Thursday, June 18, 2009

Book: Understanding Digital Libraries, Second Edition

Michael Lesk, a professor at Rutgers University, has written a book that is widely used entitled Understanding Digital Libraries (Second Edition). Lesk has had a long career including stints at the National Science Foundation and Bell Labs. He is a computer scientist who has built retrieval systems. Lesk brings that perspective to the topic.

Understanding Digital Libraries is divided into two parts. The first part of the book addresses what (chapters 1 - 7) and the second half discusses how (chapters 8 - 14), or in other words, what digital libraries contain and how they operate. At 400+ pages including figures, tables, references and index, this is a book chocked full of information.

I'll be using this book during the fall when I teach Digital Libraries at Syracuse University (IST 676). I see this book as laying groundwork for an interesting conversation that will include the questions: "So what is a digital library?" and "So what?" Given what are named digital libraries on the Internet, I think the "what" will be a lively conversation. And then thinking about the benefits of these entities...what rewards are we reaping from these things?

By the way, Dr. Lesk spoke at Syracuse University this past April and the video is available online (1 hr. 40 min.) Lesk talks about book scanning and gives his opinion of some of the machines, etc., in use today. Likely worth watching more than once.

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