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Book ChapterDOI

Digital libraries: developing countries, universal access, and information for all

13 Dec 2004-Vol. 3334, pp 35-44

TL;DR: It is illustrated how currently available technology empowers users to build and publish information collections, and making digital libraries open to all, as conventional public libraries are, presents interesting challenges of universal access.

AbstractDigital libraries are large, organized collections of information objects Well-designed digital library software has the potential to enable non-specialist people to conceive, assemble, build, and disseminate new information collections This has great social import because, by democratizing information dissemination, it provides a counterbalance to disturbing commercialization initiatives in the information and entertainment industries This talk reviews trends in today's information environment, introduces digital library technology, and explores applications of digital libraries—including their use for disseminating humanitarian information in developing countries We illustrate how currently available technology empowers users to build and publish information collections Making digital libraries open to all, as conventional public libraries are, presents interesting challenges of universal access

Topics: Information access (62%), Digital library (61%), Entertainment industry (54%), Information Dissemination (52%), Universal design (51%)

Summary (3 min read)

1 Introduction

  • Digital libraries are large, organized collections of information objects.
  • Perhaps the most striking feature of the digital library field, at least from an academic point of view, is the inherent tension between two extremes: the very fast pace of technological change and the very long-term view that libraries must take.
  • It sometimes happens that technological advances in developing countries leapfrog those in developed ones.
  • This occurs because established infrastructure, a strong and necessarily conservative force, is absent.
  • More intellectually demanding tasks such as metadata assignment and collection building will not be far behind.

2.1 Books

  • To counter the perceived threat, the entertainment industry is promoting “digital rights management” (DRM) schemes that permit a degree of control over what users can do that goes far beyond the traditional legal bounds of copyright.
  • Fortunately, perhaps, standardization and compatibility issues are delaying consumer adoption of e-books.
  • One can envisage a scenario where publishers establish a system of commercial, payper-view, libraries for e-books and refuse public libraries access to books in a form that can be circulated.
  • These new directions present their society with puzzling challenges, and it would be rash to predict what society’s response will be.

2.2 Public information

  • In parallel with publishers’ moves to reposition books as technological artifacts with refined and flexible control over how they can be used, an opposing trend has emerged: the ready availability of free information on the Internet.
  • Of course, the world-wide web is an unreliable source of enlightenment, and undiscriminating use is dangerous—and widespread.
  • But search engines and other portals have enormously increased their ability to locate information that is at least ostensibly relevant to any given question.
  • Many social groups, non-profit societies and charities make it their business to create sites and collect and organize information there.
  • The International Telecommunications Union’s World Summit on the Information Society (Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005) is promoting a global discussion of the fundamental changes that are being brought about by the transformation from an industrial to an information society, and confront the disparities of access to information between the industrialized countries and the developing world.

2.3 Libraries and their role

  • Librarians strive to enable the free flow of information.
  • Librarians, the traditional gatekeepers of knowledge, are in danger of being bypassed, their skills ignored, their advice unsought.
  • Infomine contains descriptions and links to a wealth of scholarly and educational Internet resources, each of which has been selected and described by a professional academic librarian who is a specialist in the subject and in resource description generally.
  • Meanwhile, however, the situation in the developing world is dire.
  • According to the 1999 UN Human Development Report [7], whereas a US medical library subscribes to about 5,000 journals, the Nairobi University Medical School Library, long regarded as a flagship center in East Africa, last year received just 20 journals (compared with 300 a decade before).

2.4 Open-source software

  • Open source software is a powerful ally for librarians who wish to extend liberal traditions of information access.
  • Open source projects make source code freely available for others to view, modify, and adapt; and the very nature of the licensing agreement prevents the software from being appropriated by proprietary vendors.
  • But the open-source movement is more than just a vehicle for librarians to use: its link with library traditions goes much deeper.
  • Public libraries and open source software both enshrine the same philosophy: to promote learning and understanding through the dissemination of knowledge.
  • Both enjoy a sense of community, on the one hand the kind of inter-institutional cooperation exemplified by inter-library loan and on the other teams of designers and programmers that frequently cross national boundaries.

