The UNESCO-backed World Digital Library initiative gives an idea through a short promo video, of what the user experience of such a digital library could be like:
(NB: Cf. the site for the UNESCO-backed global initiative here, the Project Gutenberg archive here, an initiative in Michigan here, the University of California California Digital Library here, the digital library of India here, and a National Higher Education Commission initiative in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, here. The Kyoto University initiative, from 1997 on, has some useful pointers for design and development of a system. Brewster Kahle's TED Talk may give useful perspectives.)
|The Kyoto University Digital Library, c. 2000|
A more comprehensive overview can be seen from a D-Library Magazine article on the Digital Library Manifesto, by Donatella Castelli et al:
|Architecture of a Digital Library (D-Lib Magazine, fair use [Reference model site, here])|
For instance, for our purposes, the Zenas Gerig Library at JTS in Jamaica -- cf case study report here -- has solid holdings, and a good staff in an excellent facility, with a handy fibre optic Internet link. (I wish to convey condolences to the family of this pioneer of theology education in our region, on his recent passing. Thank God for him, and for his life's work in the region as a missionary educator, that we are discussing building upon!)
1 --> Such a library could easily base its holdings on major formats such as PDF and EPUB, which are cross-platform. Already, Adobe advertises its Content Server 4 package as just this, for eBook publishers and lending libraries. (Depending, other formats could be used as well.)
2 --> Through a package like this, encrypted copies of ebooks can be sent over the Internet, with a time-stamped digital right. After the loan period, the book in effect evaporates, much as the Netflix movie renting service does with movies.
3 --> Users could sign up with the service, and pay a subscription to access lending materials, under reasonable terms of reference. Students -- seminary, college and university -- would be at one level, with certain privileges.
4 --> Authenticated teachers and academic staff at another level, Pastors, and general lay people could become subscribers. All with appropriate terms and conditions. (Perhaps, too, funding partners might be willing to cover some capital costs and expenses and create endowments so that some levels could be free to users.)
5 --> Special access could be created for high school students and youth, with special holdings for first and second chance secondary education, bridging studies, and the Community College/Associate degree level, as well as technical and vocational education and training.
6 --> Major reference works, issues and apologetics materials could also be made available.
7 --> Periodicals and journals could be made available, with subscription access to sources like EBSO for those at suitable levels.
8 --> Part of the borrowing rights should include a limited right to copy and use resources under the fair use doctrine. Say, a right to electronically copy up to 10 pages or 5 % of a work, whichever is smaller. (Or whatever property rights lawyers will say is enough.)
9 --> It strikes me that it would be nice to have a facility to upgrade from loan to purchase as an eBook.
10 --> Similarly, a facility to do a print on demand paper copy for fee as this becomes available. (For education purposes, something like the risograph copy-duplicator system recently discussed in the KF blog CF series here, could be used to do class or course-sized lots, up to runs of 5,000.)
11 --> Portals to the Gutenberg archive and the like may be helpful.
12 --> I would of course include access to the free Bible Study software such as The Word or e-Sword etc. (Cf. my Christmas 2008 post on e-Sword, here. Still very good, though I have gravitated more to The Word. Also, cf. the resources for the draft AA CCS course in development, NCSTS, here.)
13 --> It may be useful to have a mall of services, courses and books etc accessible as a portal also.
14 --> The possibility of developing an electronic publisher (with print on demand capacity) should be considered.
15 --> And more.