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UMST ELECTRONIC LIBRARY ONLINE SYSTEM
Review of the literature
Ahmed Nasr Al deen
2.1 General Background of Electronic library
Digital 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 impact because it democratizes the dissemination of information. In particular, it will revolutionize the way in which education is conducted and educational materials are prepared.
The emergence of the World Wide Web is changing society’s view of information by making unprecedented volumes of information freely available. Of course, it is an unreliable source of enlightenment, and undiscriminating use is dangerous – and, unfortunately, widespread. Nevertheless, the web abounds with accessible, high-quality information. Many educational establishments, international organizations, social groups, non-profit societies and charities make it their business to create sites on which they collect and organize information.
There are many different definitions of the term “digital library”: a selection is given below.
The first two definitions suggest that a digital library is the same as a traditional library, or a traditional information retrieval system, except that the material is represented digitally.
A library that encodes journals, books, and information into a digital format.
A collection of texts, images, etc., encoded so as to be stored, retrieved, and read by computer.
Other definitions emphasize traditional library functions but go further by stipulating that new services can be offered.
The second definition below envisages a rather comprehensive set of services, which includes preservation of information (under “protection”) – a traditional library virtue that, surprisingly, is not mentioned by any of the other definitions.
A collection of digital representations of information content, along with hardware, software, and personnel to support the functions of a traditional library plus knowledge worker operations like searching, browsing, and navigation.
An integrated set of services for capturing, cataloguing, storing, searching, protecting, and retrieving information.
Some definitions emphasize technical features: size, scale, distributed structure, network access. The second one below notes the possibility of capturing dynamically changing information, something a conventional library cannot do.
A collection of a very large number of digital objects, comprising all types of material and media, that are stored in distributed information repositories and accessed through national computer networks.
A large collection of information that has been stored in digital form. A digital library can include documents, images, sounds, and information gathered from ongoing events (e.g. continuous pictures from a weather satellite).
Others reflect a strong relationship with the web. Is the World Wide Web a digital library, or not? – we revisit this question after the next assignment.
Digital libraries can include reference material or resources accessible through the World Wide Web. Digitized portions of a library’s collection or original material produced for the web can also be included in a digital library.
A related term is “virtual library”. While this might be considered synonymous with “digital library” in that both emphasize the intangible nature of the material stored, it is more often used to denote a portal to information that is available electronically elsewhere.
2.2 Electronic Library projects
Electronic library projects started in the early 1990s. One of the first projects was Vatican Library Accessible Worldwide – a partnership of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro and IBM (Brazil, Italy and USA). The items to be digitized were selected from the manuscript and rare book collections. The prototype server was first tested in July 1995. Mintzer et al  presented some results of the project in 1996.
Another, at about the same time, was Alexandria Digital Library (ADL) – a project of the University of California, Santa Barbara. It began in 1995 and the digital items are geographically referenced materials. Unlike the Vatican Project, ADL is still operative and information about it can be obtained from the “What is ADL? Item of the project website.” 
Both projects involved universities but none focused on materials created either by faculty or by students. They aimed at making available collections of very specific items that were produced outside the higher education process. Almost at the same time, in 1993, at Virginia Tech – Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University , the first electronic theses and dissertations were ready to be published  following an initiative of the graduate programs.
After these early activities, a lot has happened in the areas of digital libraries, digital publishing and networking of electronic educational and cultural resources. In this world of fast change, digital libraries offer many facilities to education in general and to higher education in particular.
2.3 Role of electronic libraries in higher education
Over the centuries, libraries have been the keepers and distributors of books, journals, maps and other materials that are used by students in the learning process. They have also been the legal deposit of part of the products of scholarly publications – theses & dissertations, articles, technical reports, etc.
In general, students have been patrons of the libraries of their institutions. In order to make more contents available and thus benefit students and faculty, pools of institutions have engaged in commuting items and/or their copies. There is no reason for digital libraries not to have the same functions of traditional libraries, except that they can add functions and value due to their digital and networked nature. Let the different functions of a digital library in the higher education context be examined.
