Washington, D.C.—Digital libraries, once project based and largely autonomous efforts, are maturing. As individual programs have grown, each has developed its own personality, reflecting the circumstances of its creation and environment, and its leadership. A new report from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and the Digital Library Federation (DLF) draws on the results of a survey and case studies of DLF members to reveal how these influences have molded a range of organizational forms that we call the digital library.
The report, entitled The Digital Library: A Biography, is written by Daniel Greenstein and Suzanne Thorin. Greenstein, formerly the director of the DLF, is now university librarian for systemwide library planning and scholarly information and director of the California Digital Library. Thorin is the dean of university libraries at Indiana University.
Section one of the report examines three stages of digital library growth: the young digital library, the maturing digital library, and the adult digital library. Young libraries are portrayed as experimental, opportunistic organizations that are set apart from traditional library services. The maturing digital library, having acquired core competencies, focuses on integrating digital materials into the library's collections and on developing and supportingwith core fundingthe requisite policies, technical capabilities, and professional skills to sustain its services. The adult digital library exists only in theory at present, but the authors predict that it will no longer be functionally or organizationally distinct from the library, and that financial resources to maintain it will come from numerous budget lines rather than one.
Section two of the report presents case studies of digital library development at six institutions. These case studies reveal other attributes that have helped shape the character of digital library programs. They include a program's orientation toward the production of digital content, organization and leadership, and relationship with surrounding academic departments and information services.
The Digital Library: A Biography is available on CLIR's Web site at www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub109/pub109.pdf. Print copies will soon be available for ordering through the Web site.
The Council on Library and Information Resources is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the management of information for research, teaching, and learning. CLIR works to expand access to information, however recorded and preserved, as a public good.