Digital library

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A digital library is a collection of electronic media that can be used over a computer network (mostly the Internet today ). For example, digital libraries offer e-books , digitized books , electronic magazines , audio files and films.

Digital library operators can be traditional libraries , but also groups of volunteers, associations and private companies . Access to the media offered can be associated with costs or free of charge. The books can either be readable in full or only to a limited extent. Some digital libraries offer downloads of their media, while others can only use the media online.

The oldest digital library is the American, volunteers created Project Gutenberg is the largest by the company Google Inc. operated library Google Books . A huge charitable project is the Internet Archive , which made 10 petabytes freely available in 2012 .

In contrast to digital libraries, virtual libraries do not have media themselves, but only convey the offers of electronic media providers.


The DELOS Digital Library Reference Model defines a digital library as an organized, permanent collection of digital content that provides its users with special services for this content according to defined rules and in a defined quality:

"An organization, which might be virtual, 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 codified policies."

Similar to digital archives and digital museums , digital libraries deal with the preservation of cultural heritage in digital form. The three areas also show overlaps in their definitions and cannot be clearly delimited from one another. UNESCO is currently dealing with problems relating to the preservation of cultural heritage.

Organizational forms of digital libraries

Digital library

A digital library in the narrower sense is an information system that systematically records the services and contents of a real library in digital form and that is accessible via the web or via local data carriers. Only when the data, i. H. Digital copies (image data) or full texts (text data), and the metadata (information about the object, such as author, signature, time of creation, keywords, etc.) for objects in a library can be called up in digital form, one can speak of a digital library in the narrower sense . The services of a traditional library (lending, interlibrary loan, administration of user accounts, etc.) are usually handled electronically in a digital library.

Hybrid library

The term was coined in 1998 by Chris Rusbridge and describes a library "in which electronic objects and services are mixed with traditional sources and services ..." The hybridity of a library describes the way in which the digitization of a traditional library progresses. Can you z. For example, metadata can be called up via an online library catalog, but no digital copies, so in order to be able to examine the object, one still has to visit the library, which is called a hybrid library. Digital and hybrid libraries are directly related to a traditional library, the difference being in the progress of the digitization of the objects and the service sector.

Virtual library

In contrast to a digital library and a hybrid library, a virtual library is a digital information system that, independently of a real library, combines information from several libraries (data and metadata) in a new context and thus puts it in a new context. Virtual libraries therefore do not have their own media collections; instead, users are given access to information collections from other libraries. These accesses primarily include online access for research and digital information offers, but also, if required, printed materials that are made available via classic interlibrary loan or via document delivery services.


In this context, recent developments can be mentioned, such as B. E-books and publications that originally appeared in digital form. These forms are usually embedded in existing digital, hybrid or virtual libraries, usually at a cost, or form the corpus of a separate, virtual library that does not represent a real library.

In addition to the above forms, there are also electronic library catalogs , library associations and library portal on the Web. The area of ​​responsibility of an electronic library catalog lies purely in the systematic recording of the holdings of a real library in metadata. Such a library can often be part of digital and hybrid libraries. In a library network, the holdings of several libraries are combined in one place. Meaning and purpose of organizational forms Library network and portal is the complete combination of the objects of several libraries in one place on the web in order to simplify the search for objects for the user.

Opportunities of digital libraries

Full text search

Many trade journals offer abstracts or complete journal articles free of charge or on the basis of micropayment . A large number of articles can be accessed via the portals of the university libraries (for the respective customers). In the meantime it is also common for dissertations to be submitted in electronic form so that they can also be made available on the Internet. Among other things, the Gutenberg project makes digitized literature available online that has become public domain.

Information gathering

Digital libraries offer categorized collections of information on specialist topics. This information can be electronic texts , web links , electronic reference works, or electronic journal libraries.

Research and ordering

There are literature databases for literature information, the data of which can be queried via retrieval systems.

With regard to monographs , the Karlsruhe Virtual Catalog is currently the most important option for global research using a meta search engine. Important databases for journal articles in Germany are JADE and MEDLINE . The ordering options for digitized articles via JASON and SUBITO are linked to JADE ; direct orders are possible with MEDLINE. The articles are sent here as scans by email.

Development of the digital library

The three major pioneers in the direction of a digital library are:

Vannevar Bush

After the Second World War , Vannevar Bush tried to help spread knowledge. With the help of a Memex machine that worked on the basis of microfilm technology, he wanted to bring the 10,000 pages of the Enzyclopedia Britannica to the size of a DIN A4 sheet.

JCR Licklider

JCR Licklider was working on a United States Department of Defense research program that invented the arpanet , the forerunner of the Internet. He had the idea of ​​creating the heart of a library with a large central computer. According to him, several computers should be linked together to form an information service.

Ted Nelson

Ted Nelson came up with the idea of ​​a single global network-based library. Everyone should have access to all documents. Nelson coined the terms "hypertext" and "hypermedia".


A large number of standards play a role in the digitization of library holdings. For cataloging and IT administration, the libraries run a so-called online public access catalog , or OPAC for short. The valid cataloging rules are described in more detail in the Resource Description and Access (RDA) standard , which is also used by libraries in German-speaking countries. The introduction of RDA in the German-speaking area was developed by a working group with the participation of the German-speaking national libraries and various library associations between 2012 and 2016. RDA replaced the previously applicable rules for alphabetical cataloging (RAK).