2.3.1Electronic Libraries and Courseware
Books and traditional items have been kept and distributed by the university libraries. On the other hand, class notes, simulators, spread sheets and other materials created by faculty have traditionally been made available by their authors through copies in an informal distribution situation. The use of ICT – Information and Communication tools has changed the informal distribution to computer and networked based solutions. As consequence, a great amount of contents became available from computers lacking the necessary identification and access control. Identification (description of the digital contents) is important for the search and retrieves actions by users.
The LTSC – Learning Technology Standards Committee  is a committee of IEEE – Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers  whose mission is ‘to develop technical Standards, Recommended Practices and Guides for software components, tools, technologies and design methods that facilitate the development, deployment, maintenance and interoperation of computer implementations of education and training components and systems. The use of digital contents in education has become so important that LTSC has one of its working groups with the specific mission of addressing metadata for learning objectives.
2.3.2Digital libraries and references
Students go to libraries to look for materials that go beyond course contents. They seek additional books, journals, theses & dissertations, technical reports and other items that enhance the learning process. This is extremely important in the high undergraduate years and in the graduate level. Research is based on a lot of searching, retrieving and reading. So, libraries must carry and make available collections to fulfill this need.
Digital libraries, like their traditional counterparts, can hold reference materials. In addition they have all the advantages of being accessible round the clock, possessing the ability of fast access to information and the great flexibility to be updated and renewed when desired.
When hearing the term library we think at once about a place where we store books, journals, maps and other materials.
Libraries have been the companions of higher education for many centuries. They have preserved and given access to all sorts of materials – books, manuscripts, rare documents, journals, maps, etc.- that have supported the process of learning. They have also been the keepers of materials produce by students, faculty and researchers – graduate projects, theses & dissertation, technical reports, etc. – in this sense they have functioned as the institutional archive.
It is important to remark that, for institutionally created materials the library has to grant access while preserving the documents as an archive. Theses and dissertations are scientific works but at the same time, are parts of the history of the institution.
When a digital library is created, all the functions that have been performed by the traditional library will have parallel in the digital and networked environment.
At the same time, a digital library can perform functions that are impossible with traditional situation and that aggregate value to higher education. These were presented in the second section of this work. Accessibility, availability, interaction, customization and reuse are strong reasons to use digital libraries for higher education even when there are challenges in the digital and networked environment.
 Ana M B Pavani – The role of digital in higher education.
Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio de Janerio, Brazil.
 Mintzer, F C, Boyle, L. E., Cazes, A. N., Christian, B., Cox, S. C. Giordano, F.P., Glandney, H. M. Lee, J. C., Kelmanson, M.L., Lirani, A., Magelain, K., Pavani, A. & Schiattarella, F., “Toward online, worldwide access of the Vatican Library materials”, IBM Journal of Research and Development, Vol 40, No 2., 1996, pp 139- 162, available at
 Alexandria Digital Library, available at
 Virginia Tech – Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, available at
 McMillan, G, “Electronic Theses Dissertations: Merging Perspectives”, draft (dated November 10, 1995) of the article that was written for a special issue of Cataloging and Classification Quarterly, that focused Electronic Resources: Selection and Bibliographic Control, Vol 22, No ¾, 1996.
 LTSC – Learning Technology Standards Committee, available at
 IEEE – Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, available at
 UNESCO INSTITUTE FOR INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES IN EDUCATION – Digital Libraries in education, 8 Kedrova St. Bld. 3, Moscow, 117292, Russian Federation, 2006,available at
http://iite.unesco.org/pics/publications/en/files/3214563.pdfhttp://iite.unesco.org/pics/publications/en/files/3214563.pdf .training components and systems. The use of digital contents in education has become so important that LTSC has one of its working groups with the specific mission of addressing metadata for learning objectives.
Digital libraries, like their traditional counterparts, can hold reference materials. In addition they have all the advantages of being accessible round the clock, posses