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Master, soon I’ll be

2006 January 24

As I’ve mentioned I’m very close to earning my MLIS. I’ve just begun my final class, a ‘studio class’ taught by David Lankes called Planning and Creating a Digital Library (IST 759). I’m to use the semester to build a portfolio to demonstrate my understanding of a number of facets; among them, wonderfully enough, WordPress, MySQL, and PHP. The class content is not only in my particular area of interest, but it could provide the nudge I need to start a few projects that I’ve been wanting to do.

When the Information School first offered the Digital Libraries Certificate, I hesitated. I do not see my professional future involving scanners, CMS, or preservation – all indicative of what ‘Digital Library’ has come to mean. Identifying a group of materials from a collection (from the Archives or Special Collections department), reproducing that sub-collection digitally, assigning metadata to it, and making it available via a website or a library’s OPAC is wonderful and valuable, but it is not a Digital Library. It is an online exhibit.

Still, I followed the program’s curriculm becoming more and more opinionated about the misnomer. I’ve concluded that a ‘Digital Library’ is simply a library’s presence on the internet…. sounds like the website, doesn’t it? Yes, indeed. It’s the website, as an access point and consistent interface to all the remote services and online resources a library offers – including a digital collection. To define it as anything else is to risk further alienating our users by assigning yet another non-intuitive library definition to an otherwise descriptive term.

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