2015. American Libraries. Special Issue.

Babeu, Alison (August 2011). ‘Rome Wasn’t Digitized in a Day’: Building a Cyberinfrastructure for Digital Classics. Council on Library and Information Resources. Available online.

Cataldo, Tara Tobin & Leonard, Michelle (Spring 2015). E-STEM: Comparing aggregator and publisher e-book platforms. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship. Available online.

CCSDS (2012). Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS).

Combs, Michele, Matienzo, Mark A., Proffitt, Merrilee, & Spiro, Lisa (2015). Over, under, around, and through: getting around barriers to EAD implementation. In OCLC Research, Making Archival and Special Collections More Accessible, 39-62. Available online.

Conway, Martha O’Hara & Proffitt, Merrilee (2015). Taking stock and making hay: archival collections assessment. In OCLC Research, Making Archival and Special Collections More Accessible, 17-38. Available online.

DeCesare, Julie A. (2014). Streaming Video Resources for Teaching, Learning, and Research. ALA TechSource.

Dempsey, Lorcan (2015). A new information management landscape: from outside-in to inside-out. In N. Allen (ed.), New Roles for the Road Ahead: Essays Commissioned for ARCL’s 75th Anniversary. ACRL.

Digital Library of Georgia (2004). Digital Library of Georgia Digitization Guide.

Digital Preservation Coalition (2008). Preservation Management of Digital Materials: The Handbook. Available: http://www.dpconline.org/advice/preservationhandbook

Downey, Kay, Zhang, Yin, Urbano, Cristóbal, & Klingler, Tom (January 1, 2014). KSUL: An evaluation of patron-driven acquisitions for ebooks. Computers in Libraries, 34(1), 10-14.

Fox, Edward A., Yang, Seungwon, Ewers, John, Wildemuth, Barbara, Pomerantz, Jeffrey P., Oh, Sanghee (2011). 1-a (10-c): Digital Library Curriculum Development Module. Collaborative Research: Curriculum Development: Digital Libraries. Available: http://curric.dlib.vt.edu/modDev/modules/DL_1-a_2011-05-11.pdf

Havenwood, Clare, Matthews, Graham, Muir, Adrienne (2012). Selection of digital material for preservation in libraries. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 45(4), 294-308.

Hooper, Lisa & Force, Donald C. (2014). Keeping Time: An Introduction to Archival Best Practices for Music Librarians. MLA Basic Manual Series, Volume BM9. Available through IUPUI.

Huwe, Terence (May/June 2015). Data administration: an opportunities to collaborate. Computers in Libraries, 35(5), 15-17.

Huwe, Terence K. (November 1, 2014). The value of data-driven special collections. Computers in Libraries, 34(9), 23-25.

Joseph, Benn (2014) Protect Part 1.

Kaplan, Richard (ed.) (2012). Building and Managing E-Book Collections: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians. ALA Neal-Schuman.

Korn, Naomi & Oppenheim, Charles (2016). The Non-Nonsense Guide to Licensing Digital Resources. Facet Publishing, UK.

Marquis, Kathy & Waggener (July 29, 2015). What to collect? Building a local history reference collection at your library. American Libraries Magazine. Available online.

Marquis, Kathy & Waggener, Leslie (2015). Local History Reference Collections for Public Libraries. ALA Editions.

Miller, Brenda & Rhodes, Sarah (2012). From the Digital Dark Ages to a Digital Renaissance: The Art of Selecting Digital Content to Preserve. Library of Congress Presentation. Available online.

Noonan, Daniel W. (July 28, 2014). Digital preservation policy framework: a case study. EDUCAUSE Review.

Osterhout, Laura & Rhodes, Erin (2012). From the Digital Dark Ages to a Digital Renaissance: The Role of Long Term Storage in Digital Curation. An ALCTS Webinar. Library of Congress. Available online.

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Schonfeld, Roger C. (2013). Stop the Presses: Is the Monograph Headed Toward an E-Only Future? Ithaka S+R. Available online.

Schull, Diantha Dow (2015). Archives Alive: Expanding Engagement with Public Library Archives and Special Collections. ALA Editions.

Strohm, Adam (2014). Protect, Part 2.

Tarver, Hannah, Waugh, Laura, Alemneh, Gelaw, Daniel, & Phillips, Mark (2015). Managing serials in a large digital library: case study of the UNT libraries digital collections. The Serials Librarian, 68(1-4), 353-360.

Tobar, Cynthia (July/August 2011). Music to my ears: the New York Philharmonic Digital Archive. D-Lib Magazine, 17(7/8). Available online.

Watson, Andrea (1998). CSS Alabama digital collection: a special collections digitization project. The American Archivist, 61, 124-134.

Webb, Colin, Pearson, David, Koerbin, Paul (January/February 2013). ’Oh, you want us to preserve that?!’ statements of preservation intent for the National Library of Australia’s digital collections. D-Lib Magazine, 19(1/2). Available online.

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