Was also replaced the previously common in German-speaking Machine Exchange Format for Libraries (MAB), new standard of coming here Machine-Readable Cataloging (MARC) is used, since 2013, used DNB not the old format more. Alternative formats for exchanging bibliographic data are the Dublin Core (DC) and the somewhat simpler Metadata Object Description Scheme (MODS) developed by the Library of Congress as a middle ground between DC and MARC . Another standard in this area is the Metadata Encoding & Transmission Standard (METS), which was developed on the initiative of the Digital Library Federation and is now also supported by the MARC Standards Office of the Library of Congress.

The Encoded Archival Description of the Library of Congress and its extension Encoded Archival Context , which was developed by the Library of Congress together with the Berlin State Library, are used in archives to create finding aids .

Quality improvement efforts

  • The International Conference on Theory and Practice of Digital Libraries (formerly European Conference on Research and Advanced Technologies for Digital Libraries ) takes place annually.
  • In Asia there is the International Conference on Asian Digital Libraries (ICADL).
  • The Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL) is held annually in the United States and is supported by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
  • The Network of Excellence on Digital Libraries (DELOS) is funded by the EU.

Legal Aspects

At the center of the legal aspects of a digital library are: a. the Copyright Act and the Library Act.

Copyright Act

Library Act

Library Act in Austria

As of December 2010, there is no library law in Austria. On June 5, 2007, Dr. Wolfgang Zinggl put a motion for a resolution to the National Council that a library law should be passed for Austria. The outcome of these proceedings is still open.

Library Act in Switzerland

There is no uniform library law in Switzerland. However, there is a national library law, which does not contain any specific regulations on digitization. Otherwise, individual cantons still have legal regulations.

European Union

In January 2000, the Council of Europe, together with EBLIDA, published the “Guidelines for Library Legislation and Policy in Europe”. These guidelines call on the member states of the Council of Europe "to work out appropriate library laws in their respective countries that conform to the principles of the guidelines, or to review existing laws against the guidelines."

See also


  • Heidrun Wiesenmüller: The concept of the “virtual library” in the German library system of the 1990s. Greven, Cologne 2000, ISBN 3-7743-0580-3 .
  • Heinrich Parhey, Walther Umstätter (Ed.): Scientific journal and digital library (= science research. Yearbook 2002). Society for Science Research, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-934682-36-7 .
  • Candela et al. a .: Setting the Foundations of Digital Libraries. The DELOS Manifesto . In: D-Lib Magazine . tape 13 , 3/4, March / April, 2007, ISSN  1082-9873 ( ).
  • A Quinn et al. a .: Readability of Scanned Books in Digital Libraries . In: Proceeding of the Twenty-Sixth Annual SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Florence, Italy, April 05-10, 2008) . ( ).
  • Library Act in Austria. 2007 ( ).
  • Wolfgang Binder: The virtual library is internet reality. New roles for real libraries. In: News for Documentation. 47.4, 1996.
  • Marion Borowski: Inventory of the digitization of cultural assets and fields of action: prepared on behalf of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media (BKM) with the financial participation of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research / IAIS, Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems. Sankt Augustin 2007.
  • Albert Endres, Dieter W. Fellner: Digital libraries. IT solutions for global knowledge markets. Heidelberg 2000.
  • Robert Luckmann: Digital Libraries. Materials for training. Issue 19. Salzburg 2000.
  • Margarete Rehm: Lexicon. Book. Library. New media. Munich / London / New York / Paris 1991.
  • Diann Rusch-Feja: Electronic, digital and hybrid libraries. Entry into the information systems of the future. In: medicine – library information. Volume 2, No. 2, 2002.
  • Daniella Sarnowski: Development of a virtual specialist library portal on the Internet for film, television and media studies (Virtual Library Film and Media Studies) with the help of the survey and needs analysis of specific information requirements. undressed Dissertation. Berlin 2002. ( PDF; 1.7 MB).
  • Barbara Schleihagen: Library Laws in Europe. Means of political control and shaping. In: Library Perspectives. 2, 2009.
  • Bernd Vogel, Silke Cordes: Libraries at universities and technical colleges. Hanover 2005.

Individual evidence

  1. L. Candela et al. a .: The DELOS Digital Library Reference Model - Foundations for Digital Libraries ( Memento of March 4, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) . Version 0.98, February 2008 (PDF; 17.6 MB)
  2. Rusch-Feja, 2002, p. 21.
  3. Vogel, 2005, p. 25.
  4. See Endre, 2000, p. 75.
  5. See Endre, 2000, p. 76.
  6. Questions and answers on the Resource Description and Access (RDA) standard. German National Library , accessed on May 14, 2018 .
  7. 9th meeting of the standardization committee on December 15, 2004. Die Deutsche Bibliothek, Arbeitsstelle für Standardisierung, December 15, 2004, p. 7 , accessed on May 14, 2018 (decision to switch).
  8. MAB. German National Library , accessed on May 14, 2018 .
  9. Metadata Encoding & Transmission Standard. Library of Congress , accessed May 14, 2018 .
  10. ^ Bibliographic metadata. Standards upon standards., accessed on May 14, 2018 .
  11. TPDL ( Memento from September 2, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  12. ECDL ( Memento of April 9, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  13. ICADL ( Memento from May 29, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  14. IEEE
  15. DELOS ( Memento from September 20, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  16. ^ Austrian Library Law, 2007, motion for a resolution
  17. SR 432.21 Federal Act on the Swiss National Library. In: Systematic Collection of Federal Law (SR). Federal authorities of the Swiss Confederation, December 18, 1992, accessed on September 7, 2011 (entry into force: June 1, 1993).
  18. Schleihagen, 2009, pp. 15-16.