Digital Libraries

A. Purpose and Program Description

The Libraries' digital information collection development objective is to select those materials which will support the current curricular and research needs of the Columbia community.

Members of the Columbia Community access digital information using personal computers in their offices, dorms, homes, and by public terminals located in libraries and other public buildings on campus. The sophistication and knowledge of the Libraries’ digital information users varies significantly. The Libraries have many patrons whose only contact with computers has been word processing. Others routinely locate and exchange information with colleagues the world over using the Internet. The digital library research skills of most of Columbia’s undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and post-doctoral researchers lie somewhere along the continuum between these two extremes. The breadth and depth of information sources needed by them also differ. Consequently, the Libraries provide access to a wide variety of materials using an equally wide variety of access mediums to meet patrons' needs.

B. General Selection Guidelines (see classed analysis for detailed statement)

Overall, the Libraries collect at the research level.

C. Specific Delimitations

  1. Access mediums employed: The Libraries employ remote Web access to digital sources of information on an extensive basis and networked CD-ROM and single CD-ROM workstations selectively. The Libraries favor Internet and WWW products because they offer ease of use, wider access, more rapid updating, and the cost savings over local maintenance and storage. It is in the process of migrating away from all Telnet applications in favor of Web access.
  2. Archiving: The Libraries share with other research and educational institutions the responsibility to determine the most effective methods for the long-term preservation of the digital materials accessed by Columbia but not stored locally in its collection. It has a special preservation responsibility for digital materials unique to Columbia. Items for which the specific archiving responsibility has not been established may be purchased. In the future, however, the lack of a fixed archival responsibility may become increasingly important selection criteria.
  3. Consortial purchasing: The Libraries participate in the Northeast Research Libraries Consortium and the New York Consortia of Consortia in order to take advantage of aggregated purchasing agreements. It seeks consortial licensing opportunities whenever possible.
  4. Coordination and promotion: Networked Resources Coordinators (NRC’s) are assigned for each networked title. NRC’s are responsible for promoting the use of each new tool, of overseeing librarian and user training, of communicating to members of the Columbia community the strengths and limitations of the digital collections, and of working with vendors and publishers when problems cannot be easily resolved by Library Systems Office personnel.
  5. Digital conversion: As funds are made available, new technologies absorbed, and current copyright barriers overcome, materials previously purchased in print form will selectively be converted to digital form.
  6. Document types collected: Reference tools, e.g., indexes, abstracts, directories news services, etc., and full-text e-journals are collected very extensively; relevant Web pages extensively; Zines, machine readable data files, and digital monographs selectively; and multimedia courseware are collected very selectively.
  7. Duplication: The Libraries generally purchase duplicate copies of the same content for only high-use titles. However, until more is known about the level of patron acceptance of digital sources of information, the Libraries will acquire both print and digital versions of the same material. The intent, however, is to gravitate toward the digital format a soon as possible.
  8. Electronic journal aggregation preferences: The Libraries prefer a subject interface that permits the use of both a controlled vocabulary and key words to search the full-text contents of electronic journals without giving up the ability to browse the contents of individual issues. It favors the following models of access; (In order of preference)
    1. Web-based indexing and abstracting services linked to full-text electronic journals, e.g., ISI’s ability in the near future to link between SCI/SSCI/AHCI and the contents of full-text journals.
    2. Aggregated databases composed of a variety of media, e.g., newspapers, newsletters, government reports, monographs, reference works, etc., e.g., Academic Universe, ProQuest Direct.
    3. Aggregated collections of journals published by a variety of publishers but sharing a common searching a common searching interface, e.g., J-Stor.
    4. Aggregated collections of journals published by a single publisher but sharing a common searching interface, e.g., Ideal, Project Muse, etc.
    5. If none of these aggregated forms of access are possible, individual titles will nonetheless be collected.