3 Disseminating humanitarian information with DLs

  • Digital libraries provide perhaps the first really compelling raison d’être for computing technology in the developing world.
  • Priorities in these countries include health, agriculture, nutrition, hygiene, sanitation, and safe drinking water.
  • Rather than recapitulating parts of the above-cited paper, the authors describe four new ones (Fig. 1).
  • It includes titles that all these organizations have published on the subjects of energy for sustainable development— technical guidelines, journals and newsletters, case studies, manuals, reports, and other training material.
  • The Health Library for Disasters, a collaboration between the emergency and disaster programs of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), with the participation of many other organizations, contains over 300 technical and scientific documents on disaster reduction and public health issues related to emergencies and humanitarian assistance.

4 Universal access

  • Universal access to digital libraries presents huge challenges to software engineers.
  • The Greenstone digital library software [9] allows us to glimpse some of the issues.
  • The authors summarize some technical details in the next subsection, before turning to more interesting questions of access for readers, collection builders, and international users.

4.1 Platforms and distribution

  • Most digital libraries are accessed over the web.
  • In many environments in developing countries, web access is insufficient and the system must run locally.
  • And if people are to build and control their own libraries, a centralized solution is inadequate: the software must run on their own computers.
  • All versions of Windows are supported, from 3.1 up.
  • In an international cooperative effort established in August 2000 with UNESCO and the Belgium-based Human Info NGO, Greenstone is being distributed widely in developing countries with the aim of empowering users, particularly in universities, libraries, and other public service institutions, to build their own digital libraries.

4.2 Access for readers

  • Any Greenstone collection can be converted into a self-contained Windows CD-ROM that includes the Greenstone server software itself (in a version that runs right down to Windows 3.1) and an integrated installation package.
  • The installation procedure has been thoroughly honed to ensure that only the most basic of computer skills are needed to install and run a collection under Windows.
  • Collections in Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, English, French, Spanish, German, Hindi, and Maori are publicly available (see nzdl.org).
  • The Greenstone web site (greenstone.org) links to sites that contain further examples.
  • The entire Greenstone interface has been translated into a range of languages, and the interface language can be changed by the user as they browse from the Preferences page.

4.3 Access for librarians: building new collections

  • Effective human development blossoms from empowerment rather than gifting.
  • As the Chinese proverb says, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach him to fish and he will eat for the rest of his days.”.
  • This will allow developing countries to participate actively in their information society, rather than observing it from outside.
  • Then a series of panels guides the user through the processes required to build the collection.
  • Fig. 2d shows a page from the newly built collection, in which source documents are listed by artist.

5 Conclusions

  • By allowing people to easily create and disseminate large information collections, digital libraries extend the applications of modern technology in socially responsible directions, and counter a possible threat towards the commercialization of information in line with practices developed by the entertainment industry.
  • But the Internet does not really extend to developing countries, and the developing world is missing out on the prodigious amount of basic, everyday human information that the Web provides, and its enormous influence on promoting and internationalizing business opportunities.
  • Universal access means that interfaces should be available in the world’s languages, but one does not want the burden of translation to stifle the development of new functionality and features.
  • Opening digital libraries to the illiterate is a radical and potentially revolutionary benefit of new interface technology.

