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45 4 DIGITAL LIBRARIES FOR THE ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES Ian Anderson Introduction Over the last fifteen years digital libraries have rapidly evolved from small-scale, independent, experimental projects to large-scale programmes which are increasingly integrated into the activities of the ‘bricks and mortar’ library (Greenstein and Thorin, 2002). In so doing they have moved from seeking to develop their own ‘killer applications’ to modular systems increasingly utilising international standards and being offered as customisable open source infrastructures. Moreover, recent years have seen a concerted research effort to develop reference models for digital libraries and produce models, risk assessments and audit tools for digital repositories and digital preservation. At the same time e-journals, electronic thesis, institutional repositories and mass-digitisation programmes, particularly in the arts and humanities, have made an unprecedented range of content available to populate the new digital library infrastructure. Developments in more specialist fields such as metadata standards and interoperability, data interchange, storage and network capacity have all contributed to making digital libraries viable, largescale , global prospects. As other chapters in this book indicate, however, for those responsible for the business planning of digital libraries, research has not kept pace with developments. Critical issues such as market analysis and segmentation, user evaluation, impact measurement, costs, income, financial planning, ROI, marketing and risk analysis are more opaque than they ought to be. Furthermore, the very profusion of research outputs, the rapid pace of technological developments and the seemingly never ending debate over what is and isn’t a digital library can make the whole enterprise seem so bewilderingly complex as to prevent its execution with any degree of certainty. Justifying an arts and social science approach Nor is the process helped by the bulk of digital library research being framed in terms of domain analysis, such as architecture, access, content, interoperability, preservation and evaluation rather than subject knowledge. This has been a characteristic of information science research for the best part of thirty years and is not peculiar to digital libraries (Hjørland, 2005). This is not the place to debate the pros and cons of subject knowledge in bottom-up or top-down models of information science theory but, nevertheless, a justification for taking an arts and social science subject, or discipline, based approach to planning digital libraries needs to be made. BPDG_opmaak_12072010.indd 45 13/07/10 11:51 Ian Anderson 46 So what is it about the arts and social sciences that justifies taking discipline considerations into the business planning of a digital library? Defining what we mean by the arts and social sciences can be problematic in itself, but a relatively uncontroversial list would include the performing and visual arts, history – in many of its guises – archaeology, classics, philosophy, literature, languages and theology in the arts. Political economy, politics, social policy, sociology, anthropology, and economic, social and medical history would typically be found in the social sciences. One may also find disciplines such as education, geography, law, international studies, business and management classified as social sciences. There are undoubtedly other disciplines that can be included and others might fall off the list. It has never been possible precisely to define these areas and they are subject to continued change. For centuries the ‘humanities’ was everything other than divinity, and more recently disciplines such as natural philosophy and mathematics sat comfortably within the arts. That the boundaries of the arts and social sciences are difficult to define, that they will vary considerably depending on location, tradition, institutional context and that they are subject to continual flux are reasons why a discipline based approach can be justified. Presuming that any digital library with arts and social science content and users cannot ignore this variability, the only sensible approach is to try and incorporate disciplinary factors within the business planning process. This chapter does not suggest a magic, one-size-fits-all solution, but rather outlines some of the important characteristics of the arts and social sciences as they relate to the digital library, and suggests a variety of ways in which they can be accounted for. E-Journal use One of the most obvious distinguishing characteristics is the very different balance between analogue and digital content within the arts and social sciences compared to that in many other disciplines. Looking at e-journals, the cornerstone of the digital library, at first sight the differences may not appear significant. It is estimated that 96.1% of journals in science, technology and medicine are available on...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9789461660015
Related ISBN
9789058678379
MARC Record
OCLC
715171689
Pages
250
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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