Thursday, October 20, 2011

Role of Libraries and Librarians in Managing Digital Information

20 October 2011 :

Prepared by Husriati Hussain (Librarian, Reference & Research Division) 

Today my turn to give my point of view and the topic is the role of libraries and librarians in managing digital information. First, what is digital information, digital library and digital librarian? There are several definitions on them. For my simple understanding, I can conclude that:

Digital information – are resources which deal with born-digital materials and digitized materials which can be either accessible from library’s in-house database or from the world-wide-web. The digital information collection may include digital books, digital scanned images, graphics, textual and numeric data, digitized films, audio-video clips, etc.

Digital libraries – are electronic libraries in which large numbers of geographically distributed users can access the contents of large and diverse repositories of electronic objects – networked text, images, maps, sounds, videos, catalogues of merchandise, scientific, business and government data sets – they also include hypertext, hypermedia and multimedia compositions. Meanwhile, according to Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science, digital library is a library in which a significant proportion of the resources are available in machine-readable format (as opposed to print or microform), accessible by means of computers. The digital content may be locally held or accessed remotely via computer networks.

Digital librarian – a type of specialist information professional who manages and organizes the digital library, combines the functionality for information, elicitation, planning, data mining, knowledge mining, digital reference services, electronic information services, representation of information, extraction, and distribution of information, co-ordination, searching notably CD-ROMs, online, Internet-based WWW, multimedia access and retrieval.

With regards to the above definitions, I can say that the roles of digital librarians are:
        manage the digital libraries;
        organize digital knowledge and information;
        disseminate digital information from the computer-held digital information;
        provide digital reference services and electronic information services;
        provide knowledge mining from the emerging knowledge warehouses;
        handle the tasks of massive digitization, digital storage process, and digital preservation;
        provide universal access and retrieval of digital knowledge, ultimately access to all;
        catalogue and classify digital documents and digital knowledge;
        acts as guardian of the information superhighway/the universal digital library or the global digital library; and
        acts as a symbiotic human-machine guru

While, the roles of digital libraries are:
         hosting digital information;
         making digital information visible and accessible via search and browsing;
         supporting certain kinds of collaboration, i.e., feedback about digital resources, in support of re-use;
         using the Web as an end-user interface for these capabilities; and
         supporting teaching, learning and research activities

My conclusion is the digital library is expected to provide access to the digital information collections and the digital librarian need to take care of digital libraries and to manage the digital information system. This situation can improve intellectual access to knowledge sources in a digitized world.


Digital library. (2010). In Joan M. Reitz, Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science.
Retrieved October 20, 2011, from
Ingwersen, P. (1999). The role of libraries and librarians in organising digital information.
Libri, 49, 11-15. Retrieved October 20, 2011,
V. Sreenivasulu. (2000). The role of a digital librarian in the management of digital information
systems (DIS). The Electronic Library, 18(1), 12-20. Retrieved October 20, 2011,
from Emerald Database.


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