Examples of Digital Libraries

For IST 677, we had to each contribute 6 examples of digital libraries over the course of the semester to the class blog, available here.

I have mixed feelings about this assignment. On the one hand, I recognize the value in ensuring we’re exposed to a number of digital libraries 1)just to see what’s out there in terms of navigation, content, and host organizations, and 2)to get a feel for the presentation styles of digital libraries.

On the other hand, there’s only so many different basic ways to design a website, which is all a digital library is at its most basic. The first couple were interesting to look at critically, but by the last one, I honestly didn’t care. It’s attractive or it’s not. It’s intuitive to use or it’s not (and if it’s not easy to use that makes trying to address the required points rather difficult: more chore-like than enlightening).

This personal experience made me skeptical of reading over the posted examples from others. If some aspect of the site is especially interesting, I can visit it myself, rather than try to patch together the experience from description and screenshots. Actually, for that matter, all I really need is a link to the digital library, and then I can perform all the trial navigation and judgment myself (not that that’s really traceable for grading purposes, of course). For me, the most difficult aspect in this assignment was determining whether a site qualified as a full digital library or simply a collection.

Perhaps if there were some sort of focus to the subject matter I would have found it more interesting, e.g. each person analyzed different DLs revolving around a particular subject and then compared the differences in presentation for similar topics and materials. As it now, we have this big collection of collaborative analysis over a scattershot variety of subjects, but I don’t see how all that effort adds up to anything useful to anyone outside the class (or even to anyone in the class outside of the assignment context).

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