INLS 740: Digital Library Review

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The function of this assignment is to have you critically evaluate mature digital libraries (more mature than the one we're working on for our course project, anyway), and identify aspects of those DLs that may be applicable to our course project.

Every student must identify one digital library for discussion. This DL should be chosen with an eye to informing our course project: in selecting a DL, choose one where some aspect of it (though not necessarily all of it) may inform the development of our course project.

Claim your DL on the course wiki. This is only to prevent duplication; I want everyone to bring a different DL to the table. (So there's an advantage to claiming your DL early. Not that there's any shortage of DLs out there.)

This assignment will proceed in two stages: individually then collectively. First, prior to class, individually prepare a brief set of discussion points (recommendation: one side of one page, bullet items) about your chosen DL. These discussion points should highlight what aspects of your DL may inform the development of our course project. In other words, why did you choose it? What do you want your working group to get out of looking at your DL? See below for a very non-exhaustive list of some suggested discussion points.

Second, working groups will discuss, in class, the DLs brought by all group members. What aspects of these DLs should inform our course DL? How can these features or services or whatever be implemented? Groups will prepare a brief set of recommendations by the end of the class session.

At the end of this class session, working groups will submit a brief report, including the following: the set of recommendations prepared by the group, and the discussion points prepared by each member of the group.


Possible Discussion Points

These questions are meant to guide your DL Review: some attributes on the template may not be applicable to some DLs, and some DLs may include other attributes not on the template.

Does the DL have a mission or vision statement? If so, can these inform the mission or vision of our course project?

Community:

  • What is the user community(-ies)?
  • Who are the stakeholders (sponsors, partners, funders, host institution(s), etc.)? Who actually operates the DL?
  • How is the DL funded? Is this sustainable?
  • How does the DL interoperate/cooperate with other DLs?

Content / Collection Development Policy:

  • What does the DL contain (type, media, volume)?
  • What will it contain in 5 years? Is there a formal collection development policy?
  • Who can add objects to the collection?
  • How is it organized (what are the basic units of the collection? Collections/aggregations? What metadata is used for each?) What metadata standards have been adopted?
  • If the DL is part of a physical library, how are digital and physical objects related? (e.g., are there digital pointers to physical objects or vice versa?)

Services:

  • What is the access policy (e.g., free web, subscription, membership, etc.)?
  • What search services are provided (e.g., single search engine for entire DL? Alternative modes [e.g., basic, advanced])?
  • How is selection/browsing managed?
  • Are reference services offered (e.g., FAQ, email queries, query form, chat, etc.)?
  • Is help or instruction available?

Technology:

  • What information architecture techniques are used? What interface features are used? What assumptions about user expertise are made?
  • Are there special security or quality-of-service provisions?
  • Are there specific research and development problems this DL addresses?

Have there been any publications about the DL? If so, do those provide any additional insight?


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