Author

Literature Review

Lagozei, C., Kraffti, D. B., Payettei, S., & Jesurogaii, S. (2005). What Is a Digital Library Anyway? Beyond Search and Access in the NSDL. D-Lib Magazine, 11(11). Retrieved from http://www.dlib.org/dlib/november05/lagoze/11lagoze.html


This article notes that there remain many technical hurdles that have yet to be solved in the digital library sphere. Lagozei et.al., describe the different technical challenges and opportunities that face digital libraries, namely metadata and NSDL data repositories, information architecture using the metadata repositories, information modeling, and the information network overlay. As the authors note, a “digital library needs to be resource-centric, providing the framework for managing, manipulating, and processing content and metadata and the seamless line between them.” Ultimately, fashioning a digital library in the specific mold of a physical library creates barriers and sets limitations on a concept that really should be stretched and explored as much as possible. Digital libraries should look beyond simply access and find-ability, and really innovate how patrons can use the information we provide them: can they manipulate it? Share it across different platforms? Tackling these technical concerns would really highlight the value of a digital library, and reinforce the need to continue their development and implementation. There is a lack of innovation and restrained implementation of new technology in digital libraries because the funds aren't available for the research and work required, or because the impression of the digital library being “unnecessary” in the age of Google colors institutional policy towards digital projects. It seems that for many, “all” of the information is already available online, so digitizing or creating digital collections is somehow redundant or unnecessary. This indicates an alarming lack of distinction between knowledge types, authoritative versus non-authoritative, and this problem facilitates the lack of funding and prioritization that afflicts digital library programs across the nation.


Marcum, D., & Friedlander, A. (2003). Keepers of the Crumbling Culture: What Digital Preservation Can Learn from Library History. D-Lib Magazine, 9(5). Retrieved from http://www.dlib.org/dlib/may03/friedlander/05friedlander.html


In this article, Marcum and Friedlander address the “other” aspect of digital libraries, the preservation of the information we are making accessible, malleable, and shareable to the user. Preservation is of course an integral part of a librarian’s work, because the preservation of information is the foundation for accessibility. As the authors note,  a good deal of focus has historically been placed on the preservation of physical materials, but born-digital media, as it becomes the de-facto standard for how information documents are created and shared in the first place, is fast becoming the next frontier for digital libraries. Aside from smaller local efforts and one recent push by Library of Congress' digital preservation plan, there is no unified thinking behind how to handle all of the born-digital content, with many libraries creating hard paper copies of digital content and attempting preservation that way. This is yet another area where digital libraries, with proper funding and strategizing, could develop innovative solutions for digital preservation that flow and are part of a larger plan with digital access and digital creation, bypassing the paper medium altogether.


Darnton, R. (2010, October 4). A Library Without Walls. The New York Review of Books. Retrieved November 23, 2010, from http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2010/oct/04/library-without-walls/


Rothman, D. (2010, November 5). Why We Can't Afford Not to Create a Well-Stocked National Digital Library System. The Atlantic. Retrieved November 23, 2010, from http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/11/why-we-cant-afford-not-to-create-a-well-stocked-national-digital-library-system/66111/


More recently, a call to arms concerning the creation and collaboration of a national digital library has been raised by various individuals, most notably Robert Darnton’s “A Library Without Walls” in The New York Review of Books, and David Rothman’s piece “Why We Can't Afford Not to Create a Well-Stocked National Digital Library System” in The Atlantic, both published this past month. In examining why we lack the mandate for further development of digital libraries, it becomes apparent that our lack of a national digital library perpetuates a lack of need, when this is obviously inaccurate to a librarian. In addition to the technical concerns over the infrastructure and architecture of such a library, we also have to consider preservation on a large national scale. Add to that all the legal issues and political will, and one can see how the American national digital library barely stands a chance at being discussed, much less created. 


Toobin, J. (2007, February 5). Annals of Law : Google’s Moon Shot. The New Yorker. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/02/05/070205fa_fact_toobin


Because there is a distinct lack of a national initiative towards creating a national digital library, corporations, in particular Google, have stepped in. Jeffrey Toobin’s New Yorker article, “Google’s Moon Shot: The quest for the universal library,” discusses how Google approached the hornets’ nest of issues around its controversial Google Books project. Google Books was created with the corporate mandate to digitize and make freely available mass numbers of physical books for online viewing, treating books as ordinary searchable text, and adding advertising to books based on content. Along with Microsoft and other digital book initiatives, the corporatization of digital literature is an interesting development, and in many ways could be perceived as an infringement on the library sphere. But if libraries have not taken sufficient steps towards the cause of freely available digitally literature, why not Google? And indeed, many libraries have partnered up with Google Books to make portions of its library freely accessible. But what about the problems? If one ignores just the legal problems Google encountered, and then ignores the severe access restrictions on the content that now exist for many of the digitized books (so much for free), there remain issues of preservation, share-ability, and neutral authority involved with Google Books, and really any corporatized digitization project which makes a profit on information access. As a comparison, when a user attempts to use Google Books, they soon realize that the available books were digitized for the content and page views and ad dollars they generate, not for the long-term preservation of our literature heritage. Many scans are incorrectly processed, upside down, pages are often missing, and no one can be sure that the quality of these scans is of long-term preservation quality. Digital libraries exist to continue the work of neutral, authoritative information deliverance to a wider audience, and anyone who equates this with what Google does, which is profiting on advertising, is seriously misinformed.