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Digital libraries: Developing countries,
universal access, and information for all
Ian H. Witten
Department of Computer Science
University of Waikato, New Zealand
ihw@cs.waikato.ac.nz
Abstract. Digital libraries are large, organized collections of information ob-
jects. Well-designed digital library software has the potential to enable non-
specialist people to conceive, assemble, build, and disseminate new information
collections. This has great social import because, by democratizing information
dissemination, it provides a counterbalance to disturbing commercialization ini-
tiatives in the information and entertainment industries. This talk reviews trends
in today’s information environment, introduces digital library technology, and
explores applications of digital libraries—including their use for disseminating
humanitarian information in developing countries. We illustrate how currently
available technology empowers users to build and publish information collec-
tions. Making digital libraries open to all, as conventional public libraries are,
presents interesting challenges of universal access.
1 Introduction
Digital libraries are large, organized collections of information objects. Whereas stan-
dard library automation systems provide a computerized version of the catalog—a
gateway into the treasure-house of information stored in the library—digital libraries
incorporate the treasure itself, namely the information objects that constitute the li-
brary’s collection. Whereas standard libraries are, of necessity, ponderous and sub-
stantial institutions, with large buildings and significant funding requirements, even
large digital libraries can be lightweight. Whereas standard libraries, whose mandate
includes preservation as well as access, are “conservative” by definition, with institu-
tional infrastructure to match, digital libraries are nimble: they emphasize access and
evolve rapidly.
What will the future hold for digital libraries? The dizzying rate of change in the
core technologies clouds even the brightest crystal ball. Perhaps the most striking
feature of the digital library field, at least from an academic point of view, is the in-
herent tension between two extremes: the very fast pace of technological change and
the very long-term view that libraries must take. We must reconcile our aspiration to
surf the leading edge of technology with the literally static ideal of archiving material
“for ever and a day.” Any future we create must run on everyone’s computer today
for libraries are universally accessible, and should remain so—and it must also pre-
serve the treasures of the past, including past digital libraries.

This paper is particularly concerned with the future for developing countries.
It
sometimes happens that technological advances in developing countries leapfrog
those in developed ones. This occurs because established infrastructure, a strong and
necessarily conservative force, is absent. Alternative sources such as solar energy are
widely used in place of traditional power generation and distribution, while many
developing countries have experienced far higher levels of mobile phone growth than
developed ones. Digital libraries provide another example, compensating for the fail-
ure of traditional distribution mechanisms to address local requirements and deliver
information where it is needed. Indeed, developing countries already have a competi-
tive edge, for the labor-intensive process of optical character recognition (OCR) is
often outsourced from the Western world to countries such as India, the Philippines,
and Romania. More intellectually demanding tasks such as metadata assignment and
collection building will not be far behind.
In the next section we examine the social need for digital libraries by briefly
sketching some trends in commercial publishing and contrasting them with a growing
international perspective of information as a public good. Then we review a project
that is applying digital library technology to the distribution of humanitarian informa-
tion in the developing world, a context that is both innovative and socially motivated.
Next we discuss issues of universal access and illustrate them with reference to the
Greenstone digital library software [9]. We include a brief demonstration of a system
that is intended to allow anyone to build and disseminate information collections, and
illustrates some human interface challenges that arise when providing necessarily
complex functionality to a non-computer-oriented user base. We close with the hope
that future digital libraries will find a new role to play in helping to reduce the social
inequity that haunts today’s world, both within our own countries and between na-
tions.
2 Books, libraries, and the socially disadvantaged
Today, the long-standing three-way tension between the commercial interests of pub-
lishers, the needs of society and information users, and the social mandate of public
libraries, is being pulled and stretched as never before.
2.1 Books
What future has the book in the digital world? The question is a complex one that is
being widely aired (see [3] for a particularly thoughtful and comprehensive discus-
sion). Authors and publishers ask how many copies of a work will be sold if net-
worked digital libraries enable worldwide access to an electronic copy of it. To
counter the perceived threat, the entertainment industry is promoting “digital rights
management” (DRM) schemes that permit a degree of control over what users can do
that goes far beyond the traditional legal bounds of copyright. Indeed, they seem to be
concerned solely with content owners rights and not at all with user’s rights. Anti-

