Thursday, April 06, 2006

National Library Week

This week is National Library Week in the U.S. Appropriately, my graduate students this week have been talking a bit about what a digital library. Some of them have taken a class in "digital libraries" and are trying to reconcile that with what they now know about digitization. The questions they are asking have to do with what a digital library is and how do digital collections relate to a digital library. There is, however, no single definition of what a digital library is and how the students define "digital library" will change as their knowledge/work changes.

How does a digitized collection relate to a digital library? Some digitized collections are referred to as "digital libraries." If you define a digital library as "collection of texts, images, etc., encoded so as to be stored, retrieved, and read by compute," then -- yes -- a digitized collection can be a digital library. Hopefully a digital library is much more than just a digitized collection. Hopefully it contains other content and tools -- e.g., online databases, the library's catalogue, search engines, federated search options, finding aids, and virtual reference. Hopefully a digital library makes the user feel as if he/she has truly been to the library.

There are a couple days left in National Library Week...but as we know, brick-n-mortar libraries and digital libraries are important every day of the year. I hope you will celebrate your libraries -- the library perhaps that you work in and those that you use to find information.

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