Digital Libraries in Africa: Evolution, Status, and Challenges

Digital Libraries in Africa: Evolution, Status, and Challenges

Stella E. Igun
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 5
DOI: 10.4018/jdls.2012040102
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This paper discusses evolution, status, and problems/challenges of digital libraries in Africa. Different definitions and concepts of digital library were given. Benchmarks/standards developed by recognized leaders in the movement towards digital libraries and plans that identify appropriate time frames to strategize have been noted. Characteristics and benefits of digital libraries were enumerated. Global digital library initiatives for Africa and digital library projects in Africa are still minimal. Prospects for digital libraries for Africa and their users were also highlighted. Problems/challenges of digital libraries in Africa were discussed. Recommendations for establishment of digital libraries in Africa and conclusion were made.
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Benchmarks For Digital Libraries, Evolution, And Status

The digital library Federation under the leadership of Carnegie Mellon (a recognized leader in the movement towards digital library) developed a plan that identifies appropriate time frames, strategises and attendant costs for migrating to predominantly digital library. The strategic planning cycle of the Digital Library, Federation (DLF) comprised about 25 libraries in the United States. These libraries stated that the “future of libraries is digital” (Raitt, 1999). The University administration in United State endorsed this concept and started providing additional funding for the purchase of digital resources while they also recognized the correct deficiencies in existing print collection following a developmental plan that was drawn up for achieving a digital future since 1998. Digital Library Federation states that libraries should be “predominantly digital” measured into standard in the following;

  • i.

    99% of interlibrary loan request submitted electronically

  • ii.

    95% of all use of library-provided indices is digital (75% is used remotely)

  • iii.

    65% of reference desk questions are answered with digital resources

  • iv.

    50% of journals have some digital components

  • v.

    31% of interlibrary loan photocopies arrive digitally

  • vi.

    10% of the materials budget is expended on digital resources

  • vii.

    5% of all resources are digital full text.

The university libraries made the commercial vendors to implement national standards that effectively assessed the use and impact of digital libraries on education, broad data about growth/use of the web as an academic resource. The goal of academic libraries generally is to meet the teaching, learning, scholarly research and other information needs of their faculties, students and affiliations and to do this effectively and efficiently. It was in order to meet this standard and goal that the digital library Federation provided the above benchmark/standards as guide for all libraries and especially for the academic libraries and other institutions. Similarly, Nikisch et al. (2005) stated that Poland, established consortia of regional libraries for the purpose of networking the traditional libraries into digital libraries and that the university libraries are to ensure network access to digitalized resources. The academic libraries of Poland have an initiative that developed network of regional digital libraries, as they reported. Developed countries have responded to major changes brought about by the ICT age in the library world. The libraries abroad can be said to have moved into reliance on digital technology systems. From this literature, it can be said also that digital database and vendor connections directly impact the academic libraries collections decisions especially.

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