Juan D. Machin-Mastromatteo (Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico)
Anna Maria Tammaro (Department of Information Engineering, University of Parma, Parma, Italy)

Digital Library Perspectives

ISSN: 2059-5816

Article publication date: 11 August 2021

Issue publication date: 11 August 2021



Machin-Mastromatteo, J.D. and Tammaro, A.M. (2021), "Editorial", Digital Library Perspectives, Vol. 37 No. 3, pp. 189-191. https://doi.org/10.1108/DLP-08-2021-132



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

During the preparation of our two previous special issues related to digital libraries and COVID-19 and especially after their publication, at least five lingering questions remain: Did they miss us? Are we still relevant? What will happen when we reopen our libraries? Will we have the same resources as before the pandemic? How can we address these issues through digital libraries and services? This has been a growing concern from colleagues with whom we have shared both informal conversations and spotlights at the various webinars in which we participate, either as speakers and as part of the audience. By the way, if we may count something as a positive consequence of this horrible pandemic, it seems that online activities, collaborations and conferences, which in the past were underestimated, have finally gained a larger value, because we did not have any other choice so far. Hence, currently there are no significant taboos associated with inviting a colleague to deliver an online class to our students, we are increasingly seeing the value of webinars, and we might even be collaborating with colleagues from other countries with more frequency and dedication than with those that were located in the same building at the university campus. Obviously, librarians have not been strangers to these new dynamics, as this context has also motivated colleagues to enhance the provision of digital services to continue engaging their users, to provide training and collaborate with each other, and they have used online communication tools to foster community development.

We leave the cited questions open for you, dear readers and authors, as a call to action and to reflect upon your upcoming next steps. However, as we have noted with various stakeholders in the Library and Information Science (LIS) profession who have remained very active during the pandemic, this Digital Library Perspectives issue provides a very good sample of our possibilities, perspectives, as well as the active and diverse roles we can assume. This issue includes very interesting and useful insights and instruments that you may use for studying the usage of digital libraries or ebooks, reflecting upon how prepared are librarians for implementing digital and research data services, assessing if LIS research conforms to bibliometric rules such as Lotka’s law, increasing the awareness of scholars toward the importance of preventing plagiarism, getting the inspiration to collaborate with the academia for implementing information literacy within academic programs of very specific disciplines and lastly, meditating on the social implications of digital libraries.

We open this issue with “Identifying the factors influencing digital library use among research students: A case of National Digital Library of Pakistan” by Mubeen, Soroya and Mahmood, where they studied the use of this library through a quantitative study with the application of a survey to graduate students. They found that the National Digital Library was used at least once a month and the groups of students who used it most often were female, enrolled in PhD programs and mainly from social sciences programs. Several features of the site encouraged its use, such as how results are displayed, the characteristics of the items and navigational aids, although some issues prevent a more extensive use, namely, the preference of printed documents over digital, slow connection speeds and the unavailability of older publications.

Atanda, Owolabi and Ugbala present “Professional competence and attitudes of library personnel towards digital services of university libraries in Nigeria,” in which they surveyed 196 staff members from five libraries located in Ogun State. They found that an internet service was the most common service offered in libraries, that staff had basic digital skills and the largest issue was related to power supply. They presented a relevant instrument with good reliability values that may be useful for evaluating libraries in other developing countries, as it allows assessing available digital services, staff professional competences, as well as attitudes and challenges toward digital library services.

In “Author productivity pattern and applicability of Lotka’s inverse square law: A bibliometric appraisal of selected LIS open access journals,” Barik and Jena analyzed the applicability of Lotka’s inverse square law of scientific productivity to the authorship for articles from selected LIS journals indexed in Scopus and listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals for a period from 2001 to 2015. Findings included that the authorship patterns did not fit Lotka’s law and that observed vs. expected distributions were widely different. As with the case of previous studies with similar findings, the authors suggested reexamining Lotka’s prediction patterns.

Joo and Schmidt contributed “Research data services from the perspective of academic librarians,” surveyed academic librarians from the USA, who were engaged in data services (RDS) (e.g. research data management, digital curation, as well as research data documentation, analysis, visualization, archiving or preservation) to evaluate their perception of such services. They classified RDS in two types, consultation and technical services, and they found that librarians think that consultation services might be more valuable to users than technical services but also that libraries would require establishing new collaborations with other stakeholders to develop technical services, while some of the challenges included lack of training and awareness of librarians regarding RDS.

Next, Mostofa, Tabassum and Ahmed presented “Researchers’ awareness about plagiarism and impact of plagiarism detection tools: Does awareness affect the actions towards preventing plagiarism?” They surveyed the perceptions of 184 researchers from Bangladesh toward plagiarism, their awareness of the tools for its detection and the actions they undertake to prevent it. They used an interesting survey that may be very useful for researching these issues in other countries. Their findings include that 75% of the researchers are aware of these issues and tools, over 50% have used anti-plagiarism software on their own works and that a good level of awareness toward plagiarism, and its detection tools may cause researchers to implement more sophisticated actions toward its prevention.

“How can governments nudge students to become ebook readers? Evidence from Indonesia” by Pratama and Firmansyah presents the findings of a survey to 1,144 high school students from rural areas of Indonesia, which included that government’s actions to provide digital textbooks to students may increase their preference toward ebooks, although this does not necessarily affect their liking of printed books; also, early adopters of mobile devices may also prefer ebooks over printed books.

In “Diagnosing Spanish literature bachelor students’ information literacy in digital environments,” by Cid, Machin-Mastromatteo and Tarango adapted and implemented the Association of College and Research Library’s Research Competency Guidelines for Literatures in English to develop a diagnostic instrument that assessed the information competences, particularly those within digital information systems, of students enrolled in a Spanish literature bachelor program and also used it for determining if there was a relationship among their skills, academic performance and their study conditions. The development stage of their skills ranged from regular to low, but there were no notable relationships among the information literacy skills, academic performance or their study conditions. Authors argued that literature professors might not be aware of information literacy or they may not perceive it as important for their students or their courses. They also highlighted that it is necessary to develop stronger guidelines and initiatives for implementing information literacy in literature-related studies.

Finally, we have “Democracy, digitisation and public libraries,” by Bo Skøtt, which deals with the democratic challenges that emerged from the digitisation of Denmark’s public libraries. Identifying challenges are related to digital dissemination, society’s digital transformation, access to information, knowledge and culture, as well as furthering the divides among people with and without technological skills. This contribution’s rationale and analysis might be surprising coming from a developed country, but it is an intriguing read and highlights challenges that may be even larger in developing countries.

Corresponding author

Anna Maria Tammaro is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: annamaria.tammaro@unipr.it

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