circumvention rules are sanctioned by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
(DMCA) in the US (similar legislation is being enacted elsewhere).
Can DRM be applied to books? The motion picture industry can compel manufac-
turers to incorporate encryption into their products because it holds key patents on
DVD players. Commercial book publishers are promoting e-book readers that, if
widely adopted, would allow the same kind of control to be exerted over reading
material. Basic rights that we take for granted (and are legally enshrined in the con-
cept of copyright) are in jeopardy. DRM allows them to be controlled, monitored, and
withdrawn instantly, and DMCA legislation makes it illegal for users to seek redress
by taking matters into their own hands. Fortunately, perhaps, standardization and
compatibility issues are delaying consumer adoption of e-books.
In scholarly publishing, digital rights management is more advanced. Academic li-
braries license access to content in electronic form, often in tandem with purchase of
print versions too. They have been able to negotiate reasonable conditions with pub-
lishers. However, the extent of libraries’ power in the consumer book market is moot.
One can envisage a scenario where publishers establish a system of commercial, pay-
per-view, libraries for e-books and refuse public libraries access to books in a form
that can be circulated.
These new directions present our society with puzzling challenges, and it would be
rash to predict what society’s response will be. But one thing is certain: they will
surely increase the degree of disenfranchisement of those who do not have access to
the technology.
2.2 Public information
In parallel with publishers’ moves to reposition books as technological artifacts with
refined and flexible control over how they can be used, an opposing trend has
emerged: the ready availability of free information on the Internet. Of course, the
world-wide web is an unreliable source of enlightenment, and undiscriminating use is
dangerous—and widespread. But search engines and other portals have enormously
increased our ability to locate information that is at least ostensibly relevant to any
given question.
Teachers complain bitterly that students view the Web as a replacement for the li-
brary, harvesting information indiscriminately to provide answers to assignments that
are at best shallow and at worst incoherent and incorrect. Nevertheless, the Web
abounds with accessible, high-quality information. Many social groups, non-profit
societies and charities make it their business to create sites and collect and organize
information there. Widespread use is strongly encouraged, and arrangements could
surely be made for re-distribution of the material, particularly as a not-for-profit serv-
ice, with appropriate acknowledgement.
A key problem with information distribution via the Web is that it disenfranchises
developing countries. Although the Web does not extend into the homes of the so-
cially disadvantaged in developed countries either, programs are working to provide
access. But network access varies enormously across the world, and it is still true that,
as Arunachalam wrote in 1998, the Internet is failing the developing world” [2].
Prompted by this inequity, the importance of public information is today being high-

lighted by prominent international bodies. For example, UNESCO’s “Information for
all” programme was established in 2001 to foster debate on the political, ethical and
societal challenges of the emerging global knowledge society and to carry out projects
promoting equitable access to information. Information literacy is described as “a new
frontier” by the Director of UNESCO’s Information Society Division [6]. The Inter-
national Telecommunications Union’s World Summit on the Information Society
(Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005) is promoting a global discussion of the funda-
mental changes that are being brought about by the transformation from an industrial
to an information society, and confront the disparities of access to information be-
tween the industrialized countries and the developing world.
2.3 Libraries and their role
What is the librarian to make of all this? The mandate of public libraries is to facili-
tate the open distribution of knowledge. Librarians strive to enable the free flow of
information. Their traditions are liberal, founded on the belief that libraries should
serve democracy. A recent promotional video from the American Librarian’s Associa-
tion exults that “the library is democracy’s place of worship” [1].
Clearly, the impending redefinition of the book as a digital artifact that is licensed
rather than sold, tied to a particular replay device, with restrictions that are mechani-
cally enforced, goes right to the heart of libraries. The changing nature of the book
may make it hard, or even impossible, for libraries to fulfill their mandate by provid-
ing quality information to readers. And the emergence of a vast storehouse of infor-
mation on the Internet poses a different kind of conundrum. Librarians, the traditional
gatekeepers of knowledge, are in danger of being bypassed, their skills ignored, their
advice unsought. Search engines send users straight to the information they require—
or so users may think—without any need for an intermediary to classify, catalogue,
cross-reference, advise on sources.
The ready availability of information on the Internet, and its widespread use, really
presents librarians with an opportunity, not a threat. Savvy users realize they need
help, which librarians can provide. A good example is Infomine, a cooperative project
of the University of California and California State University [4]. Infomine contains
descriptions and links to a wealth of scholarly and educational Internet resources,
each of which has been selected and described by a professional academic librarian
who is a specialist in the subject and in resource description generally. Participating
librarians see this as an important expenditure of effort for their users, a natural evolu-
tion of their traditional task of collecting and organizing information in print.
New trends in information access present librarians in developed countries with
difficult and conflicting challenges. Meanwhile, however, the situation in the develop-
ing world is dire. Here, traditional publishing and distribution mechanisms have failed
tragically. For example, according to the 1999 UN Human Development Report [7],
whereas a US medical library subscribes to about 5,000 journals, the Nairobi Univer-
sity Medical School Library, long regarded as a flagship center in East Africa, last
year received just 20 journals (compared with 300 a decade before). In Brazzaville,
Congo, the university has only 40 medical books and a dozen journals, all from before

