Lindsay Roberts

Connecting people with information

More Digital Library Challenges: Preservation and Standardization

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In my first discussion post, I touched on some questions I have regarding the maintenance of digital libraries—specifically who is trained to maintain them or migrate them as technology evolves.

In this week’s readings, Suleman and Fox (2001) write, “Most DLs are intended to be quick solutions to urgent community needs—so not much thought goes into planning for future redeployment of the systems.” This is understandable given how exciting new technologies can be—every organization wants to have a flashy webpage and start putting content on the web. Yet as we are quickly discovering, electronic formats do not necessarily mean an item is preserved! You could even argue that in some cases it takes more man-hours to care for digital items that it does for low-tech books and periodicals, since electronic items need to be migrated and webpages can disappear after a few years.

A prime example of this: in reading the articles for our week 3 Info Package project, I wanted to check out some supplementary material the author, Ying Zhang refers to in her article “Developing a Holistic Model for Digital Library Evaluation.” The links to this supplementary material no longer work, however, though the article was only published in 2010.

The technologies behind building a digital library are fairly similar, but as we can see from Pyrounakis and Nikolaidou’s article, “Comparing Open Source Digital Library Software,” there are still some significant differences among DL software systems, especially at the conceptual level of how they allow an “object” or “item” to be constructed and defined. These differences seem to indicate that standardization has not yet been agreed upon in this still-young field.

One reason for this, as the “DELOS Manifesto” points out, is that the various disciplines contributing to or using DLs have varying perspectives on what they want from a DL, tinged by the perspectives in their particular discipline. This isn’t a bad thing—but it does make creating standardization across the field more challenging.

Finally, a little plug for our student ASIS&T group: this past week’s Tech Bytes talk was given by Beth Tillinghast of the University of Hawaii-Manoa, whose digital repository uses DSpace. You can view the recording of her talk here: https://connect.du.edu/p1eotaye4xb/ .

References:

Candela, L., Castelli, D., Pagano, P. & Thanos, C. (2007). Setting the Foundations of Digital Libraries. D-Lib Magazine 13(3/4).

Pyrounakis, G. & Nikolaidou, M. (2009) Comparing Open Source Digital Library Software. Handbook of Research on Digital Libraries: Design, Development and Impact. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.

Suleman, H. & Fox, E. A. (2001). A framework for building open digital libraries. D-Lib Magazine, 7(12).

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