Virtual Libraries

Virtual Libraries

Diane M. Fulkerson (University of South Florida Polytechnic Library, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0234-2.ch010

Abstract

Virtual libraries are often considered the same as digital collections but in fact, they are different from digital collections given the fact they often contain links to reference sources or subject specific materials including reference books or web sites. Virtual libraries originally intended for distance education students but are available for any researcher or student.
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Virtual libraries were created by states to provide their residents with the opportunity to use a collection of electronic resources for research. Researchers through a state supported virtual library will have access to newspapers, magazines and scholarly journals they may not normally have access to without attending college. The difference between a digital library and a virtual library is the content. A digital library usually consists of images, manuscripts, videos, and often materials from special collections or university archives. The University of Georgia has created two very good digital libraries. One is the Digital Library of Georgia. This digital library contains Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, images from counties in Georgia, slave narratives, Georgia Historic Newspapers and historical broadsides are just a few of the many collections contained within this digital library. The second digital library created by the University of Georgia is the Civil Rights Digital Library. This digital library allows you to search by event by year, places or people. The digital library contains numerous news videos that chronicle the Civil Rights Movement in its early years. Among the events included are the Freedom Rides and the integration of the University of Mississippi. Virtual libraries can contain digital collections but they consist primarily of databases and e-book collections. While most digital collections do not require a password or some type of authentication state supported virtual libraries do have that requirement. In order to access the virtual library you need have a library card for a library in that state, a driver's license or an IP address indicating you are a resident of the state.

Virtual libraries allow you to find materials you would use for research purposes. Most of the virtual libraries contain a selection of databases purchased by the Board of Regents or the state library and are available to all citizens of the state to use for their research purposes. A quick Internet search for state virtual libraries brings up a link for almost every state. While they all have different names, they all provide a collection of databases for use by the public and in particular students in grades K-12. With declining funding for education at the state level virtual libraries, fill the gap for electronic resources for students. All of the virtual libraries allow people to access them remotely. Below are some examples of virtual libraries with information on how to access them.

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