Digital Libraries - a challenge for Medical Research and Education

Document type: Journal Articles
Article type: Original article
Peer reviewed: Yes
Full text:
Author(s): Peter Linde
Title: Digital Libraries - a challenge for Medical Research and Education
Journal: Applied Research in Health and Social Sciences:Interface and Interaction
Year: 2006
Volume: 1
Issue: 2
Pagination: 92-98
ISSN: 1822-3338
Publisher: Klaipeda College
City: Klaipeda
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: The Library (Biblioteket)
The Library, Blekinge Institute of Technology, S-371 79 Karlskrona
+46 455 38 50 00
Authors e-mail:
Language: English
Abstract: Since the early 1990s Digital Libraries have become a major factor for collecting, organising and distributing scientific research. This is especially true in the biomedical sciences. In this article, different definitions of the term Digital Libraries are discussed. Two major definitions are dwelled upon: one emerging from the library world and the other from the world of scientific research.
Librarians tend to speak for a broader definition of the term “Library”. They see a library as an organisation that secures the selection, conservation, organisation, preservation and the access to information that is vital for the members of the specific organisation.
Researchers most often favour a narrower definition of the library concept. For them a library could be any room containing a smaller or bigger amount of books or data discs or tape cassettes. Researchers seldom care for the social and institutional context of the term “Library”. Their emphasis is tilted towards databases and how to collect, retrieve, organise and access the information.
Future use, development and problems of Digital Libraries, their content, users and their staffing are discussed. For example, the technical issues which include the problem with standards and protocols. To bring the distributed variety of digital resources and services together in a way that allow for integration and unified search, retrieval and presentation is a great challenge for the future. So is the problem of transferring personalised service and support from standard library and information services to the digital library. A user interface can hardly replace person to person service but better user interfaces must be developed and researched in order to help users. The future digital library will go beyond helping the user with searching and browsing only. They must be able to expect support for taking correct actions and getting help for problem solving where the digital library system confirm or deny existing hypotheses.
Content management technologies will be the big thing of the future. The increasing amount of digital content will see to that. Semantic web technologies will probably add important features to digital libraries like semantic interoperability, better browsing, searching and filtering capabilities and delegating routine tasks of cataloguing, metadata annotation etc to automated agents. Simple algorithms and brute computing power will make your local librarian rarer and rarer. Another fact that also point in that direction is that one of the major costs for classic libraries are staff, facilities and materials, in that order. The future digital library more or less depend on materials only.
Now and in the future computers can rank and find documents, they can evaluate, make citation analysis, they can extract references from a document and link them to the full text source (SFX). Better ways of extracting and inserting meta data are under development. The low cost of these operations are bringing medical research to new audiences.
The challenge for medical research and digital libraries of the future is to handle the increasing automisation of the research sources in a way that makes these resources manageable and available to a broader audience. This certainly can not be done without the specialist librarian working as an interface between the machine and the customer.
Digital libraries and resources in the Medical field comes in many shapes. A few good examples of what is available today as Open Access on the Internet is presented like Bioline International, BioMed Central, Public Library of Science (PLOS) etc.
Subject: Nursing & Caring Sciences\General
Keywords: Digital libraries, Information science, librarians, future, open access