The emergence of the Internet and the wide availability of affordable computing equipment have created tremendous interest in digital libraries and electronic publishing. This book is the first to provide an integrated overview of the field, including a historical perspective, the state of the art, and current research.
The term "digital libraries" covers the creation and distribution of all types of information over networks, ranging from converted historical materials to kinds of information that have no analogues in the physical world. In some ways digital libraries and traditional libraries are very different, yet in other ways they are remarkably similar. People still create information that has to be organized, stored, and distributed, and they still need to find and use information that others have created. An underlying theme of this book is that no aspect of digital libraries can be understood in isolation or without attention to the needs of the people who create and use information. Although the book covers a wide range of technical, economic, social, and organizational topics, the focus is on the actual working components of a digital library.
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These days we seem to be creating information faster than we can store it, but the near future is looking bright. Cornell professor William Y. Arms offers a program for that future in Digital Libraries, a synthesis of library and computer sciences that presents the history and current developments in each field with special emphasis on their interactions.
Since the book necessarily must appeal to a broad spectrum of professionals, any given reader will find some parts elementary, but Arms clearly maps the common ground and much of the text will appeal to all. Chapters covering the basics of information management, the Internet, security, archives, and retrieval bridge the traditional books-and-shelves library systems and the often jury-rigged information architecture developed over 40 years of computer use.
Digital Libraries contains plenty of sidebars detailing historical information as well as definitions primarily suited to professionals entering the interdisciplinary zone (but which would unacceptably break up the text flow; while it's important to understand both MARC codes and TCP/IP protocols, it's best for each reader to decide what supplementary information is needed). Digital Libraries is an ambitious and important book--if we are to develop truly efficient and accessible information management systems, everyone concerned must understand their shared technical history and move forward as one. --Rob LightnerAbout the Author:
William Y. Arms is Professor of Computer Science at Cornell University.
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