Information and communication technology has revolutionized the concept of libraries. Many libraries, academic and non-academic institutions, museums and various other organizations are in the process of digitizing their valuable items. Digitization reduces the burden of preservation and also provides greater access to the required information.Electronic conversion involves document scanning and conversion, and is associated with many benefits.
A recent report by NMC, a community of experts in educational technology, freely available online at nmc.org, highlights the trends that are giving a new definition to institutional libraries. Among the strong trends identified are increased emphasis on mobile content delivery, efficient managing of research data and rethinking the use of library spaces. The trends highlighted are:
- Libraries are focusing on developing mobile-friendly sites and apps
- The drive to ensure high quality user experience
- Increased focus on the management of research data
- Call for a change in storing and publishing research data, and ensuring that the content is highly searchable
The report asserted that over the next five years and more, libraries will continue to play a key role in enhancing accessibility of research data and redefining learning spaces. Another important development is how libraries have started promoting the concept of open access publishing – either completely free or subsidized for publication by universities or researchers.
Libraries Working Hand in Hand for Optimum Performance
Libraries such as the British Library are working hand in hand with Google and other commercial partners as well as other libraries to further their digitization projects. Working with cutting-edge companies that know the ins and outs of digital conversion is beneficial and will make library collections accessible to far more people than the actual members a library may have. There is a challenge that exists though, namely, books that are already available may be scanned again only to create duplicate holdings. This risk can be minimized by working together closely.Libraries can review their existing holdings as well as each other’s to avoid scanning the same book again and again. Catalogues can be compared to find out the extent of overlap between their collections.
Advantages of Digitizing Libraries
- Once the documents in the library are digitized,they can be uploaded to the Internet for round-the clock-availability to users.
- The same resources can be accessed by multiple users – researchers, scholars, students and the public.
- Users need not go to the library physically, they can access the necessary information from anywhere in the world.
- It helps in preserving the data for future use and also prevents degradation and loss of data.
- It provides access to rich content in a more structured manner.
- Traditional libraries are limited by storage space, but digital library resources do not require physical storage space.
- Digitizing enables data management more easily and efficiently.
Libraries that don’t want to invest in expensive scanning equipment and conversion software can always consider obtaining document conversion or scanning services provided by a reliable external agency. Using advanced technology and software, and the service of expert document conversion specialists, these companies offer efficient and speedy conversion of library content within the required turnaround time.