Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Rise of Huge Online Digital Library Portals

The newly implemented Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is one of hundreds of digital libraries and digital library portals popping up all over the Web. One of the significant partners of the DPLA is the Mountain West Digital Library described as follows on its website:
The Mountain West Digital Library is a central search portal for digital collections about the Mountain West region. We provide free access to over 700,000 resources from universities, colleges, public libraries, museums, historical societies, and government agencies, counties, and municipalities in Utah, Nevada, and other parts of the U.S. West.
 Of course there are some truly gigantic collections such as the National Library of Australia's Trove website with over 338 million online resources and with millions more. The amount of online content is overwhelming. Here are a just few of the hundreds of portals coming online:

The African Online Digital Library (AODL) is a portal to multimedia collections about Africa. MATRIX, working in cooperation with the African Studies Center at Michigan State University, is partnering with universities and cultural heritage organizations in Africa to build this resource. Plans are underway to add digital tools in order to enable scholars to work with and add to these materials.

The California Digital Library, In partnership with the UC libraries, has continually broken new ground by developing systems linking its users to the vast print and online collections within UC and beyond. Building on the foundations of the Melvyl Catalog, and has developed one of the largest online library catalogs in the country.

The British Library Online Gallery has over 30,000 items from their collections including hundreds of historical maps.
British History Online is a digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles. Created by the Institute of Historical Research and the History of Parliament Trust, it aims to support academic and personal users around the world in their learning, teaching and research.

The Cornell University Library, Windows on the Past, is an extensive aggregate of the University's online collections. 

The European Library is Designed to meet the needs of the research community worldwide, their online portal offers quick and easy access to the collections of the 48 National Libraries of Europe and leading European Research Libraries. Users can cross-search and reuse over 16,696,516 digital items and 115,623,713 bibliographic records.

We even have local digital library portals such as the Greater Phoenix Digital Library. It is likely that there is a digital library portal in existence or being started in your own area. Do a Google search on "digital library" and include your local city or county name. For example, searching in Utah, I find the Pioneer, Utah's Online Library

Right now, the digital library concept is evolving rapidly. There are online services with different methods of logging in, subscribing, or checking out books online. One of the most used services is With more than 1,000,000 titles from 1,000+ publishers, OverDrive claims to host the largest digital library catalog of eBooks, audiobooks, music and video in the world. But also makes the same claim. But whatever, there are more and more books and materials coming online every day. 

Unfortunately for the user, the different services all have a complicated set of use restrictions and methods for viewing or checking out materials. It may take you some time to figure out how to use some of these services. We recently found ourselves driving back and forth to Utah and discovered that we could download audio books from our local library to listen as we drove. If we ran out of books, we could check the one's read back into the library and check out more, even while we were in Utah. 

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