Deep Sharing: the Case for the Federated Digital Library

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Libraries have reacted quickly to dizzying changes in the information landscape over the past two decades. Indeed, the rapid acceptance of relevant technologies is a library tradition, from the early adoption of typewriters, mimeograph machines, and photocopiers to the use of the fax for document delivery and the mainframe computer for online catalogs. In particular, libraries seized on networked delivery as a transformational new conduit to advance a core library mission: the dissemination of information in the pursuit of knowledge. Fundamental needs in the digital library will be better served by exploring the possibility of collaboratively built, jointly owned, centrally pooled library content—a federated digital library to which librarians contribute content that users will see as a unified collection and from which libraries can draw files into local collections for innovative reuse and re-articulation as the needs of local users dictate. This federated digital library could provide quite a different experience for users. First, it would allow a common interface (such as now exists for catalog records) for distributed collections for those who want a massive, unified digital library of content. Second, and more radically, it would enable librarians and end-users alike to download “digital master” files as malleable objects for local re-combinations, to be enriched with context from librarians or teachers, crafted for specific audiences, and unified in appearance and function. A user could download, combine, search, annotate, and wrap the results into a seamless “digital library mix” for others to experience.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-11
JournalEDUCAUSE Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2003


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