Skip to Main Content

PH 570: Introduction to Health Informatics

What are digital libraries?

“… are organizations that provide the resources, including the specialized staff to select, structure, offer intellectual access to, interpret, distribute, preserve the integrity of and ensure the persistence over time of collections of digital works so that they are readily and economically available for use by a defined community or set of communities” Waters, 1998

Different Types of Digital Libraries 

  • Paper/Analog Library (PL): classical paper library with card catalog. 
  • Automated/Hybrid Library (AL) : paper library with a computerized catalog
  • Digital Library (DL): computerized library in which most of the information is digital
    • Stand-alone Digital Library (SDL): This is the regular classical library implemented in a fully computerized fashion. SDL is simply a library in which the holdings are digital (scanned or digitized). The SDL is self-contained - the material is localized and centralized. In fact, it is a computerized instance of the classical library with the benefits of computerization.
    • Federated Digital Library (FDL): A FDL composes several autonomous SDLs that form a networked library with a transparent user interface. The different SDLs are heterogeneous and are connected via communication networks. The major challenge in the construction and maintenance of a FDL is interoperability (since the different repositories use different metadata formats and standards)
    • Harvested Digital Library (HDL): This is a virtual library providing summarized access to related material scattered over the network. A HDL holds only metadata with pointers to the holdings that are "one click away" in Cyberspace. The material held in the  libraries is harvested (converted into summaries) according to the definition of an Information Specialist (IS). However, a HDL has regular DL characteristics, it is finely grained and subject focused. It has rich library services, and has high quality control preserved by the IS, who is also responsible for annotating the objects in the library.