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Exploring Digital Libraries: Foundations, Practice, Prospects



A landmark textbook on digital libraries for LIS students, educators and practising information professionals throughout the world. Exploring Digital Libraries is a highly readable, thought-provoking authorative and in-depth treatment of the digital library arena that provides an up-to-date overview of the progress, nature and future impact of digital libraries, from their collections and technology-centred foundations over two decades ago to their emergent, community-centred engagement with the social web. This essential textbook: • Brings students and working librarians up to date on the progress, nature and impact of digital libraries, bridging the gap since the publication of the best-known digital library texts • Frames digital library research and practice in the context of the social web and makes the case for moving beyond collections to a new emphasis on libraries' value to their communities • Introduces several new frameworks and novel syntheses that elucidate digital library themes, suggest strategic directions, and break new ground in the digital library literature. • Calls a good deal of attention to digital library research, but is written from the perspective of strategy and in-depth experience • Provides a global perspective and integrates material from many sources in one place - the chapters on open repositories and hybrid libraries draw together past, present and prospective work in a way that is unique in the literature. Readership: Exploring Digital Libraries suits the needs of a range of readers, from working librarians and library leaders to LIS students and educators, or anyone who wants a highly readable and thought-provoking overview of the field and its importance to the future of libraries.
1. Emergence and definitions of digital libraries 2. Outcomes of digital libraries' first decade 3. Key themes and challenges in digital libraries 4. Digital Library Collections: Repositories 5. Hybrid Libraries 6. Social Roles of Digital Libraries 7. Digital Libraries and their Communities 8. The Prospects of Open Access Repositories 9. Digital Libraries and the Social Web: Scholarship 10. Digital Libraries and the Social Web: Collections and Platforms.

Karen Calhoun B.A., M.S., M.B.A. is an internationally respected librarian and change leader who is currently at the University of Pittsburgh helping to develop community-centred services. She is an active researcher, writer, speaker and consultant on digital libraries and related disciplines and has just completed a celebrated tenure at OCLC.

[Karen Calhoun] has done an amazing job of capturing the digital library world from the 90's to today. She does this not as some sort of annotated bibliography, but as a conceptual evolution. You can see the development of digital libraries from collections of stuff, to communities of interest. She also merges the disparate worlds of computer science and library science together in a masterful way. She uses the history to create a robust platform for understanding digital libraries today…in essence making the field feel relevant and refreshed. If you have a chance I strongly recommend the book.

R. David Lankes

This book provides an overview of the digital turn in libraries. It is informed by the rich and varied professional experience of its author, by extensive research across several national and international contexts, and by a rare synthesizing ability. It fills a clear gap in the library literature, exploring technical and research developments from the perspective of evolving library services and organization.

Lorcan Dempsey

Exploring Digital Libraries fills a gaping hole in library science literature and textbooks. Supported by her own extensive professional experience, Calhoun traces the history and impact of digital libraries from the 1990s through today. Not only does she give a comprehensive history of digital libraries, but she also queries how the digital library might evolve in the future, as our knowledge and experience with the web and web-based projects deepen. From the "cloud" to "community," and from the "mass digitization" to the "digital divide," Calhoun has meticulously covered everything the reader needs to know in this clear, easy to follow textbook. Exploring Digital Libraries also transcends the traditional textbook, and will be incredibly useful to practicing librarians. Calhoun has meticulously gathered data on digital libraries and their respective projects, giving valuable insight into what worked, what did not work, and why. This is a book by a librarian for other librarians, and that really is what makes this book stand out. This is a must-have reference for the library, and it will be especially helpful to those librarians looking to understand where the digital library has been, where it stands now, where it may be going, and how we, as librarians, can most effectively employ digital libraries for our communities.


Despite all of the rhetoric about digital libraries over the past decade, what do we really know about their success? Calhoun uses hard data to determine which projects have been successful and which have not--and why. More importantly, she inspires all of to think about what digital libraries could be--again, not with aspirational language, but with hard evidence. This is the definitive statement of the development of digital libraries to date. Calhoun has been a leading thinker in designing the digital future, and, as it turns out, she is equally good at assessing our progress.

Deanna Marcum (Ithaka S+R)

The students studying Digital Libraries and Information Services Master's programme at our University are the first to whom I am recommending this book. I would suggest it also to other library and information science programmes as a course book - it addresses most of the topics related to digital libraries as collections and services. Practising librarians and information specialists should read it looking for examples of best practice and useful ideas for strategic planning and everyday work, but also for making sense of what is happening in the digital library world.

Information Research

Because the book is packed with so many topics, it allows the reader to learn about areas that are often glossed over in the daily running of a library; this is partly because they occur seamlessly. This book allows readers to take away sections of information which can then be used to better integrate and make more interoperable the digital libraries they manage. This really is a must read for those working in the digital library environment and for those who wish to explore digital library concepts further.

Online Information Review

...a thorough examination of the past, present, and future prospects of digital libraries, and I recommend it to students, scholars, and practising librarians.


This book should be in all libraries serving LIS programmes, but is also a recommended read for all information managers involved with the development of digital libraries.

The Electronic Library

This well researched, easy to read text is a must have for those interested not only in digital libraries but in the future of libraries in general, as well as those seeking new ways to engage with their community and promote the value of libraries in challenging times.

Australian Academic & Research Libraries interesting book bringing together many topics with which LIS professionals are likely to be familiar. It will appeal to students, researchers and professionals keen to further their professional development.

It is a strong foundational text in the area, and provides enough theory and practice of digital libraries to be a useful postgrad textbook.

The University of Strathclyde

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