With the popularity of the Internet, information technology continuously progresses, most people can feel modicum of impact. Due to fueled by information technology, people’s demands on the Internet using and diffusing digital information are increasing. Traditional newspapers or books’ transmission speed is really no comparison compared to now network’s transmission speed. So, traditional library’s business is facing unprecedented challenges.
The development of technology makes the operation of library have a significant change. The standards judging the library is successful or not are no longer the number of collections on the hardware, or magnificent and wide buildings, but how the software allows the reader to quickly and correctly get what he wanted. In short, accurate information Access supply has become the library’s main function that replaced large numbers of information Storage, and Digital Library through by the help of digital network technology is therefore able to achieve this ultimate goal.
I. Definition and Characteristics of Digital Library
(1) Definition of Digital Library:
According to 1992 Christine Borgman’s definition for Digital Library, he believes that the Digital Library is a kind of service that can anytime and anywhere provide information to readers when they need. Also is virtual library in digital form to collect, store and organize all types of information, and through the communication network to provide to readers.
Digital Library refers to a virtual library that storing book information with digital mode and through computer network to provide readers using. Digital Library is also called electronic library, merely electronic library generally refers to all libraries with electronic mode storing, processing, querying and using, but Digital Library stresses that the data is stored digitally. So, the scope of electronic library should include Digital Library.
Digital Library can be seen as an extension of entity library, also is a kind of information retrieval system, not only put the files or objects on the network to be used by readers. So the Digital Library is generally defined: 「A kind of information service that founds and stores a mass of digital multimedia information, supplies high-efficiency, high-performance and conforming information research and searches function, and meets individual needs」. This new type information application mode could be applied to various fields e.g. business, environmental science, medicine, cultural heritage and entertainment, their users can query and use it.
(2) Characteristics of Digital Library
Ideal Digital Library’s function is that make any reader no matter what time and in any corner of the world can use network and find wanted information without visiting the library during opening hours, readers can print full-text, or for electronic document storage and edit.
In terms of the using-surface, Digital Library system through the input clerk making the traditional data digitize by keyboard, image scanner and disk etc. tools; in terms of editor, has edit, classification, retrieval and permission settings etc. functions; administrators carry out data index, system resource management, pricing/ account management, login / storage and other operations; readers can read, query, print and save recorded data; further, intelligent agent can automatically search wanted Internet related information. So, whole Digital Library system’s characteristics are: multimedia (words, pictures, audio messages, video messages) document management; intelligent full-text searches; file access control and version control; multi-function network edit and view; system security management; intelligent information search engine; publishing business support tools; network communication security.
Digital Library’s development is in response to the information highway and needs of information society, the main reason that it has an unprecedented attention of many countries is changing book information management and application model and having many characteristics of traditional library can’t compete, its characteristics are as following:
1. Main collections are digital full-text information: All books, magazines, technical reports, news, sound and cartoon etc. data are all presented by digital type, different from traditional library’s digital data which with bibliography information as main information.
2. Computer media is data’s main storage: The data’s storage is computer media, not bookshelf.
3. Service without effect whether time or space: All year and day open service; sub-set libraries through network connecting co-operation and sharing resources.
4. Flexible use location: Places that network can reach e.g. library, office, lab, home, are available on line.
5. Services to the global people: All on-line people can use, the objects extend to library inside and outside users and domestic and foreign users.
6. Freely use: In addition to copyright data need to supply service according to the regulations, the data without copyright limit can be freely used by everyone.
7. Auto services: Information’s read will be automatically processed by system, no longer need manual operation.
8. Real-time data transmission: When reading the data, immediate transmission and without waiting.
9. Change the concept of data flows: Influenced by digital information’s characteristics, when users request data, the system will immediately copy, transmit and no longer has borrowing and returning process.
10. Transparent system creates a using environment of “all the world are a family”: Under the application of common agreement and various standards, the system of all libraries used becomes more consistent, when users visit the libraries, only have “come to my home” feel, no strange and alienation troubles.
It can be seen that Digital Library seem to have many advantages, including save a lot of data storage space, transcend or escape time and space limit, shorten display distance, easily copy and can permanent preservation, display by multimedia, has self-determination and interactivity, extension and tractility, high accuracy, retrieval is more efficient and better environment for knowledge and exploration. From Table 1 comparison of Traditional Library and Digital Library, we can learn the differences between the Traditional Library and Digital Library.
II. Development of Digital Library
The development of Digital Library has two main conditions: first, the development of computer technology, in the capacity, speed and ability to handle audio and video data all have great progress. Second, the development of Internet. In 1970s, Internet’s nature was only academic research, by 1994, Internet began to flourish, so far nearly a decade, Internet’s use has become widespread. At present, all digital libraries can provide remote retrieval, online document delivery and rapid real-time services. So, Digital Library can exceed the obstacle of time and space, and with the fastest speed to provide readers wanted information or online delivery of full-text documents, and the client is cross-global.
In many countries, the Digital Library program successively launched since 1992, and most of them made the library as the main body. Development purpose of Digital Library mainly has three:
1. Culture preservation: Preserving precious culture heritage of mankind by digital way, and can integrate precious historical materials, collections and research results collected by the units.
2. Academic research: Place digital materials in the network to allow scholars easily find the necessary information through the network, and provide a complete research environment to promote a study of Digital Library.
3. Education and Learning: Expand the flexibility and scope of matter’s application, provide education and learning content to general primary and secondary school teachers and students. Due to network’s use is popular, so providing these precious data has the value of universal education and can be used by public.
The formation of the Digital Library is from revelations of several important concepts, and only after invention and application of related information technology, the Digital Library can form and lay related basis.
