Digital Libraries and Society: New Perspectives on Information and Dissemination

Digital Libraries and Society: New Perspectives on Information and Dissemination

Ian H. Witten (University of Waikato, New Zealand)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-441-5.ch011
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Abstract

Digital libraries are large, organized collections of information objects. Well-designed digital library software has the potential to enable non-specialist people to conceive, assemble, build, and disseminate new information collections. This has great social import because, by democratizing information dissemination, it provides a counterbalance to disturbing commercialization initiatives in the information and entertainment industries. This chapter reviews trends in today’s information environment, introduces digital library technology and explores the use of digital libraries for disseminating humanitarian information in developing countries, a context that is both innovative and socially motivated. We demonstrate how currently available technology empowers users to build and publish information collections. Conventional public libraries are founded on the principle of open access, and extending this to digital libraries presents a challenge to human-computer interaction—a challenge that is magnified if open access is extended to those who create library collections too.

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