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Overview: Digital Libraries: By Library Type

From the smallest school libraries to the largest academic and public libraries, digital collections and services are becoming the norm across the United States.

On this page, you'll find examples of digital libraries within the traditional library types: academic libraries, public libraries, school libraries, and special libraries. Although not libraries, digital repositories are often under the umbrella of an institution's library.


Academic Libraries

“The network and digital technologies are now central to academic enterprise. Research, learning, and knowledge-creation practices are enacted in technology environments and are inseparable from them. This has major consequences. It dramatically reduces interaction costs, making new forms of collaboration and service provision possible. Think of shared research infrastructure in the sciences, for example. Think of the emergence of network-level information and workflow hubs that influence research and learning practices (Google Scholar, Wikipedia, Khan Academy, SSRN, ResearchGate, Amazon, GitHub, Galaxy Zoo, and others). As more of the research and learning life cycle is carried out in a digital environment, the points of intersection with learners and researchers multiply, and the opportunities to provide support for creation and curation grow… As work is increasingly carried out in digital environments, activities leave a data trace, which can be aggregated and mined to provide analytics that may be used to support a variety of goals (student retention, resource usage metrics, and more). Together these trends make it important for libraries to think about their own systems and services in ways that interconnect with the communication and publishing mechanisms that are common on the Web. They also need to more actively support resource creation, as well as curation and consumption” (Dempsey, 2015, 12).

Academic libraries often house a variety of digital collections focusing on art, history, scholarly communications, data, grey literature, open access journals, and much more.

Digital Library Spotlight
The IUPUI University Library houses the Center for Digital Scholarship. This center contains a variety of collections including cultural heritage, IUPUI ScholarWorks, IUPUI DataWorks, Theses & Dissertations, and Open Access Journals. Like many academic libraries, their digital collections cover a range of areas.

Explore what's happening in school and academic libraries.

Academic Libraries: Digital libraries, Digital Collections, and Digital Services

Academic Library Websites

These website provide the entry page to academic library websites.

forensicsDigital Collection Spotlight

Bass Field Notes Collection
from the University of Tennessee Knoxville Special Collection focuses on forensic anthropology.

Contents: This collection focuses how forensic anthropology is used to resolve medical and criminal cases. It specifically contains field notes and other artifacts from investigations involving body decomposition.

Connections: Students love “real world” applications of science such as CSI (Crime Scene Investigation). Although some students might find the topic “gross”, others will love diving into the primary sources materials related to science. Use the information at this website to create your own library CSI project.

Featured Digital Objects:
Arrows Used in a Study https://goo.gl/SWxXf4
Sketch of Cliff https://goo.gl/cTPr7a
To visit the collection, go to https://digital.lib.utk.edu/collections/basscollection.

Public Libraries

Explore what's happening at public libraries.

Large Public Libraries with Digital Collections

Small and Medium Sized Public Libraries with Digital Collection

Public Library Websites

These links provide the entry page to the library website.

Good examples of libraries with both electronic resources and digital collections

School Libraries

Many schools develop digital collections. A few examples are listed below.

School Library Digital Collections

School Library Websites

Special Libraries

From medical libraries to corporate libraries, many special libraries maintain useful digital collections. Collections often focus on particular themes. For instance, there are hundreds of digital collections related to the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Government Libraries

Special Collections

Special Library Websites

nlmDigital Collection Spotlight

’s online resources include biomedical books, still images, videos, and more.

Contents: The resources can be accessed by collection, subject, author, title, format, language, genre, or date.

Connections: From posters to videos, digital objects can bring science topics to life for library users. Connecting medicine and history is an effective way to draw user interest to both science and history. Ask students to create a timeline of primary source documents tracing a topic such as cholera through history. Or, search for posters on a particular topic such as AIDS, malaria, or yellow fever and trace how the medical communications change over time.

Featured Digital Objects:
Cholera - https://goo.gl/yICgJn
Tropical Disease - https://goo.gl/OVW1G9
Public Health & War - https://goo.gl/A3xif8
Moving Pictures - https://goo.gl/FtFHgM
To visit the collection, https://collections.nlm.nih.gov/.

Digital Repositories

Although not digital libraries on their own, digital repositories are collections and services often under the umbrella of the library. Some examples are listed below.

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