III. Problems faced by Digital Library
1. Interviews of network resources: Now interview work has three kinds of main methods: the first is manual way: filter and check resources on the network by people who are familiar with network resources retrieval technology; the second is automatic way: through Web walkers, worms, spiders, harvesters etc. robot or search engine to gather each node data on the network; the third is recommended by the public: the users recommend useful data through sending Email or filling out the WWW form provided by the server. Under these conditions, how the librarians of Digital Library to develop appropriate way to interview data and to provide accurate summary to make readers be clear at a glance and quickly meet the readers’ requirements?
2. Classification and catalog of network resources: Although traditional classification and catalog way can accurately grasp to collections, but the existent format of digital data is different from the paper data, not only has more edition, irregular update and different catalogue index items, but also scattered in various places, files interconnected and short contents and large numbers. These characteristics will make the traditional way’s efforts not cost-effective which for mastering all information to classified and catalog, and also difficult to keep up with the expansion speed of network resources.
3. Network resources management: Information on the network has a regular or irregular amendment and change characteristic. So, we should collect the data coming from interview to ensure the data exists locally and at any time can use hyperlink to share other people’s data, and ensure that the data is the latest edition.
4. How to provide services to readers: The variability, fragmentary nature and mutual connectivity of network information coupled with Internet needs to use related compute and network technology, what will bring more troubles of information retrieval and utilization to traditional library users. How to continue about the traditional services to meet readers using information needs, without making the characteristics originally for convenience become an obstacle of readers’ utilization.
5. Develop new services: After the emergence of Digital Library, information producer-「Author」will not need printing and publishing procedures and the works can be placed on the network for consumers -「Readers」directly use. After the data are digitized, the convenience of modification, copy, storage and transmission makes intermediary of information order-「Library」can use computer and network technology to provide new services. Face the new readers using information network, what new services we should develop to give full play to the benefits of information technology?
The prime mover of Digital Library is from digital data. The day is just around the corner that digital will become mainstream of publications. The old data need to be digitized. When digital data convert, often face the following problems:
1. Funds burden: The old data are large, so need a lot of money to digital conversion, according to foregoing thing that Library of Congress is scheduled for completion five million digital data in 2000 AD and estimated 60 million U.S. dollars, giant cost we can see from that.
2. Treat with copyright and intellectual property rights: All data with copyright and intellectual property rights should first obtain authorization when implementing digital. Copyright generally has 50 years and according to this regulation, if we want to turn existing paper data into digital, there are still many materials need advance consent and this is a difficult problem.
3. Choice about successive treating: The old data are large, so the digital work can’t be finished in a short time, arranging is inevitable. Library of Congress makes the most interested in information on the general public as a first priority, followed by the Library’s special collections.
4. Selection of Digital Technology: There are so many digital ways, OCR: Optical Character Recognition, in accordance with original appearance re-type or image scanning etc. methods. Before conversion we must study: which is appropriate?
5. Reference about documents standards: Character set, Document Logo, pixel density etc.
6. Make Bibliographic Data contained in each file: Making digital data should consider the future use problem. Accessing to digital information is with file as unit. So, when making it, we should notate recognizable bibliographic data to facilitate the cited put down in writing.
7. Who will produce: Government agencies of private organizations.
In addition, the following problems are often referred to when using Digital Library:
1. Intellectual property rights: Base on the characteristics that digital information is easy copy and spread, if intellectual property rights can’t be effectively controlled and fully protected, there will be bound to hurt the publishers’ digital publishing will and indirectly influence the quality of information. Digital information is the prime mover of Digital Library survival, if lack of high-quality information, the Digital Library’s benefits will greatly reduced.
2. Rich and poor of information are incommensurable: Digital information is Digital Library’s main collections, one of its characteristics is invisible, can’t be seen and touched and interspersed in various places. The people who know how to apply the Digital Library will always enjoy the new and fast abundant resources all over the world. For this people, information is coming in torrents and inexhaustible; contrarily, the people who don’t know how to apply the Digital Library will become more isolated and scarcity under the invisible characteristic of digital information. Incommensurable gap of rich and poor information hence happens. How to avoid is a problem not be ignored during Digital Library’s development.
3. Expression freedom and privacy right: Expression freedom and privacy right are human rights attached importance to by democratic countries. In the digital information world, these problems still exist. These problems are also needed to pay attention to, for example how to resist censorship, how to respect expression freedom and privacy right.
4. Information security: All these belong to the scope of information security, for example avoiding digital information being improperly used, stopped and obtained, altered or deliberately spreading false information etc. behaviors. For teaching proper use concept of digital information and preventing misconduct, Information Management of Berkeley School of California University offers “Ethics of the Internet" course. It can clearly be seen that establish a new ethics of applying digital information and construct Digital Libraries should also keep abreast and shouldn’t be delayed.
Compared to traditional library’s operation processes e.g. collection, compilation, storage and circulation services, Digital Library’s operation way must consider problems produced by these processes and solve them to provide more convenient information access service to users. Due to the characteristics of digital data different from paper data, and the operation mode of digital data extremely has flexibility, so if use traditional operation processes to reckon future Digital Library’s operation mode, this will not make Digital Library’s services achieve to maximum effectiveness. The mainstream of future book information is digital type, and the use of this type data has become a definite trend. However, successful change will depend on the users’ support and recognition. So, developing tomorrow’s libraries into Digital Libraries should sparkplug in due course and make users gradually accommodate.
The traditional library’s business will face unprecedented significant challenges with the development of modern information technology.
The traditional library’s operation mode that with books data as the main collections has gradually unable to adapt to the requirements of digital age. Only through constantly adjusting the structure and service mode and quickly transforming towards Digital Library, the traditional library can conform the times development trend. Although, at present the cognition for Digital Library is still not entirely consistent, but the library developing towards digital is the fact difficult to avoid. So, library’s digital will become the mainstream of library career development in this century.