Beyond Library Beginnings: Understanding Digital Libraries

Beyond Library Beginnings: Understanding Digital Libraries

Iguehi Joy Ikenwe, Obiora Kingsley Udem
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-4755-0.ch009
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This chapter x-rayed digital libraries as a tool beyond a library's beginning for information service delivery and function. It discussed the conceptual nature of digital libraries, benefits of digital libraries, digital library resources, components of digital libraries, digital literacy skill, digital library: the university focus, hardware and software for building a digital library, and challenges facing digital libraries. It recommended among others that for the effective implementation of digital library programmes to satisfy users' needs, government and library's parent bodies must endeavour to allocate a huge amount of finance for digital library infrastructural development in libraries of all types, which should be judiciously used by library management for the intended purposes.
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Libraries are fundamental to educational development in any society that offers a potential means by which humans can access a vast amount of knowledge. From indication, knowledge is an important asset and human resource, recognized as a powerful force for human survival and overall growth in the present day. In collaboration, Ikenwe and Ose-Abame (2021) stated that humans need knowledge for competitive advantage and survival in the knowledge economy, identified by more intensive knowledge activities and reliance on intellectual assets. However, this has given more increase in knowledge pursuit. Consequently, libraries are the storehouse of this human knowledge from which information users turn for information for societal survival. In time past, libraries have relied so much on the traditional means of disseminating information and service delivery to users where the focus was majorly on printed resources, traditional functions, services, and routines. The users' encountered the challenge of accessing these services and tasks in due time, resulting in less satisfaction with libraries. This led to a change in users' perception of the library as just a mere collection and keeper of old books on the shelf. However, Libraries in this 21st century have broadened and gone beyond the origin of the provision of mere traditional services and resources to satisfy users' information needs because it became evident and of concern for libraries to bring back the users and change their perceptions.

One influential force that has assisted libraries in achieving this in the last decades is adopting evolving technologies to improve their information service delivery significantly to users due to the numerous benefits derived from the use of these technologies, resulting in a tremendous change in traditional roles to digital. According to Ikenwe and Anaehobi (2021), today's world has experienced profound innovations, primarily in digital form. The world has become a global village due to the strong impact of technologies like Information Communication Technologies (ICT). These ICTs have opened the gateway for libraries to move beyond their origin by keying into the new opportunities of the global world. Thus, integrating them into their routines, services, and resources. Ikenwe, Adeton, and Ose-Abame (2021) asserted that ICTs had ushered radical change in developed and developing countries, changing libraries' productivity and services to more sophisticated ones. Choi and Rasmussen (2006) opined that global fashion has shown that information delivery has moved from traditional to web-based and electronic forms. Notably, this birthed digital libraries and has rebranded the services and resources of libraries in the 21st century. The value of digital libraries in the 21st century cannot be overstated. It gives access to a vast amount of information as well as an almost infinite number of resources and possibilities. Organisciak and Schmidt (2021) concluded that the emergence of large multi-institutional digital libraries has opened the door to aggregate-level examinations of the published word. Thus, the fundamental reason for the development of digital libraries is to offer quick access to global information via rapid transformation because of the emergence of fast-growing digital technologies and artificial intelligent-based solutions. However, this chapter x-rays the following sub-topics: Conceptual nature of digital libraries, benefits of digital libraries, resources in a digital library, components of digital libraries, digital literacy skills, Digital Library: University Focus, hardware and software for building digital libraries, building digital library collections, and challenges of digitalization of library resources.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Resources: Digital resources are those information resources in an electronic format accessible through internet-connected computers or other electronic devices in libraries known as in-house digital resources.

Digital Library: A digital library is a library that houses digital content, carefully and systematically selected, acquired or subscribed or digitized, managed and stored in electronic formats accessible to users through internet-connected computers, laptops, or smartphones to satisfy an information need.

Digitization: The process of transforming non-digital-born documents into digital formats is known as digitization.

Digital Literacy Skills: Digital literacy skills can be defined as the ability of an individual in this digital age to use computers or other technologies to navigate digital platforms to access, locate, evaluate, create and disseminate digital content.

Hardware: Hardware is a general term for physical artifacts of a technology. It could also refer to the physical elements of a computer system, such as computer hardware.

Software: Software is a set of instructions or programs which is required for a computer to function. It is a set of instructions given to a computer by a manufacturer or user that tells it what to do and how to do it.

Institutional Repository: An institutional repository refers to a collection of formally organized and controlled digital content created by an institution's academics, staff, and students.

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