Digital libraries are like regular libraries. They support the access of information to users by making resources available; however, digital libraries are based in the electronic realm while libraries, although moving more and more toward electronic materials, have physical repositories and resources. Digital libraries are often created to extend collections of materials to a broader user group. They can contain textual, audio, and visual material. Some focus their collections on public domain material, material that is freely accessible due to the expiration of copyright protection, but some digital libraries catalogue material that is copyright protected and only allow access to a small portion of the whole.
Examples of Digital Library Initiatives
Google Books began in 2002 as a research project supported by the Stanford Digital Libraries Technologies Project. With Google Books you can browse or search the catalogue. Once you find a book, depending on copyright, you will be able to access some or all of the work. If you want full access you will be given the option to “Buy this book” or “Borrow this book.” You can also create an account with Google Books and add books to your “library.”
Project Gutenberg scans and distributes ebooks, and now musical scores, that are within public domain. It is the largest collection of free ebooks available and is completely maintained by volunteers. Project Gutenberg provides ebooks in all languages and now has a collection of over 100,000 titles.
LibriVox is like Project Gutenberg. LibriVox uses books in the public domain but instead of having textual ebooks, LibriVox offers a catalogue of audio books. LibriVox is maintained by volunteers. The volunteers can choose a book and either individually or jointly record themselves reading the chapters. Once the book is complete it is made freely available via the LibriVox catalogue.
Digital archives contain collections of primary sources which are materials that have survived from the past (e.g. letters, diaries, photographs, etc.). Unlike digital libraries, digital archives contain unique materials that are usually collected based on the organizations mission.
Academic repositories are initiatives supported individually and collaboratively by academic institutions to preserve the intellectual output of a scholarly community. An academic repository maintains a digital collection of such academic materials as articles, conference papers, theses, and teaching material, from a given institution. The goal of these repositories is to support scholarly communication and to make the material more widely available within a more cost effective system.
York University has its own institutional repository called YorkSpace