Tuesday, September 08, 2009

John Unsworth's definition of a digital library

In 2000, John Unsworth then the Director, Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia, provided this definition of a digital library in his paper "The Scholar in the Digital Library":
A "digital library," in this discussion, means something more than the Web at large: it means an intentional collection of digital resources assembled, catalogued, indexed, preserved, and presented to serve the needs of scholarship. The digital library can exist outside the university--and increasingly, we will see them come into being in the form of the archives of corporations (Corning, for example, has mountains of historical data about its own operations, its own research, its own innovations)--but even in those cases, the purpose is more or less the same (Corning wants their engineers to be able to bring past experience to bear on current research agendas). To be called a "digital library" in the sense that I mean it here, the institution in question would have to present full-text (and full-image) resources, not just finding aids that point to boxes on a shelf--not that these aren't very important: they're simply not what I'm talking about here.
I am still collecting definitions of what a digital library is. If you have one that I should see, please let me know. Thanks!

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1 comment:

Lisa Guidarini said...

I'm an MLS student in my last semester, doing my practicum at Northern Illinois University, in the Rare Books and Archives dept. I'm working with the archives, which has led me to a huge interest in digitizing in the age of the internet. Finding this post was great serendipity! Very glad you posted this, and I'll have to cruise 'round your blog to see what other goodies I can find...