INLS 740: Digital Libraries

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Course description

This course will address research and development issues in digital libraries, including: collection development and digitization; mass digitization; text and multimedia materials; metadata; interoperability; architecture; searching and services; economic, legal, and social policies such as copyright; and management and evaluation. Students will read and discuss literature on DLs, evaluate a DL of their choice, and work as a group to develop a prototype DL.

Course objectives

By the end of the course, students will:

  1. Understand the technologies involved in the construction of digital libraries,
  2. Be able to make collection development decisions for building a digital library,
  3. Be able to make decisions regarding the implementation of services and automation for a digital library,
  4. Be able to evaluate a digital library with regard to its content and user base,
  5. Be able to be involved in the construction and maintenance of a digital library.


Jeffrey Pomerantz, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

School of Information and Library Science

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

CB 3360, 100 Manning Hall

Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3360

v: 919-962-8064

f: 919-962-8071

pomerantz at unc dot edu



A note about office hours: I live in Seattle, WA & will therefore not be holding in person office hours in Chapel Hill. I will hold virtual office hours using Google Hangouts. And I am reachable by all of the fine media listed above. Contact me via any means you prefer. I'm happy to schedule a phonecall if you require a longer conversation.
Curriculum vitae

Course management

Sakai site: Only your grades will be in Sakai. All other course content and activity will be on the course WordPress site.

I will provide you with the login info for the DL platforms listed below in class.

Omeka site: We have a hosted instance at

Greenstone site: Aaron B has installed Greenstone on a test server in the SILS Lab.

[DSpace]: We have an instance installed on an Amazon EC2 virtual machine.

[CONTENTdm]: The Library Systems group has graciously provided us with a test login and collection space.

Remedial materials

Online materials

Textbook & reading

There is one required text for this course:

Witten, I. H., Bainbridge, D., & Nichols, D. M. (2010). How to Build a Digital Library, 2nd ed. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufman Publishers.

Available as an ebook though the UNC libraries.

Breaking news: This ebook is from Ebrary, and Ebrary recently added a download feature to their books. See these excellent instructions for downloading Ebrary ebooks, written by the fantastic Chad Haefele, Emerging Technologies Librarian and Computer Science Subject Specialist, Davis Library.

If you prefer to hold paper in your hands, this book is also available in the Student Stores and on reserve in the SILS library. Also available from Amazon or any online bookseller.

All readings will be assigned on the course Schedule. Readings not from HtBaDL will be available on the free web, as an e-journal, via the Library's e-reserves, or via this wiki. Readings are also listed in my course Pinboard feed.

Additional reading

Arms, W. Y. (2000). Digital Libraries. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. (Also available from netLibrary, from ebrary, and on the free web)

Bishop, A. P., Van House, N. A., & Buttenfield, B. P. (Eds.). (2003). Digital Library Use: Social Practice in Design and Evaluation. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Borgman, C. L. (2000). From Gutenberg to the Global Information Infrastructure. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. (Also available from netLibrary)

Lesk, M. (1997). Practical Digital Libraries: Books, Bytes, and Bucks. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufman Publishers.

Special issues of journals:

Library Trends, 49(2), Fall 2000. Assessing Digital Library Services, Edited by Thomas A. Peters.

Information Processing & Management, 41(1), January 2005. An Asian Digital Libraries Perspective, Edited by E. A. Fox and E. Logan.

You should read D-Lib Magazine and the International Journal on Digital Libraries regularly.

Several conferences devoted to digital libraries exist:

I've also aggregated a bunch of DL-related RSS feeds.


Building a Digital Library


Digital Library Evaluation

Environmental Scanning


Grading rubric & other policies

See my course grading rubric.

See my course policies.

See the Online Class Statement.

Assignments constitute the following percentage of your final grade:

  • Building a Digital Library = 40%
  • Checkpoint: this combines your group's checkpoint post and your individual comments = 15%
  • Digital Library Evaluation = 20%
  • Environmental Scanning = 15%
  • Participation = 10%


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