1993, and the library in
a large district hospital consisted of a single bookshelf filled
mostly with novels.
2.4 Open-source software
Open source software is a powerful ally for librarians who wish to extend liberal
traditions of information access. Open source projects make source code freely avail-
able for others to view, modify, and adapt; and the very nature of the licensing agree-
ment prevents the software from being appropriated by proprietary vendors. But the
open-source movement is more than just a vehicle for librarians to use: its link with
library traditions goes much deeper. Public libraries and open source software both
enshrine the same philosophy: to promote learning and understanding through the
dissemination of knowledge. Both enjoy a sense of community, on the one hand the
kind of inter-institutional cooperation exemplified by inter-library loan and on the
other teams of designers and programmers that frequently cross national boundaries.
3 Disseminating humanitarian information with DLs
Digital libraries provide perhaps the first really compelling raison d’être for comput-
ing technology in the developing world. Priorities in these countries include health,
agriculture, nutrition, hygiene, sanitation, and safe drinking water. Computers per se
are not a priority, but simple, reliable access to practical information relevant to these
basic needs certainly is. Witten et al. [8] mention ten information collections in which
Greenstone is being used to deliver humanitarian and related information in develop-
ing countries. For example, the Humanity Development Library is a compendium of
practical information aimed at helping reduce poverty, increasing human potential,
and giving a useful education. Rather than recapitulating parts of the above-cited
paper, we describe four new ones (Fig. 1).
The Researching Education Development library is a project of the Department for
International Development (DFID), a British government department whose central
focus is a commitment to a target of halving the proportion of people living in ex-
treme poverty by 2015. Associated targets include ensuring universal primary educa-
tion, gender equality in schooling, and skills development. It has created a CD-ROM
library containing many education research papers and other documents. Each one
represents a study or piece of commissioned research on some aspect of education and
training in developing countries.
The Energy for Sustainable Development library, initiated jointly by the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Department of Eco-
nomic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), and the World Energy Council (WEC), con-
tains a collection of 350 documents (26,000 pages). It includes titles that all these
organizations have published on the subjects of energy for sustainable development—
technical guidelines, journals and newsletters, case studies, manuals, reports, and

