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  • Digital library

    A digital library, digital repository, or digital collection, is an online database of digital objects that can include text, still images, audio, video, or other digital media formats. Objects can consist of digitized content like print or photographs, as well as originally produced digital content like word processor files or social media posts. In addition to storing content, digital libraries provide means for organizing, searching, and retrieving the content contained in the collection.

    Digital libraries can vary immensely in size and scope, and can be maintained by individuals or organizations. The digital content may be stored locally, or accessed remotely via computer networks. These information retrieval systems are able to exchange information with each other through interoperability and sustainability.

    Vannevar Bush and J.C.R. Licklider are two contributors that advanced this idea into then current technology. Bush had supported research that led to the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. After seeing the disaster, he wanted to create a machine that would show how technology can lead to understanding instead of destruction. This machine would include a desk with two screens, switches and buttons, and a keyboard. He named this the "Memex." This way individuals would be able to access stored books and files at a rapid speed. In 1956, Ford Foundation funded Licklider to analyze how libraries could be improved with technology. Almost a decade later, his book entitled "Libraries of the Future" included his vision. He wanted to create a system that would use computers and networks so human knowledge would be accessible for human needs and feedback would be automatic for machine purposes. This system contained three components, the corpus of knowledge, the question, and the answer. Licklider called it a procognitive system.

    The term virtual library was initially used interchangeably with digital library, but is now primarily used for libraries that are virtual in other senses (such as libraries which aggregate distributed content). In the early days of digital libraries, there was discussion of the similarities and differences among the terms digital, virtual, and electronic.

    Many academic libraries are actively involved in building institutional repositories of the institution's books, papers, theses, and other works which can be digitized or were 'born digital'. Many of these repositories are made available to the general public with few restrictions, in accordance with the goals of open access, in contrast to the publication of research in commercial journals, where the publishers often limit access rights. Institutional, truly free, and corporate repositories are sometimes referred to as digital libraries. Institutional repository software is designed for archiving, organizing, and searching a library's content. Popular open-source solutions include DSpace, EPrints, Digital Commons, and Fedora Commons-based systems Islandora and Samvera.

    A fundamental characteristic of archives is that they have to keep the context in which their records have been created and the network of relationships between them in order to preserve their informative content and provide understandable and useful information over time. The fundamental characteristic of archives resides in their hierarchical organization expressing the context by means of the archival bond. Archival descriptions are the fundamental means to describe, understand, retrieve and access archival material. At the digital level, archival descriptions are usually encoded by means of the Encoded Archival Description XML format. The EAD is a standardized electronic representation of archival description which makes it possible to provide union access to detailed archival descriptions and resources in repositories distributed throughout the world.

    The design and implementation in digital libraries are constructed so computer systems and software can make use of the information when it is exchanged. These are referred to as semantic digital libraries. Semantic libraries are also used to socialize with different communities from a mass of social networks. DjDL is a type of semantic digital library. Keywords-based and semantic search are the two main types of searches. A tool is provided in the semantic search that create a group for augmentation and refinement for keywords-based search. Conceptual knowledge used in DjDL is centered around two forms; the subject ontology and the set of concept search patterns based on the ontology. The three type of ontologies that are associated to this search are bibliographic ontologies, community-aware ontologies, and subject ontologies.

    Most digital libraries provide a search interface which allows resources to be found. These resources are typically deep web (or invisible web) resources since they frequently cannot be located by search engine crawlers. Some digital libraries create special pages or sitemaps to allow search engines to find all their resources. Digital libraries frequently use the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) to expose their metadata to other digital libraries, and search engines like Google Scholar, Yahoo! and Scirus can also use OAI-PMH to find these deep web resources.

    Digital libraries are hampered by copyright law because, unlike with traditional printed works, the laws of digital copyright are still being formed. The republication of material on the web by libraries may require permission from rights holders, and there is a conflict of interest between libraries and the publishers who may wish to create online versions of their acquired content for commercial purposes. In 2010, it was estimated that twenty-three percent of books in existence were created before 1923 and thus out of copyright. Of those printed after this date, only five percent were still in print as of 2010. Thus, approximately seventy-two percent of books were not available to the public.

    The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 was an act created in the United States to attempt to deal with the introduction of digital works. This Act incorporates two treaties from the year 1996. It criminalizes the attempt to circumvent measures which limit access to copyrighted materials. It also criminalizes the act of attempting to circumvent access control. This act provides an exemption for nonprofit libraries and archives which allows up to three copies to be made, one of which may be digital. This may not be made public or distributed on the web, however. Further, it allows libraries and archives to copy a work if its format becomes obsolete.

    Many digital libraries offer recommender systems to reduce information overload and help their users discovering relevant literature. Some examples of digital libraries offering recommender systems are IEEE Xplore, Europeana, and GESIS Sowiport. The recommender systems work mostly based on content-based filtering but also other approaches are used such as collaborative filtering and citation-based recommendations. Beel et al. report that there are more than 90 different recommendation approaches for digital libraries, presented in more than 200 research articles.