Digital Library

English General Library Science

What is a Digital Library?

Libraries are live organizations, so consideration of future needs- ‘Future thinking’ is very important. As the fifth law of library science given by Dr. S.R. Ranganathan suggest “Libraries are growing organisms”, the libraries are facing the dual challenge of accommodating rapidly changing populations and keeping pace with information and communication technology. There arise the important question of how to organize and manage the ever growing size of collections varied in nature, the services, the users, the staff etc. in a systematic manner and that too in a limited space. The answer to this question is Digital Libraries.

 Digital Library
A Digital Library is an organized and focused collection of digital objects, including text, images, video and audio along with methods for access and retrieval and for selection, creation, organization and maintenance of the collection.

In simple terms, a digital library is a collection of information that is stored and accessed electronically. Terms such as “Electronic Library” and “Virtual Library are often used synonymously.


Work Flow of a digital Library:

  • Selection of source documents;
  • Content digitalization/acquisition;
  • Content organization (Meta-data preparation, full-text tagging);
  • Content publishing (Quality control, content loading);
  • Content indexing and storage (repository);
  • Access and delivery (services).


Functional Components of a Digital Library:

A. Initial Conversion to content from physical to digital form.

B. The extraction or creation of metadata or indexing information describing the content of facilitate searching and discovery, as well as administrative and structural metadata to assist in object viewing, management and preservation.

C. Storage of digital content and metadata in an appropriate multimedia repository

  •  The repository will include rights management capabilities to enforce intellectual property rights, if required. E-commerce functionality may also be present if needed to handle accounting and building.

D. Client server for the browser, including repository querying and workflow.

E. Content delivery via file transfer or streaming media.
F. Patron access through a browser or dedicated client.
G. A private or public network.


Digital Library software features:

1. Different logical document types and levels.

  • Books/ chapter, conference paper, journal/paper, lecture, project report, photographs, etc.

2. Associate metadata with document types.
3. Different document formats

  • Word, PDF, HTML, PS, etc.

4. Document acquisition/ publishing

  • Online/ offline,
  • Central/ distributed,
  •  Quality control.

5. Indexing and delivery

  • Automatic metadata extraction,
  • structured/ full text indexing,
  • Data compression.

6. Access and delivery

  • Structured search, browse, object searching, hierarchical browsing, fine grained search.
  • CD/DVD-ROM distribution.
  • personalization, customization.

How do you digitalizes a book?

Book are typically digitalized by using an overhead scanner which creates an image of each page, which is then OCR’d for full searching, then uploaded and made available on a digital library.

Benefits or Advantages of Digital Library:

A digital library is not confined to a particular location or so called building it is virtually distributed all over the world. The user can get his/ her information on his own computer screen by using the Internet. Actually it is a network of multimedia system, which provides fingertip access.

  • No physical boundary: The user of a digital library need not to go to the library physically, people from all over the world could gain access to the same information, as long as an Internet connection is available.
  • Round the clock availability: Digital libraries can be accessed at any time, 24 hours a day and 365 days of the year.
  • Multiple accesses: The same resources can be used at the same time by a number of users.
  • Structured approach: Digital library provides access to much richer content in a more structured manner i.e. we can easily move from the catalog to the particular book then to a particular chapter and so on.
  • Information retrieval: The user is able to use any search term bellowing to the word or phrase of the entire collection. Digital library will provide very user friendly interfaces, giving click able access to its resources.
  • Preservation and conservation: An exact copy of the original can be made any number of times without any degradation in quality.
  • Space: Whereas traditional libraries are limited by storage space, digital libraries have the potential to store much more information, simply because digital information requires very little physical space to contain them. When the library had no space for extension digitization is the only solution.
  • Networking: A particular digital library can provide the link to any other resources of other digital library very easily thus a seamlessly integrated resource sharing can be achieved.
  • Cost: The cost of maintaining a digital library is much lower than that of a traditional library. A traditional library must spend large sums of money paying for staff, book maintains, rent, and additional books. Digital libraries do away with these fees.


Some Others benefits of Digital Libraries are:

  • Cost effective for libraries on a limited budget.
  •  Gives more access to users, especially third world countries.
  • Access is usually free.
  • Not limited to just a computer, but also smart phones and tablets.
  • Preserves materials for future generations.
  • Digital library provides a starting points for all research.
  • The digital library is ideal in support of students receiving their schooling using distance learning education.
  • Provide excellent opportunities for a broad range of patrons to find appropriate research materials all in one place.
  • The access to information is not dependent on the patron being in one location.
  • Digital libraries can be customized so user can have access to what they want and need to use.
  • Brings the library to the user.
  • Improve access – searching and browsing.
  • information can be shared more easily.
  • easier to keep information current.
  • Information is always available.
  • Wider access.
  • Allow collaboration and exchange of ideas.
  • Save money and time.
  • Improved preservation.

Challenges of Digital library.

  • Obsolescence of books.
  • Sometimes maintenance costs can be high.
  • Experiences digital archivist’s salaries may be too high for library budgets.
  • Software obsolescence.
  • Access is an equity issue.
  • Enough but too many resources.
  • Network bandwidth.

Declaration: Articles shared in this blog are collected from different sources available on the internet to help students of Library and Information Science. Sources are mentioned in the reference section of the article. If you have any objections about the content of this blog, feel free to contact the site admin at