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Thanks to all who have responded to my question on digital libraries.  I =
value this listserv. =20

 I am a SLIS student and I have a question for media specialists.  Would =
 you please respond to me personally at ?  My =3D
 question is:  What is your opinion of digital libraries?  trend? =
futuristic?  I =3D
 understand this is a broad question but would appreciate any comments.

How are you defining digital libraries?  All works accessible online?=20
Futuristic?  Yes.  Practical?  Not at this time.  I believe that there
will be those who will embrace the digital library but there will be a
place for print in traditional for many moons to come.

Part of the role libraries have played is the selection process by
knowledgeable librarians and the instructional role of some.  The
digital library cannot as easily fulfill those two roles.


Linda Kelso Hicks
Portage High School East
6450 US Highway 6
Portage, IN 46368
I love our new state digital library though some of its funding was just =
cut.  The power of an entire state library system to provide these =
resources to all it's citizens is marvelous.  It has the potential to be =
a real asset to small town and school libraries that would be hard =
pressed to provide even one or two of these databases to patrons on =
their own.  My only concern is that their availability will be seen as =
an excuse to cut library budgets rather than an opportunity to stretch =
them and provide more materials and services on the local level.


Yes it seems a well established one.


No, it is very much here and now in New England.  The current =
Connecticut State Librarian who got our digital library established last =
year, had previously established one in rural Vermont.

Dorothy E. Tissair, M.L.S.
Library Media Specialist
Old Saybrook, CT  06475
Just to give you an idea about my perspective, I am in my first year as =
a school librarian at a private independent school in Los Angeles.  =
Previous to this year, I had been an elementary classroom teacher in =
Hawaii for 12 years. =20

A few things came to my mind when I read your question:

1)  What do you mean when you say "digital libraries?"  In my =
experience, the term means many things to many people.  To an extreme, =
some take digital library to mean that they can tear down the brick and =
mortar building that currently stores all of the carbon-based books and =
periodicals.  Most people I have met, however, think of a "digital =
library" to be a service that is added to the current services provided =
by their traditional libraries.

2)  Trend?  I don't think that the vast majority of people that I've =
come into contact with would be advocates of tearing down the =
traditional library (yet), but they do want to see a growing array of =
digital resources made available to them in addition to what we have =
traditionally offered.

3)  I think school libraries (and indeed all libraries) need to be =
thoughtful in the way(s) they move toward a digital environment. I find =
understanding the digital marketplace to be very difficult at this time. =
 For example: If we drop many of our periodical subscriptions and depend =
largely on databases like EBSCO or Proquest, what happens if they go out =
of business?  Will we lose access to years of publications?  What =
happens if the market changes and we get priced out of the market and =
cannot afford the cost of annual subscriptions to the databases?

4)  E-Books?  Seems to me that digital reader technology will have to =
progress significantly and become more economical for the e-book concept =
to get to school libraries.  I think that it would be great for example, =
if students could hold all of their text books in a single digital =
reader (no more 40lb backpacks!), but I still have some trouble =
envisioning myself reading a novel on a digital reader.  I think =
librarians need to wait and see for now, but would be well served to =
watch the e-book concept carefully. =20
        Additonally, we will have to watch the copyright laws to see how =
they might impact e-book use.  We traditionally have had rights of first =
purchase.  When we bought a book we owned it and could therefore loan =
out our paper books for as long as we wanted.  In most e-book pricing =
models that I've seen (i haven't been following this too closely, =
though) libraries have to pay either annual licensing fees or =
pay-per-use fees ... that could get unreasonable for school libraries on =
limited budgets.

5)  Student access?  I think that an issue that I see rarely raised with =
respect to digital libraries, but which I think is quite important is =
"searcher behavior."  When I read journals, I tend to see a lot of =
research on "searching behavior."  What about "browsing behavior?"  The =
middle school kids that I work with are extremely bright, but they =
aren't good searchers.  This is true simply because, based on their age, =
they are young and inexperienced searchers.  They often lack the =
vocabulary to search efficiently (e.g. they may search for teenager =
instead of adolescent).  I'm finding that much research that happens in =
the elementary and middle school setting comes through "serendipitous =
discovery" ... students find one good book and then look at the books =
near it on the shelf to find what they need.  The ability to do this =
kind of "browsing research" is lost in the digital environments that =
I've seen.  I think that we'll need to see a lot of technological =
improvement in online retrieval systems before libraries can go all =
digital (I love technology, but I would be surprised if it happened in =
my lifetime ... but never say never ... )  Being able to browse =
effectively will be a big key to digital systems being embraced.

6)  Finally ... I like technology and would NEVER want to go back to a =
card catalog, but I'm also old fashioned enough to have an irrational =
love of books ... holding them, looking at the smudge marks on the =
pages, seeing which pages have been turned down to mark spots, the smell =
(which are probably mold spores that are giving me allergies ... )

Sorry that this is so long winded and "stream of consciousness" in =
nature, but I hope it helps.  Good luck on your research.



Dave Wee, Librarian
Harvard-Westlake Middle School
700 North Faring Road
Los Angeles, CA 90077
(310) 288-3270

Dana Hochstedler


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