Developing Digital Collections

Developing Digital Collections

Diane M. Fulkerson (University of South Florida Polytechnic Library, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0234-2.ch005

Abstract

Digital collections are found in most libraries. They include not only databases but also photographs, institutional repositories, manuscript collections, materials from the university archives, or special collections. Designing digital collections and making them available to users expands the resources users can access for a research project.
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Background

Digital collections provide access to resources beyond the usual books, periodicals and databases. They often provide students, faculty and researchers with access to primary source materials. The Digital Library of Georgia is an excellent example of a digital collection with a wide variety of materials. In 2008, the collection expanded to include a Civil Rights Digital Library with original television video of events from the Civil Rights Movement. Digital collections provide libraries with the opportunity to display their special collections or archives. Digitization does cost money and in today’s economy, libraries often seek grant money to support major digitization projects. Digital collections will have specific digitization requirements for materials and the types of materials they will digitize.

Another example of a digital collection is arXiv.org from Cornell University. This institutional repository provides scholarly papers in the sciences especially physics, mathematics, and computer science. An institutional repository is different from a digital collection in the fact it is a collection of scholarly articles or papers written by faculty members at that particular institution. arXiv.org accepts papers from scholars at institutions outside of Cornell University. Cornell and supporting user institutions and the National Science Foundation fund the project. As with any online collection, the ability to search and find the materials you need is crucial to a digital collection.

Metadata for a digital collection allows users to search and find the materials they are looking for. Google is an excellent example of how to use metadata to improve search results. The metadata provides users with better search results through Google. Another important factor in digital libraries is the architecture used to create them. Once they are created if libraries want their collections used, they need to market them and promote them to students, faculty and researchers. Digital collections and remote access to them is crucial to meeting the needs of academic researchers.

Digital library services provide users with access to the catalog, databases, subject guides, interlibrary loan, digital collections, document delivery and reference services. The extent of digital services allows users to browse collections, databases, and the library catalog. It provides researchers with the opportunity to identify the possible resources to use for their project. Users can access these materials on or off-campus with patron authentication through either EZproxy or VPN. Once a patron provides their user, ID and password, they can access the materials they need. User acceptance and student perception of digital libraries or digital library services is important because without them the collections and services will be underutilized. In the digital age, easy access to materials they need and want is an expectation from researchers.

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