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Digital libraries, digital containers, “library patrons”, and visions for the future

Wallace Koehler (Director, Odum Library, Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia, USA)

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 1 October 2004



Visions of user‐centered approaches to digital library futures are uncertain. One can best understand what those futures portent by briefly exploring one's roots and traditions and concepts of service. Much of the future will be driven by technological change, but it will be moderated by the sense of service and purpose brought to the digital library by the people who use it and by the people who work in and through it. The digital library of the future will be impacted by several factors, one of which is the newly digital nature or format for information. Another is the redefinition of the book in at least some cases from a static to a fluid medium. The seeming inability to archive fluid media has changed libraries. Digital libraries are now distributed constructs of the mind rather than physical buildings with paper content. All of this, in turn, has led to new means and mechanisms for the management, classification, distribution, identification, retrieval, and storage of information in ways heretofore unimaginable. In the medium to long term, new means as yet not imagined will be developed to meet our information needs to further redefine digital libraries.



Koehler, W. (2004), "Digital libraries, digital containers, “library patrons”, and visions for the future", The Electronic Library, Vol. 22 No. 5, pp. 401-407.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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