Sunday, April 30, 2006

The NSDL: What is a digital library anyway?!

I was looking at the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) and I couldn't help but go back to the beginning and wonder...What is a digital library anyway? After looking at this site I starting thinking that defining a DL has alot to do with context. While my initial impression of the NSDL was that it is not a digital library. After pondering the idea I decided that my initial definition of the term "DL," with its connection to the creation of content didn't necessarily hold true.

I was connecting the two (content and its creation) when really there seems to be no need to do so. Each resource that is available on the site was not created by the folks at the NSDL (as far as I could tell). It was merely a fancy directory. Similar to the Librarians' Internet Index (LII) but with a different set of criteria for inclusion. Wait...is this a DL or a "meta-DL?"

So this leads me to see the problem of defining "DL" as one of granularity. At what level should these web sites be analyzed? Context is the answer, its almost how the creators of these resources market themselves that makes a DL a DL...and hey, if you want to sell your website as a DL when you really are directory of DLs that is fine. It does lead to confusion but oh well. Am I being fatalistic?

1 comment:

Jill Hurst-Wahl said...

A digital library should have some tools to enhance the retrieval of information, I think. But do those tools "make" a digital library?