Digital Libraries: Policy, Planning and Practice

Wendy Flannery (Retravision, Blackburn, Australia)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 30 May 2008




Flannery, W. (2008), "Digital Libraries: Policy, Planning and Practice", Library Management, Vol. 29 No. 4/5, pp. 452-453.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

For those of you who are about to embark upon some form of digitalisation within your library, this book would be an useful reference source, providing insights from real‐life projects that have been implemented in North America, Europe, the Middle East and South Africa. Given the complexities of issues which are inherent in digital library projects, this book can only be a “guide” to planning and implementation, providing research papers and case study examples on which to base your decision‐making processes. As the editors state, it is intended as a “snapshot” of some issues in this area. The rapid rate of change in the capabilities and applications of technologies, and the unique needs of individual libraries, ensures that this subject area will always be in a state of flux, however this book focuses on issues and obstacles which may be encountered regardless of the technology or digitalisation project you may be implementing. In that regard, and despite it being three years post‐publication, there is much useful information to be gained for those in the planning stages of such a project.

The case studies included range in scope from large nationally funded projects, to small specialised projects, in‐house and collaborative projects, and cover both digitized and “born‐digital” materials – so whatever your project there are sure to be a few gems of wisdom from which the reader may benefit.

Part 1, “Policy and planning”, explores five key digital library policy areas: economics, content, scholarly communication, preservation and evaluation. Possibly the most critical of these are the economic considerations involved, and one paper here provides a useful exploration of potential funding options. Another paper considers the growing variety of digital content with which libraries are now grappling with, from electronic journals and books, digitized print collections, and the issues involved such as the current absence of agreed repository standards, the motives for digitising a collection, collections from multiple repositories, shared services, licensing agreements, and the complexities of the various platforms and gateways facilitating access, to name just a few. This section also includes some thoughts on the “why, how and what” decisions that should be considered in digital preservation, and concludes with an overview of the true costs involved in such a process. The final paper in this section discusses the role of electronic resource evaluation, providing some useful tools and templates for adaptation to other projects.

Part 2, “Implementation and Practice”, includes the five case studies, which range from projects in a public library, a university library, a single‐subject (music) library, and international collaborative collection, and digital projects from the Library of Congress. The common thread that is highlighted through these vastly different projects, is that there is no single solution to the challenges of digital library projects. These studies provide a range of solutions which may or may not be transferable to other projects, but the issues and obstacles, successes and failures outlined, give ample food for thought for any library considering similar implementations, allowing us to benefit from the “first‐hand” insights of those who have endured the process.

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