Digital Disambiguation by Eleta Exline
In practice, digital libraries are often viewed as an extension of traditional library collections. They usually contain digitized materials from the library’s paper or analog collections, and are often drawn from rare books collections, special collections, archives, or otherwise highlight the particular strengths of a given library. Digital library collections have focused on these types of materials because digital formats are an ideal access medium for items too fragile to withstand repeated handling, materials too rare to circulate, and formats awkward to handle and manipulate in the original, such as large maps. When appropriate standards are used for digitizing, structuring, and describing these materials, digital libraries can be considered analogous to other preservation reformatting and distribution processes, such as microfilm. The digital library concept can be expanded to include materials in any digital format, including sound, video, multi-media, “born-digital” (resources that were originally created in an electronic environment), data sets, computer programs, and licensed content such as e-books and art images purchased from vendors.
Digital library collections are most often stored in Digital Asset Management Systems (DAMS), which are specialized storage and retrieval systems that support digital formats and metadata. Metadata for digital collections is typically repurposed from existing records in library catalogs (when they exist) or is created by library personnel, much as other library materials are cataloged. The proliferation of digital libraries has inspired a parallel proliferation of metadata standards that are used not only describe the digital content, but also provide its structure and enable its management (Read more about metadata). Some storage and delivery systems offer opportunities for enhanced functionality such as full-text searching and image manipulation, allowing users to interact with library resources in ways not previously possible. The UNH Library currently uses DigiTool as our DAMS.
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