Tech Talks Presentation by Nathan Hall, March 9, 2011
Digital libraries are difficult to evaluate, in part because they are still evolving as systems. Differences between digital library efforts have hampered widespread scalability of evaluation methods, with many researchers still struggling to even define what a digital library is, and others struggling to determine why digital libraries need different evaluation tools than any other aspect of library collections and services.
In spite of the diffusion of new digital technologies, libraries still exist to provide a community with access to information, but interaction between society and technology has transformed with the advent of new tools for finding and using information. Evaluation methods for these new technologies are still catching up. As complex sociotechnical systems, effective digital libraries require consistent attention to a variety of social, organizational, administrative, and technical concerns, with the ultimate goal for evaluation being to determine how digital libraries transform research, education, learning, and living.
While digital collections play an increasingly vital role in academic libraries, there still is no widely accepted method to evaluate their impact or benefit to their institution, as current evaluation methods in use only review certain aspects of digital libraries, such as usability, or retrieval. In this Tech Talk, Librarian Nathan Hall discusses a potential evaluation model that measures how effectively an academic digital library supports the needs of local institutions.
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About the Author: Librarian Nathan Hall is the Environmental Science Digital Library Coordinator for the UNT Libraries' Digital Libraries Division.