Citations
More filters

Journal Article
Abstract: Digital Divide: Civic Engagement, Information Poverty, and the Internet Worldwide. Pippa Norris. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 303 pp. $60 hbk., $20 pbk. Forecasts that the Internet heralds a world of more democracy and less poverty seem as inflated as dot.com stocks. This rosy view has electronic voting, political chat rooms, and email access re-engaging apathetic publics in politics. Digital technologies redress economic disparities, and the benefits of the Internet percolate down to transform poor societies. Equally exaggerated is the gloom of naysayers. The Internet Age has done little to narrow the gap between rich and poor countries, the information haves and havenots, cyber-skeptics contend. Indeed, digital technologies could create new inequalities and reinforce the dominance of power elites. In her new book, Digital Divide, Pippa Norris, associate director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, steps into this fusillade of cyber-hyperbole, lowers the decibel with a well-written and thoughtful examination of Internet use and access in 179 countries and dissects the claims and counter-claims. Her research and findings place her on middle ground, somewhere between current reality and optimism. The Internet era seems to be changing "politics as usual" in a number of countries, expanding and loosening information about governments and politics, allowing the entrance of new political players, and fostering international movements on the environment, women's rights, and other issues across borders. The disappointment is that digital technologies are activating the already politically active and passing up the disengaged and uninterested. A major challenge to digital democracy is the gulf between the United States, Scandinavia, and other early Internet adopters and the rest of the world. That gap is now so wide that at the turn of the century, more than three-quarters of the online community lived in the developed world. Internet use tracks the path of economic and technological development. But that situation could begin to change, Norris says. The Internet is in its technological adolescence. Costs of access are falling. And governments can make a difference if policymakers take the initiative. We have the historical patterns of other communication technologies to study. Norris examines theories of technological diffusion and points out that the American response to the Internet is more akin to the rapid spread of televisions and VCRs than the slower adoption of telephones and radios. American dominance could recede as Internet access grows worldwide. Contrary to what officials of the Bush Administration contend, Norris finds that the digital divide between rich and poor within the United States remains substantial. Europe mirrors that trend. In the long run, the Internet could become more accessible to the excluded: lower income families, minorities, and women. …

889 citations


01 Jan 2013
Abstract: This study investigated the development of academic digital library in Oyo State, Nigeria. Attention was committed to the following areas: functionality, usability assessment and challenges. Survey method was employed. The result revealed that digital library is developing in Nigeria, and its functions are evident as it supplements printed information resources. Assessment of the use of digital library should be user centred; facilities and the environment then follow. The results show the challenges associated with the use of academic digital library in Oyo State; it ranges from lack of effective access, sustainability of the resources, unstable power supply and constraints in building the resources. The tool employed for this study was a structured questionnaire consisting of 15 items. 250 University students were sampled, using simple random sampling technique. The overall result suggested that development of academic digital library in Oyo State, Nigeria is making progress, but efforts should be made in finding a durable solution to the challenges that are posing threat to its use. The paper ends with a call to higher institutions in Nigeria, to include library digitization into their policies and plans for effective use and assessment. Meanwhile, recommendations were made for future research.

16 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
22 Jun 2015
TL;DR: The basic findings of the study is that open source digital library and collection management tools offer advanced operations and support various metadata and interoperability protocols with easy and user-friendly interfaces.
Abstract: Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to evaluate open source software (OSS) for digital libraries and collection management and to propose different utilization scenarios based on the characteristics of the tools. Design/methodology/approach – The tools are assessed on the basis of their technical features and options, the type of the content they manage, the support for common library operations such as cataloging and circulation, the searching support and the interoperability options. Then they are evaluated by users and finally a number of usage scenarios are analyzed based on the results of the evaluation. Findings – The basic findings of the study is that open source digital library and collection management tools offer advanced operations and support various metadata and interoperability protocols with easy and user-friendly interfaces. Most of the tools are extensively used under various settings and establishments already. Language support for the interfaces should be extended with more language...

16 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
01 Dec 2009-Libri
TL;DR: The objectives of this study are to find out the current state of manuscript collection management and practices in selected libraries, to identify the problems faced by manuscript repositories, and to study the meta data schema used by repositories to describe their manuscript collections.
Abstract: The paper describes an exploratory needs analysis for a digital library of Malay manuscripts. The manuscripts are facing several problems, including (a) the lack of trained manu script librarians; (b) budgetary constraints in manual and digital preservation initiatives; (c) the problems in storage and maintenance of the collection; (d) restricted access for users, (e) the need to preserve the fragile manuscripts, (e) the difficulty of undertaking collaborative transliteration work because of the access problems; (f) the dispersal of titles at several repositories which exacerbates the access issue; and (g) a lack of detail in the description in the manuscript library catalogues. The objectives of this study are: (a) to find out the current state of manuscript collection management and practices in selected libraries; (b) to identify the problems faced by manuscript repositories; (c) to study the meta data schema used by repositories to describe their manu script collections, and (d) to identify a suitable open source digital library software to support a digital library of manu scripts. The study gathers qualitative data from an open-ended questionnaire distributed to five manuscript librarians in Malaysia. Cataloguing practices in manuscript repositories were observed and the open-source digital library software Green stone was studied for its suitability. The information gathered and observed which helped determine the requirements of a digital library that empowers repositories in building, storing, preserving and disseminating information about manuscript collections is presented. The design and modules of the digital library are described.

