While many libraries, both public and academic, have implemented digital resources for their patrons in bits and pieces, I would argue that now is the time for libraries to work on putting together a comprehensive digital branch approach, offering millions of books, millions of newspapers and magazines, and open acess 24/7.
Given the facts of mass digitization of titles, free-to-use API’s, and social sharing of resources, the digital library branch is a reality that can be implemented. Here’s how….
Every library needs a place to start, so our digital branch will be created on a branch of the current library web site or freely created with resources such as Google Sites or Weebly. Using graphics from the main library site or recreating them from open-source, public domain photos and artwork, it would take only a short time to get going.
Rounding out the top three resources, we could also implement the ManyBooks catalog, Feedbooks catalog and others. Highlighting these selections, we bring in additional illustrations and book covers through the use of the Google Book Bar and embed options from the Internet Archive. If our digital collections have a special focus, then inserting the actual titles in our site through Google Books could help bring to attention special collections such as science fair, genealogy and/or gov. document titles.
But our library is more than historical fiction and bestsellers, we should also implement newspaper and magazine resources. First up for this would be the Google News Archive. While the resources are small, there are lots of ways to incorporate this into our branch. Supplementing this, we could make available singular titles such as the Sports Illustrated Archive (you knew about this right?), People Magazine and even Time. I didn’t mention the magazines now available on Google Books, but they certainly should be there.
The end results? We’ve got our digital branch up and running in a matter of a few weeks. Is this a perfect solution? Nope…but it’s a start! Rather than being locked into a particular vendor’s ebook implementation or ILS solution, we have an open-idea, low cost, digital library branch that serves our existing patrons and new patrons worldwide. Our digital library costs next to nothing, uses little staff and is open 24/7. Thoughts? Has this already been done for your local library? Is this a redundant idea? Let me know in the comments below……
More resources to consider:
Image Source: Tagxedo