The unseen and unacceptable face of digital libraries

Adams, Anne and Blandford, Ann (2002). The unseen and unacceptable face of digital libraries. International Journal of Digital Libraries, 4(2) pp. 71–81.



The social and organizational aspects of digital libraries are often overlooked but this paper reviews how they can affect users' awareness and acceptance of digital libraries. An analysis of research conducted within two contrasting domains (Clinical and Academic) is presented which highlights issues of user interactions, work practices and the organizational social structures. The combined study comprises an analysis of 98 in-depth interviews and focus groups with lecturers, librarians and hospital clinicians. The importance of current and past roles of the library, and how users interacted with it, are revealed. Web-based digital libraries, while alleviating most library resource and interaction problems, require a change in librarians' and DL designers' roles and interaction patterns if they are to be implemented acceptably and effectively. Without this role change, users will at best be unaware of these digital resources and at worst feel threatened by them. The findings of this paper highlight the importance on DL design and implementation of the social context and supporting user communication (i.e. collaboration and consultation) in their information search and usage activities.

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