9 citations


Cites background from "Digital libraries: developing count..."

  • ...Witten (2004a, 2005) appropriately described “empowering” in the context of the digital library as using currently available technology to allow users to build and publish information collections, making digital libraries open to all, as conventional public libraries are....

    [...]


Journal Article
Abstract: The paper focused on the expectations of library schools in the training and preparation of future librarians. The desk research and brainstorming with professional colleagues were combined as approach for eliciting the data for the study. The highlights of the paper include review of library and information science education, libraries and librarianship in developing countries; justification for preparing future librarians in developing countries for the digital environment, review of the status of library and information science education in selected countries. The various expectations of library schools in the digital environment identified includes inclusion of digital library courses in LIS education, restructuring and reviewing of courses offered in library schools, provision of functional and well-equipped practical laboratories and learning resources, intensive exchange programmes, recruitment of skilled and qualified staff in library schools and inclusion of stakeholders to harmonize curriculum used in training librarians in Africa. The challenges to preparation / training of future librarians were identified. The position of the paper is that library schools in developing countries should be repositioned to be able to produce graduates that are adequately equipped to function effectively in the digital environment. Keywords: Developing Countries, Digital Environment Librarians, Library Schools, Training

2 citations


References
More filters

Journal ArticleDOI

9,693 citations


Book
Pippa Norris1
01 Jan 2001
Abstract: From the Publisher: Digital Divide examines access and use of the Internet in 179 nations world-wide. A global divide is evident between industrialized and developing societies. A social divide is apparent between rich and poor within each nation. Within the online community, evidence for a democratic divide is emerging between those who do and do not use Internet resources to engage and participate in public life. Part I outlines the theoretical debate between cyber-optimists who see the Internet as the great leveler. Part II examines the virtual political system and the way that representative institutions have responded to new opportunities on the Internet. Part III analyzes how the public has responded to these opportunities in Europe and the United States and develops the civic engagement model to explain patterns of participation via the Internet.

2,823 citations


Journal Article
Abstract: Digital Divide: Civic Engagement, Information Poverty, and the Internet Worldwide. Pippa Norris. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 303 pp. $60 hbk., $20 pbk. Forecasts that the Internet heralds a world of more democracy and less poverty seem as inflated as dot.com stocks. This rosy view has electronic voting, political chat rooms, and email access re-engaging apathetic publics in politics. Digital technologies redress economic disparities, and the benefits of the Internet percolate down to transform poor societies. Equally exaggerated is the gloom of naysayers. The Internet Age has done little to narrow the gap between rich and poor countries, the information haves and havenots, cyber-skeptics contend. Indeed, digital technologies could create new inequalities and reinforce the dominance of power elites. In her new book, Digital Divide, Pippa Norris, associate director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, steps into this fusillade of cyber-hyperbole, lowers the decibel with a well-written and thoughtful examination of Internet use and access in 179 countries and dissects the claims and counter-claims. Her research and findings place her on middle ground, somewhere between current reality and optimism. The Internet era seems to be changing "politics as usual" in a number of countries, expanding and loosening information about governments and politics, allowing the entrance of new political players, and fostering international movements on the environment, women's rights, and other issues across borders. The disappointment is that digital technologies are activating the already politically active and passing up the disengaged and uninterested. A major challenge to digital democracy is the gulf between the United States, Scandinavia, and other early Internet adopters and the rest of the world. That gap is now so wide that at the turn of the century, more than three-quarters of the online community lived in the developed world. Internet use tracks the path of economic and technological development. But that situation could begin to change, Norris says. The Internet is in its technological adolescence. Costs of access are falling. And governments can make a difference if policymakers take the initiative. We have the historical patterns of other communication technologies to study. Norris examines theories of technological diffusion and points out that the American response to the Internet is more akin to the rapid spread of televisions and VCRs than the slower adoption of telephones and radios. American dominance could recede as Internet access grows worldwide. Contrary to what officials of the Bush Administration contend, Norris finds that the digital divide between rich and poor within the United States remains substantial. Europe mirrors that trend. In the long run, the Internet could become more accessible to the excluded: lower income families, minorities, and women. …

