Affordable Access

Publisher Website

Digital library development: identifying sources of content for developing countries with special reference to India

The International Information & Library Review
Informa UK (Taylor & Francis)
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.iilr.2003.10.005
  • India
  • Digital Libraries
  • Communication
  • Economics
  • Political Science
  • Social Sciences


Abstract Digital libraries aim at unhindered access to content over computer and communication networks, and digitization may be taken as a visible proposition to enhance the shelf life of non-digital content by preservation apart from the virtue of increased and easy access, thereby furthering usage. As a fresh, lively and dynamic area with a lot of enthusiasm and activity by researchers from different disciplines, institutions and countries, digital libraries are viewed in different perspectives and the single most development that has brought about sweeping changes in the library and information discipline currently in the developed world is that of digital libraries. Advancements in computer and information technology with breakthroughs in memory technology has not only reduced the cost of infrastructure required for hosting digital libraries, but the demonstrated success of a wide variety of projects in USA and Europe also endorsed the chances of their survival even in a developing country. Though the professionals and libraries in developing countries are also experiencing the virtues of Internet, and electronic information highways, many of these libraries have not gone much farther than the computerization of in-house operations, availing databases in electronic media such as CD-ROMs, and web access of subscribed journals and various free resources. Digital library development should be taken up as an additional task to populate the web sites with valuable in-house content like the research reports, publications of in-house researchers, and so on. Digital library projects and developments in the country are so many, though a large number of them are only at an aggressively enthusiastic preliminary stage. In a country such as India so rich in content of indigenous research and development in disciplines varied from science and technology to social science, humanities and spirituality, there is tremendous need for hosting full fledged digital libraries by appropriately tagging the content with affordable information technology. However, what is lacking, especially in developing countries, is a coordinated collaborative approach to bring in institutions and identifying content valuable for digitization with sufficient monetary and infrastructure support. The digital library development in the country needs a two-pronged strategy (i) to digitize local content, and (ii) to devise options for accessing external resources. Channels for internal content include journals and serials for research, conference proceedings, theses and dissertations and preprints, research and status reports, textbooks and learning materials, government publications, spiritual/heritage sources, tourism information, traditional knowledge, etc. As far as external resources are concerned, there are electronic options from publishers and information provides such as, online access through Web of subscribed journals, CDs and floppies containing supplementary material of printed books, bibliographic/full-text databases, which can be hosted on library servers or intranet along with local content. The problems for digital library development are manifold in India such as lack of interest, non-availability of computer and IT infrastructure for library activities, copyright problems, ensuring secure access, properly selecting content from the mass available, internet bandwidth, absence of sufficient financial support, over concentration of professional time on administrative routines, acute shortage over concentration of professional time on administrative routines, acute shortage of competent manpower, etc. The software boom engulfing the country, as a result of the big leap in computer penetration, sudden rise in proficient manpower, and sizable improvement in communication infrastructure should also be treated as an asset and taken advantage of by authorities and information professionals to create and maintain digital information facilities to usher in the new information age.

There are no comments yet on this publication. Be the first to share your thoughts.