Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why We Need for Digital Libraries?

Information-communication technologies (ICT) give society new opportunities for social and economic development as well as cultural and personal development, especially for developing countries like Kyrgyzstan. New technologies provide access to information and knowledge, and can act as an effective tool for the empowerment of various social groups of society.  Digital libraries can be created for different purposes and cover different information needs of the society. So, there are different goals and subjects for creation of digital library: (1) educational and academic content, (2) practical and professional content, and (3), cultural and historic heritage materials.

Digital libraries are one of the best solutions to provide access for educational resources and knowledge for young generation as well as for all society members. For example, creation of educational digital library can provide access to the books for schoolboys and girls in remote areas through mobile internet, and it can partially solve the problem of lack or limited number of books. Students from the different regions can get access and use academic digital libraries to get their bachelor’s or master degrees. Or, farmers can get access to new knowledge and use innovative agriculture solutions.

Development of human resources should be the main priority for every country.  Therefore, it is important to adopt the specific actions to design ICT policy and implement digital literacy increasing activity and provide access to knowledge. If we go back to the history, the US Government started to support this kind of digitalization initiatives in early 1990s, and gain much and valuable experience in this field.

According to Lebert (2005) first initiatives on digital libraries called Project Gutenberg started in 1971 when student of Illinois University wished to digitize US Declaration of Independence. But, importance of digital libraries came in mid 1990s, when US Government announced and distributed more than 20 mln funds among universities for research on digital libraries. So, first digitalization projects were based on six universities, as Carnegie Mellon, UC Berkeley, Michigan, Illinois, UC Santa Barbara and Stanford (Besser, 2003).

In his book “Creating the Digital Library”, Oleck (2012) describes modern initiatives on mass digitization and role of universities on creating of digital libraries. He focused on the following digital libraries initiatives: Hathi Trust Digital Library – shared by partnership of more 60 research institutions and libraries; California Digital Library – created by libraries in the University of California system, and Orbis Cascade Alliaince – with member universities in the Pacific Northwest. These digital library consortiums cooperate with Google Books and Internet Archive, who are the main players in digitalization of books, so they can select what to digitize and to avoid “reinvent the wheel”. Some university based digital libraries focused on newspaper digitization, others working to preserve cultural heritage, historic photographs, videos  and museum collections.

There are big advantages of digital libraries what kind of opportunities it can provide for community members. Mass digitization is conducting by the academic research institutions and their libraries, as well as business companies as Google Ink (Google Books) and Internet Archive (Open Library). Digital libraries promote preservation of cultural and intellectual heritage and provide access to the knowledge for scholars, students and all other stakeholders. Public libraries play a role of community members and digital libraries, helping them search and find necessary information resources. Main challenges for mass digitalization is issues of intellectual property and copyright. There are many cases of copyright violations. My further research papers will focus on copyright issues and its impact for development of digital libraries.   

1 comment:

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