889 citations


Book
01 Aug 2002
TL;DR: How to Build a Digital Library is the only book that offers all the knowledge and tools needed to construct and maintain a digital library-no matter how large or small, and two internationally recognized experts provide a fully developed, step-by-step method.
Abstract: From the Publisher: Given modern society's need to control its ever-increasing body of information, digital libraries will be among the most important and influential institutions of this century. With their versatility, accessibility, and economy, these focused collections of everything digital are fast becoming the "banks" in which the world's wealth of information is stored. How to Build a Digital Library is the only book that offers all the knowledge and tools needed to construct and maintain a digital library-no matter how large or small. Two internationally recognized experts provide a fully developed, step-by-step method, as well as the software that makes it all possible. How to Build a Digital Library is the perfectly self-contained resource for individuals, agencies, and institutions wishing to put this powerful tool to work in their burgeoning information treasuries. Features Sketches the history of libraries-both traditional and digital-and their impact on present practices and future directions Offers in-depth coverage of today's practical standards used to represent and store information digitally Uses Greenstone, freely accessible open-source software-available with interfaces in the world's major languages (including Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic) Written for both technical and non-technical audiences Web-enhanced with software documentation, color illustrations, full-text index, source code, and more Author Biography: Ian H. Witten is a professor of computer science at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. He directs the New Zealand Digital Library research project. His research interests include information retrieval, machine learning, text compression, and programming by demonstration. He received an MA in Mathematics from Cambridge University, England; an MSc in Computer Science from the University of Calgary, Canada; and a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Essex University, England. He is a fellow of the ACM and of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He has published widely on digital libraries, machine learning, text compression, hypertext, speech synthesis and signal processing, and computer typography. He has written several books, the latest being Managing Gigabytes (1999) and Data Mining (2000), both from Morgan Kaufmann. David Bainbridge is a senior lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. He holds a PhD in Optical Music Recognition from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand where he studied as a Commonwealth Scholar. Since moving to Waikato in 1996 he has continued to broadened his interest in digital media, while retaining a particular emphasis on music. An active member of the New Zealand Digital Library project, he manages the group's digital music library, Meldex, and has collaborated with several United Nations Agencies, the BBC and various public libraries. David has also worked as a research engineer for Thorn EMI in the area of photo-realistic imaging and graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1991 as the class medalist in Computer Science.

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266 citations


Frequently Asked Questions (2)
Q1. What are the contributions in "Digital libraries: developing countries, universal access, and information for all" ?

This has great social import because, by democratizing information dissemination, it provides a counterbalance to disturbing commercialization initiatives in the information and entertainment industries. This talk reviews trends in today ’ s information environment, introduces digital library technology, and explores applications of digital libraries—including their use for disseminating humanitarian information in developing countries. 

By allowing people to easily create and disseminate large information collections, digital libraries extend the applications of modern technology in socially responsible directions, and counter a possible threat towards the commercialization of information in line with practices developed by the entertainment industry. As far as the developing world is concerned, digital libraries may prove to be a “ killer app ” for computer technology—that is, an application that makes a sustained market for a promising but under-utilized technology. It should be possible to create digital library collections intended for people in oral cultures, who may be illiterate or semi-literate. Opening digital libraries to the illiterate is a radical and potentially revolutionary benefit of new interface technology.