Security and Privacy in Digital Libraries: Challenges, Opportunities and Prospects

Security and Privacy in Digital Libraries: Challenges, Opportunities and Prospects

Mohammed Nasser Al-Suqri (Department of Information Studies, College of Arts and Social Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, Al-Khoud, Sultanate of Oman) and Esther Akomolafe-Fatuyi (Morgan State University, Department of World Languages and International Studies, Baltimore, MD, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/ijdls.2012100103
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Technological advances have led to a proliferation of digital libraries over the past decade or so. These offer valuable opportunities for convenient access to information and data, regardless of an individual’s location. For librarians though, the transition from physical to digital library collections brings many new challenges, not least in the areas of security and privacy. The purpose of this article is to examine the nature of these challenges and the opportunities available for overcoming them, so that libraries can continue to fulfill their important role of providing accurate, secure and timely information to users, while protecting their privacy and the confidentiality of their personal information. The article addresses in particular the following issues: protecting the information infrastructure; identification and authentication in security and privacy; standards and policies; access and control of digital information; ethical decision-making in design, implementation and evaluation of digital libraries; and privacy, anonymity and identity. The article concludes with consideration of the future prospects for security and privacy in digital libraries.
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Emerging digital technology has paved the way for the creation of digital libraries, which have made it easier for users to access information through digital systems and networks. The digital library is generally designed to perform and serve the same primary functions and tasks as a traditional library. What makes it different, though, is that it consists of data stored in digital form on computerized devices instead of in physical books and journals. In today’s globalized world, data are transmitted across the planet through the Internet, providing easier access to information and education for many people. While this technology provides current opportunities for expanded learning across the globe, there is also a need to ensure that the digital information can be preserved and made available for future generations.

The primary functions performed by libraries include developing and producing information records in print and non-print formats, managing these information records, and distributing information for the use of current and future generations. The role of libraries in facilitating information access has been widely discussed by many researchers (Borgman, 2000; Sturges, 2001; Hamilton & Pors, 2003). The continual evolution of technology and the resulting changes in the interface between users and information changes the librarian’s professional environment and their role. Fifty years ago, a librarian would help patrons find a book through a card catalogue; today, digital librarians use a computer to assist more patrons to simultaneously locate books, audiovisual media and on-line resources.

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