A vision of the future for digital libraries


Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) visualizes a bright future for virtual libraries. TFAO encourages other nonprofit organizations to expand content repositories within the visual arts. Further specialized topics might include:


Opportunities abound for further development of digital library services. Digital libraries may prefer to specialize in some but not all functions. They may want to provide or receive services such as digital conversion, content selection and acquisition, reference librarian service and lending programs. Some examples are listed below.

Cooperative programs for cost-efficient conversion of analog materials to digital format

TFAO has analyzed the methods and costs of digitizing analog media in its Digitizing Initiatives report. A cooperative program to provide economies of scale for digitizing processes would be beneficial.

Human and robotic content selection systems tailored to the visual arts

Cooperative content master planning for visual arts digital libraries could lead to lessened content redundancy and optimize subject coverage.

Cooperative human reference librarian services for digital libraries

GMILCS, Inc. a consortium of nine public libraries and three academic libraries in New Hampshire, has contracted with 24/7 Reference to provide online and after-hours reference service to its thousands of clients. The service, called "Answers Here and Now," allows library patrons to ask questions and get answers, in real time, on the Internet, from a live reference librarian. This means that a library patron with access to the Internet can link to a real librarian no matter what day of the week or time of day. Students and faculty of the New Hampshire Institute of Art, an academic consortium member, using the NHIA 24/7 link will be speaking to an Academic Librarian rather than a Public Librarian.
The New York Public Library has a "chat with a librarian" feature. This service is for NYPL patrons. There could be a nationally or regionally focused non-profit organization that would give individuals assistance in using digital libraries, provide search tips or more in-depth assistance. Inquiries could be made through chat, email or phone options. A reference librarian might be asked if there is a way to search a specific college website. The librarian could refer the person to Google's University Search. For persons requiring assistance beyond the reference librarian's level of service the person could be directed to a service such as Google Answers which brokers advice based on an online auction model.
AskNow provides information without charge from expert reference librarians at over 100 "brick-and-mortar" libraries throughout California -- 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Questions may also be answered by librarians in other states through 24/7 Reference.
Below are types of help services, as of November, 2004, provided by 21 public digital libraries. Legend: 1 = 800 number; 2 = local phone number; 3 = email; 4 = online chat; if American art titles = AA + number of titles (Only one library, the Denver Public Library, owned an American art eBook title)
New York Public Library: 2, 3, 4
The Ferguson Library (CT): 3
Michigan Library Consortium (MI): 3
Cherry Hill Public Library (NJ): 3
Broome County Public Library (NY); 3
White Plains Public Library (NY): 3
Las Vegas-Clark County Library District (NV): 3
Park Ridge Public Library (IL): 3
Camden County Library System (NJ): 3
Denver Public Library (CO); 3; AA = 1
SEO -- Southeastern Ohio Automation Consortium (OH): 3
Mid-Illinois Talking Book Center (IL): 3
Starkville Public Library System (MS): 3
Cuyahoga County Public Library (OH): 3
Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County (OH): 3
Wright Memorial Public Library (OH): 3
Burlington County Library System (NJ): 3
Metro Net Library Consortium (MI): 3
San Jose Public Library (CA): 3
King County Library System (WA): 3
Cleveland Public Library (OH): 3

A cost-effective eBooks cooperative lending or referral program

TFAO envisions support for an in-house American art eBooks lending program when sufficient titles become available. Rather than contracting with a vendor to provide a hosting and maintenance system, TFAO would prefer to:
-- financially contribute to eBook purchases or short-term circulation (rental) arrangements with another digital library along with a hosting arrangement allowing TFAO's library patrons to check-out titles it paid for, or
-- enter into an agreement with a library which has already acquired a collection of eBooks, allowing TFAO to list on its website specific titles held by the repository and also allowing TFAO's library patrons to borrow (interlibrary loan) the eBooks from the other library on a pass-through cost basis, [2] or
-- list eBooks available in other digital libraries and refer patrons to public or university libraries providing eBook inter-library loan arrangements, or
-- refer the patron to a vendor for direct rental of a title.



1. The Internet Archive, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization, is "...a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public." The Digital Archive catalogues, archives and provides digital versions of audio and moving images media as well as texts. As of November 2004 the moving images collection included 1,998 movie files, 554 episodes of the PBS series Computer Chronicles, 119 computer animations, 152 episodes of Net Café, and other movies. Because of the method by which TFAO's information is stored, TFAO and TFAO's predecessor pages posted since January 15, 1998 are archived via archive.org. (right: Internet Archive Wayback Machine logo courtesy Internet Archive)

2. Jens Vigen, of CERN and Kari Paulson, of eBooks Corporation authored a paper in PDF format titled E-books and interlibrary loan: An academic centric model for lending. The paper reports "on the initial scenarios for integrating electronic books in the interlibrary loan service, taking into account viable business models for all involved parties: authors, publishers, booksellers, libraries and end users."


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Links to sources of information outside of our web site are provided only as referrals for your further consideration. Please use due diligence in judging the quality of information contained in these and all other Web sites and in employing referenced consultants or vendors. Information from linked sources may be inaccurate or out of date. Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc neither recommends or endorses these referenced organizations. Although Traditional Fine Art Organization, Inc. includes links to other web sites, it takes no responsibility for the content or information contained on those other sites, nor exerts any editorial or other control over those other sites. For more information on evaluating web pages see Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc.'s General Resources section in Online Resources for Collectors and Students of Art History.

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