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digital library

  A system providing the services of a library in digital form. With recent advances in computing and networking technologies it is now possible in principle to convert all of humanity\'s printed corpus into digital form, and to make this information available to all over the Internet, allowing millions of people to find, access and read millions of books at the same time. Digital libraries have been quickest to develop in areas where funding is greatest, and where technology is most accessible; rapid progress has been made in making medical library collections searchable and readable digitally, and the same is true of collections in computer science. Many electronic journals have emerged in recent years, and the catalogues of research libraries are now almost universally digital. In a related development, bookstores have been among the earliest of businesses to exploit network technology, and it is increasingly possible to acquire printed publications via the World Wide Web.

The digital library concept has also been applied to map and imagery libraries, in an effort to make geographic data sets more widely accessible. Many governments and agencies now provide some form of central digital repository or clearing-house for geographic information, allowing users to search, browse and retrieve information that may be of use to them. Imagery from commercial satellites is available for purchase and acquisition over the Internet using very similar technology. Several standards have been devised for cataloging maps and images, of which the US Federal Geographic Data Committee\'s Content Standards for Digital Geospatial Metadata (FGDC, 1993) are the best known. (MG)

References Federal Geographic Data Committee 1993: Content Standards for Digital Geospatial Metadata. Washington, D.C.



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