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Digital libraries in China: progress and prospects

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Purpose ‐ The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of Chinese digital library (DL) projects via the corresponding web sites, It also seeks to illustrate the current situation of DLs in China by offering insights into the digitization of resources, technologies and services. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A questionnaire was designed on the basis of the definition and features of digital libraries, together with the relevant library homepages and services. Overall, ten comprehensive universities and their library web sites, five public libraries and one science library were selected for comparison and analysis focusing on the content set-up, digital resources, navigation systems, mainstream modes, home-grown databases construction, user instruction training programs etc. Other issues including the virtual reference, service (VRS), academic information resource portal and integrated searching system or platform, personalized service, logon and authentication are also discussed. Findings ‐ All the selected libraries are operational digital libraries or prototypes. The electronic or digital resources are made up of two parts and the mainstream modes are service-oriented. Most have their own library information portals and provided integrated searching. However, there are some defects in term unification on some home pages, unified retrieval platform selection among various databases, and navigation system construction. Practical implications ‐ This paper presents a perspective of how DLs in China have been developing in the past few years. It also indicates the existing problems and difficulties and suggests the practical ways to optimize the application, standards, laws and rules, personal information environment, logon and authentication based on encryption. In addition, Open Access resources' utilization, conflict between copyright protection and resources sharing, and user interface customizing are addressed. Originality/value ‐ This paper describes the general status of Chinese digital library construction. It provides relevance for researchers and the public in China as well as other countries on the DL construction experiences, efforts and achievements. It also highlights the importance and value of sharing experience in DL construction.
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Keywords: China; Digital libraries; Resource management; User interfaces

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 10, 2009

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