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Summer School


Digital Libraries for the Digital Librarian
Making the Journey
from Traditional to Digital Libraries

28 May - 2 June 2007
Settignano, Florence (Italy)

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Digital libraries are organisations that provide the resources, including the specialized staff, to select, structure, offer intellectual access to, interpret, distribute, preserve the integrity of, and ensure the persistence over time of collections of digital works (Digital Library Federation 2003). A slightly different, but basically equivalent, definition is from the DELOS Network of Excellence: a Digital Library is a (potentially virtual) organization that comprehensively collects, manages, and preserves for the long term rich digital content and offers to its user communities specialized functionality on that content, of measurable quality, and according to prescribed policies.

In essence, it appears that a Digital Library has on one side “the content”, on the other side “the users” and in between the hardware, the software and the people, who are responsible to support and manage both sides. Digital Libraries therefore represent the meeting point of a large number of technical areas within the field of informatics (e.g. data management, information retrieval, the web, image processing, artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, etc.) and several other disciplines and fields beyond informatics, such as library sciences, museum sciences, archives, sociology, psychology, knowledge management etc.

Despite the relatively young age of Digital Libraries (they first appeared as a concept in the early 1990s and grew up to become a discipline in its own right in the subsequent years) the last years have seen an increasing introduction of digital resources in libraries, museums and archives. In a relatively short period of time, digital libraries have become a global phenomenon, with considerable funds spent in research, and even more funds spent on practical applications, in building a variety of digital library collections, components and services. A vision that has been repeatedly presented, advocates that DL “should enable any citizen to access all human knowledge anytime and anywhere, in a friendly, multi-modal, efficient, and effective way, by overcoming barriers of distance, language, and culture, and by using multiple Internet-connected devices”.

DELOS is a Network of Excellence on Digital Libraries partially funded by the European Commission in the frame of the Information Society Technologies Programme. It is conducting a joint program of activities aimed at integrating and coordinating the ongoing research efforts of the major European teams working in Digital Library-related areas. Its main objective and goal is to develop the next generation of Digital Library technologies, by defining unifying and comprehensive theories and frameworks for the life-cycle of Digital Library information, and by building prototypes of interoperable multimodal/multilingual and integrated content management services.

The US National Science Digital Library (NSDL) was established in 2000 by the National Science Foundation as an online library, which directs users to exemplary resources for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and research. NSDL provides an organized point of access to STEM content that is aggregated from a variety of other digital libraries, NSF-funded projects, and NSDL-reviewed web sites. NSDL also provides access to services and tools that enhance the use of this content in a variety of contexts. NSDL is designed primarily for educators (from kindergarten to college), but anyone can access NSDL.org and search the library at no cost. Access to most of the resources discovered through NSDL is free.

DELOS and NSDL have joined forces in organizing a Summer School that intends to address some of the common concerns of cultural heritage institutions (such as libraries, archival institutions and museums) as they work together (or should work in the future) with information providers, publishers, publications suppliers to tackle the challenges and opportunities of the digital environment for the knowledge society. The digital medium is radically new for libraries, archives, museums and other information providers and they should undertake a thorough examination of roles and practices in order to address the challenges that this implies. Although there is a continuity of purpose and value of the traditional organisation within these cultural heritage and information institutions, there exists alongside the need of a fundamental re-examination of roles and practices. The main aim of the School is to provide information professionals who intend to take leadership and responsibilities in the complex world of digital libraries with the knowledge of the technologies and the organizational issues involved in the transition from a traditional organization to a Digital Library, illustrating criteria and methods that exploit the strengths of digital libraries in a socio-economic and interdisciplinary manner.

School Program

The transformation from traditional libraries to digital libraries is a journey. As with any journey worth taking, one must consider the starting point, the tools and services one might need along the way and an expectation of what one might have accomplished at points along the way. The school will try to condense this journey in one week, exploring the technologies, management issues, and user/usage implications inherent in this transformation from traditional to digital libraries.

The school will start from the solid foundation of traditional libraries and learn how current and emerging digital library science is changing the way information is acquired, described, archived, accessed, contextualized, annotated, disseminated, and kept effective through evaluation. Three perspectives will accompany us as we travel: the library user, the technology, tools and services to support the use of digital libraries, and the treatment of old and new issues of management and policymaking that are emerging in the digital library world.

At the end of the school the attendees are expected to have acquired an understanding of the impact of digital environment on the role of the information professional in the knowledge society. They should have acquired a coherent understanding of the issues related to the deployment and management of digital resources in the ALM domain (Archives, Libraries and Museums), and a good understanding of the technologies underlying them. A special project of Digital Library will be realized by work groups of the participants, applying theories and skills learned during the School.

This one-week intensive school will consist of ten half-day sessions that will include lectures, seminars, practical demonstrations, group work and “field trips” to cultural institutions. The morning sessions will usually begin at 9:00 and end at 13:00, with a coffee break during the morning. The afternoon sessions will usually begin at 14:30 and end at 18:00, with a coffee break during the afternoon. Distinguished lecturers from Europe and the United States will be addressing the following topics.

  • Introduction to Digital Libraries
  • Digitizing Information
  • Digital Collections
  • Describing Information
  • Organizing the Digital Library
  • Distributed Services and Identity Management
  • Accessing the Repository
  • Re-thinking the Role of Repositories
  • Making the Library work for the User
  • Scholarly Communication in the 21st Century
  • Final Session: the (near) Future
  • Field Trips

Pre requisites

Participants are expected to have had some previous exposure to the issues related to digital material to making it available on line. A basic understanding of the Information Technology issues underlying digital Libraries would also be useful, but no deep technical knowledge of those issues will be required.

Some of the sessions will include the use of PC for demos or practical exercises. Participants are invited to bring, if possible, their own PC, as the school cannot guarantee the availability of a PC for each school participant.

School Chairs

Mary Marlino - Digital Learning Sciences, USA
Kaye Howe - NSDL, USA
Anna Maria Tammaro - University of Parma, Italy and DILL International Master
Vittore Casarosa - ISTI-CNR, Italy

School Secretariat

Francesca Borri
Via Moruzzi, 1
56124 Pisa, Italy
Tel: +39 050 315 3470
Fax: +39 050 315 3464

Download complete Call for Participation in PDF

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