In: Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
vol. 38, pp. 209-223.
A survey of digital library education
, New Brunswick, New Jersey
The concept of digital library has several differing interpretations, derived from different communities involved in
digital library research, practice, organization, and commerce. Educational offerings followed these activities. The
major aim of the paper is to present results from a survey on the current state of digital library education in
academic institutions. But we also examine the rationale and orientation for digital library education. We suggest
several models that have emerged in the teaching of digital libraries and in incorporation of relevant topics into
Digital library is a term and concept that serves as an umbrella for a great many of diverse activities. Virtual
library, electronic library, library without walls and a few other terms have also been used to carry a similar
connotation, but the term 'digital library' seems to be here to stay. But what does this concept cover? A number of
differing interpretations exist, as formulated by sharply different and divided communities that have something to
do with digital libraries.
In this paper we are concerned with education for digital libraries. Clearly, the differing interpretations of what is
meant by digital library, as well as what topics or activities are covered provide necessary educational context(s)
and perspective for choices and orientation from curricula to courses to topics. The classic educational questions,
asked about teaching in all educational areas, are being asked in great many institutions in relation to digital
Why teach digital libraries?
What to teach about digital libraries?
How to teach about digital libraries?
The first question relates to specification of a rationale to incorporate teaching of digital libraries in a given
educational perspective, framework, curriculum, or even course -- there is much more to a rationale than
pragmatically saying: "It is there, thus we teach." The second question deals with selection of content from a
myriad of topics from general to specific that are directly connected with digital libraries and are based on the
chosen rationale. The third question gets to choices not necessarily only of pedagogy, but more importantly, of
ways and means to incorporate and organize the chosen topics into given curricula, courses, and offerings.
In this paper we explore the three questions in an analytical way and with the 'real world' as a primary source. Our
goal is not to be prescriptive. For the question on rationale, we briefly explore the nature and growth of different
activities related to digital libraries. Their existence is forcing educational choices. For the second question, we
explore the different conceptions of digital libraries as perceived in different communities. The third question