Digital libraries, part 2

Yesterday I spent time thinking about the competition aspect of digital libraries and their decisions for web design. Today I’d like to explore the relationships between the fields of digital librarianship and journalism a little more in depth.

The professional I interviewed was an assignment editor at a newspaper, where her primary duties involved coordinating the many different parts that went into publishing the paper each day. Although there are various genres of publishing that each requires its own shorthand and depth of knowledge, the conversation revealed both the print publishing done through a newspaper and electronic publishing performed by digital libraries share coordination and communication needs.

At the newspaper, my interviewee said she worked with editors, designers, photographers, “pulling together stakeholders with varying agendas, specialties, etc.” She added, “With digital libraries, it’s programmers, archivists, catalogers, metadata librarians,” whose work she coordinates to deliver the digital collections to the end user. Both genres of publishing have their users and audiences to serve, and both groups seem to include community members as well as the general public who accesses the content via the World Wide Web.

Through our conversation, we discovered her digital library has made more marketing efforts thanks to the influence of her previous field as well. “We try to peg things to anniversaries,” she said. “We’re more attune to marketing than libraries traditionally have been.” Some of this I have witnessed as an end user myself. I follow the Twitter profile of the UI Libraries and enjoyed a link they tweeted to celebrate The University of Iowa’s commencement weekend this past May. I linked to the digital photo on another social media site and continued to spread the word and relevance of the collection.

I access Twitter via my smartphone and saw the image on a mobile device before seeing it on a laptop or desktop. Both publishing genres must adapt to the mobile and tablet market to thrive. Newspapers have already adapted to electronic publishing for their own purposes, and digital libraries must begin to adapt special programming for mobile phone and tablet displays. Digital library professionals must keep abreast of the latest news about content delivery devices, as well as the power struggles between technology and design behemoths like Apple and Adobe. Adobe Flash is an industry standard for delivering video content; the Iowa Digital Library is only one of many website hosts that must change its video delivery to be able to serve the market using iPhones and iPads, which don’t support Flash in Apple’s Safari mobile browser.

Throughout our conversation, I found more and more parallels between traditional field of journalism and digital publishing that indicated the two fields are anything but estranged siblings. I’m interested in developing these comparisons further soon.

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