The Social Role of Digital Libraries

Derek Law

Head of Information Resources Directorate
University of Strathclyde

11 March 2004

9:00-9:30 am
Coffee and Pastries

9:30-11:00 am
Presentation and Q&A

OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc.
Kilgour Auditorium
6565 Frantz Road
Dublin, OH 43017-3395

Professor Derek Law, of the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, will discuss the social opportunities presented by digital libraries. While digital libraries pose significant technical problems, they enable libraries of all types to contribute digitized or born-digital collections to the shared environment in which libraries have traditionally operated.

The huge social success of libraries in the print arena suggests that similar challenges can be managed in the digital environment.

Scattered communities can be brought together, scattered collections can be unified, and confrontational communities can be brought closer. Additionally, we can learn from older oral traditions how to deal with issues facing us today. While these issues may be technically novel, the principles discovered are not.

The low entry threshold to digital libraries, such as cheap technology, shareware, and OAI, suggests that digital libraries can be an inclusive phenomenon that enlivens rather than excludes a variety of cultural traditions.

Derek Law has earned an international reputation for his work in developing services to support innovative learning. He is currently President of the eIFL Advisory Board, in addition to holding several positions at the University of Strathclyde, including University Librarian, Head of Information Resources Directorate, Head of the Centre for Digital Library Research, and Professor in the University's Department of Computing. Professor Law has published over 150 book chapters, articles and conference papers and his work has been honored with several awards, including the Barnard prize for contributions to Medical Informatics.

Background information

PDF version of this document