Digital Libraries in Academia: Challenges and Changes
Although web accessible digital libraries (DLs) have greatly increased potential information accessibility within academia, the use of these resources varies widely across disciplines. This study, within contrasting departments (Humanities, Computing and Business) of a London university, reviews the social and organisational impacts of DLs across these disciplines. In-depth interviews and focus groups were used to gather data from 25 lecturers and librarians, and results analysed using the grounded theory method. Webaccessible DLs are identified as changing the roles and working patterns of academic staff (i.e. lecturers, librarians and computer support staff). However, poor accessibility due to inappropriate implementation strategies, access mechanisms, searching support & DL usability reduces the use of these resources. Consequently, web and personal collections without guarantees of quality are widely used as an accessible alternative. One conclusion is the importance of implementation strategies (e.g. giving feedback on document context, collection boundaries, ownership, accountability and support) in informing DL design.