The Digital Library: A Multi-Faceted Information and Communication System

The Digital Library: A Multi-Faceted Information and Communication System

Wolfgang Ratzek (Stuttgart Media University, Stuttgart, Germany)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/ijdls.2012100104
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For centuries, physical media determined the daily routine of a library. The Internet evolves as a medium for information and communication for specific and general use. Libraries, nowadays, pass through a radical change. They are changing from a more media holding institution towards a multimedia access and content provider in a physical and a digital environment. This paper deals with the various aspects, looked at from the information science point of view, i.e. IT, people and knowledge.
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What Is A Digital Library?

Much has been written about digital libraries. At first it seems unproblematic: In a narrower sense, an eLibrary which offers access to a repository. Closer inspections show the entire spectrum of digital libraries. Digital libraries may be subdivided into:

  • The hybrid library which offers print media as well as digital media, represented by a conventional library;

  • The pure digital library like “Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek” (see below);

  • The virtual or the internet based library like the german “Virtuelle Fachbibliotheken” (see below);

  • The fully automated library like the Sengkang Community Library in Singapore (see below);

  • The book kiosk like the Swedish bokomaten (see below);

  • The cybrary (see below).

The Pure Digital Library

A pure digital library exists only on the Internet; it is therefore a virtual library. The user conducts her/his online-research via an IT based user-interface. The user, in principle, does not know where the original data source is located. A current example is the “Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek – Kultur und Wissen online” (DDB: German Digital Library). The Beta version is available since 2012 and represents a network of 30,000 German cultural and scientific facilities. The portal offers access to approximately 5.6 million documents. The DDB is to be integrated into the European digital library’s Internet portal Europeana which gives global users access to the cultural assets of the European Union’s member states. (

A particular case is that of South Korea: As a counterpart of The National Library of Korea serves since 2009 the National Digital Library of Korea, the “dibrary”.

The Book Kiosk

While the pure or virtual library has a fixed place on the internet (URL), represents the book kiosk a dislocated philosophy. An “entire” library of the size of an ATM or drink vending machine is placed there where the reader is located, e.g. at train stations, attached to the outside of a building, e.g. banks or post offices, gas stations, or department stores. Excellent examples are:

  • The Krimi-Automat (Thriller automat) of the Cologne City Library (Germany) which is located in a shopping center (Neumarkt-Passage). According to the coffee- or pizza-to-go follows “Thriller-to-go” with approximately 800 thrillers and a weekly title update. This 24/7 service can be used with a valid borrower´s ticket. The library patron may borrow and return the book at any time1;

  • The Swedish Bokomaten works in a similar way. The first of its kind in Sweden was operated by the Lindingö City Library. In the meantime, there are many more. Bokomaten stores 800 media of all kind and genre. (Woodward, 2012, p. 39)

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