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Number: 71
Year: 2002
Author: Johann Van Reenen, Editor
Title: Digital Libraries and Virtual Workplaces. Important Initiatives for Latin America in the Information Age


      In conclusion, we try to put digital libraries in perspective by answering key questions.

      Why? We build digital libraries for many reasons.  They can help us preserve our linguistic, literary, historical, and cultural heritage. They make access simpler and cheaper. They lower the costs of disseminating information. They help us establish new communities around new collections that can now become available. They support teaching and learning, especially in the context of distance or lifelong learning. They allow rich media types to be included and managed effectively. They encourage authors to create and share, and others to collaborate and quickly build on newly discovered knowledge.

      How? Digital libraries provide comparable or better services to traditional libraries at relatively low cost over existing networks and tools like those used for WWW. They are built in most cases upon prior technologies, such as library automation packages or records management systems. Research systems like MARIAN and Dienst may become more widely deployed. Certainly, lightweight software such as that used for Open Archives will be commonly used. Connecting an URN scheme, a repository mechanism, search engine(s), and a WWW interface can lead to a relatively simple system in short order.

      What? All types of content will be available through digital libraries. They will become the high-end of the information systems world, not only including bibliographic and full-text content but also images, music, and video.  Included will be medical images, images of scanned pages, engineering drawings, satellite images, educational videos, courseware, oral histories, 3D renderings of museum objects, musical performances, etc.

      Where? Digital libraries are appearing all around the world.  DL’s are managed by universities, publishers, government agencies, and public libraries. Some companies are shifting to use them for records and reports as well as for customer access. In the context of this booklet, we are assured that they will be widely used throughout Latin America!