Database technology in digital libraries
The Preston and Lin article is, at the very least, prescient – written in 2002, now 11 years later we are still discussing database technologies in libraries that each day are becoming more and more digitized. Eleven years is almost an eternity in the Network Age! That the authors spent the time they did at the beginning of the article on definitions indicates that they were discussing new ideas at the time, ideas that today are common place if not ubiquitous.
The section on on-going digital library projects described nascent and newly born technologies and projects, at the time, that have now all reached quasi geriatric maturity. Informedia’s website was put out to pasture in 2009 and has not been updated. The Alexandria Digital Library Project went defunct in 2003. All the European digital library projects coalesced into a single i2010 digital libraries initiative, Europeana (www.europeana.eu), with a fancy, Google-like homepage, a dropdown menu with 30 European languages, and connection buttons to all the leading US-based social media sites.
But the technology issues remain. We are still concerned about user-interface, query processing, interoperability, metadata, data quality, and intellectual property concerns. Some things never cease. And the managerial implications remain: reallocation of resources to procure, lease, and license digital products; balancing the growing number of digital holdings with maintaining the value of legacy non-digital holdings and collections; keeping pace with evolving user needs, ease of access, and avoidance of user confusion; the interdisciplinary work required to develop and maintain digital libraries; and the changing information literacy requirements of users and institutions.