Week 2 LIS 2670 Digital Libraries Blog Essay

Something that immediately came to mind while reading the journal article, A Framework for Building Open Digital Libraries, is that it is a must for libraries of the future to be the most technologically advanced they can be, and that it is extremely important that the new librarians be tech-minded and savvy. Librarians need to be the bridge between programmers and developers (which I hope libraries employ on their tech staff but have a feeling most don’t) and other staff members who are filtering the technology down to employees and ultimately patrons. The article focuses largely on innovations in backend organization and development of DLs and the importance of open source, and Open Archive technology as the backbone of Open Digital Libraries. Creating simple technology for DLs such as software toolkits that can be used and easily repurposed by non-developers is key in the advancement of digital libraries. Also, Open Digital Libraries that allow public access to the development of their technology, code, algorithms, etc. follows the precedent set by some of the most revolutionary tech companies. This made me think DLs who employ programmers and developers instead of contracting this work out would be more efficient and benefit from the knowledge exchanges that a community of lib devs would cultivate.

My The Muddiest Point (TMP) question for this week is, Do most libraries, paper and digital, employ developers and programmers on their staff?

Important points in the article, An Architecture for Information in Digital Libraries, include the introduction of the term digital object, which is ‘a way of structuring information in digital form’ sometimes in the form of metadata, and ‘includes a unique identifier, called a handle’ and can be grouped in sets of digital objects and read by a specially-designed interface. Users search and items are recalled from a repository. Librarians need to be able to identify the needs of their community when creating the structure of information for their library’s DL and recognize the ongoing effort to keep pace with technology. Flexibility and simplicity are key, as is an awareness of copyrights. Librarian catalogers are the staff members who are especially aware of data type and digital objects and their organization. The backend of a DL should be thought of as a living, breathing thing that needs constant feeding and maintenance.

In What is the Internet (And What Makes It Work), it’s interesting to consider the architecture of the net. We realize that the underlying foundation of all Digital Libraries is the Internet and experience the ‘global reach’ of information. Protocols (TCP/IP) create an infrastructure upon which data structures are built to create a global communication system. Sharing information and collaboration are just two benefits of this method of low cost communication. The article covers infrastructure history and packet switching, the rise of independent data structures, internet addresses (domain names) and Netscape. The collaboration that brought about the Internet is especially impressive. One way libraries are affected by the infrastructure of the Internet is in the architecture of URL addresses. For example, International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) can be used as part of the addresses, directing users to sites where you can reserve, read or purchase the book.