How to Build a Digital Library


  • Ian Witten, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.
  • David Bainbridge
  • David Nichols

How to Build a Digital Library is the only book that offers all the knowledge and tools needed to construct and maintain a digital library, regardless of the size or purpose. It is the perfectly self-contained resource for individuals, agencies, and institutions wishing to put this powerful tool to work in their burgeoning information treasuries. The Second Edition reflects new developments in the field as well as in the Greenstone Digital Library open source software. In Part I, the authors have added an entire new chapter on user groups, user support, collaborative browsing, user contributions, and so on. There is also new material on content-based queries, map-based queries, cross-media queries. There is an increased emphasis placed on multimedia by adding a "digitizing" section to each major media type. A new chapter has also been added on "internationalization,"  which will address Unicode standards, multi-language interfaces and collections, and issues with non-European languages (Chinese, Hindi, etc.). Part II, the software tools section, has been completely rewritten to reflect the new developments in Greenstone Digital Library Software, an internationally popular open source software tool with a comprehensive graphical facility for creating and maintaining digital libraries. As with the First Edition, a web site, implemented as a digital library, will accompany the book and provide access to color versions of all figures, two online appendices, a full-text sentence-level index, and an automatically generated glossary of acronyms and their definitions. In addition, demonstration digital library collections will be included to demonstrate particular points in the book. to access the online content please visit,

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Librarians, digital librarians, metadata librarians, special collections librarians, institutional repository managers, publications managers, documentation managers, library IT support personnel, and Library and Information Science faculty/students.


Book information

  • Published: October 2009
  • ISBN: 978-0-12-374857-7


"This book provides broad coverage of related work in the field. That is handy, since there is a large international community working on DLs."-- Edward A. Fox, Director, Digital Library Research Laboratory, Blacksburg, VA

"These chapters (along with the others) are well written and fully illustrated by screen shots and other examples, making the presentation of the technical content very effective.... [T]his is a very worthwhile addition to the literature of digital libraries"-- Thomas D. Wilson, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield, Visiting Professor at Leeds University Business School, Visiting Professor at the University of Boras, Sweden.

Table of Contents

Part 1 Principles and Practices

Chapter 1 Orientation: The world of digital libraries

Example One: Supporting Human Development

Example Two: Pushing on the Frontiers of Science

Example Three: Preserving a Traditional Culture

Example Four: Exploring Popular Music

1.1 Libraries and Digital Libraries

1.2 The Changing Face of Libraries

1.3 Searching for Sophocles

1.4 Digital Libraries in Developing Countries  

1.5 The Pen is Mighty: Wield it Wisely

1.6 Planning a Digital Library

1.7 Implementing a Digital library: The Greenstone Software

1.8 Notes and Sources

Chapter 2 People in Digital Libraries

2.1 Roles  

2.2 Identity

2.3 Help and User Support Services

2.4 Working with Digital Collections

2.5 User Contributions

2.6 Notes and Sources

Chapter 3 Presentation: User Interfaces

3.1 Presenting Textual Documents

3.2 Presenting Multimedia Documents

3.3 Document Surrogates

3.4 Searching

3.5 Metadata Browsing

3.6 Putting It All Together

3.7 Notes and Sources

Chapter 4 Textual documents: The raw material

4.1 Representing Textual Documents

4.2 Textual Images

4.3 Web Documents: HTML and XML

4.4 Presenting Web Documents: CSS and XSL

4.5 Page Description Languages: PostScript and PDF

4.6 Word-Processor Documents

4.7 Other Documents

4.8 Notes and Sources

Chapter 5 Multimedia: More raw material

5.1 Introducing Compression and Transforms

5.2 Audio

5.3 Images

5.4 Video

5.5 Rich media

5.6 Music

5.7 Notes and sources

Chapter 6 Metadata: Elements of organization

6.1 Characteristics of Metadata

6.2 Bibliographic Metadata

6.3 Metadata for Multimedia

6.4 Metadata for Compound Objects

6.5 Metadata Quality

6.6 Extracting Metadata

6.7 Notes and Sources

Chapter 7 Interoperability: Protocols and services

7.1 Z39.50 Protocol

7.2 Open Archives Initiative

7.3 Object Identification

7.4 Web Services

7.5 Authentication and security

7.6 DSpace and Fedora

7.7 Notes and sources

Chapter 8 Internationalization: The global challenge

8.1 Multilingual Interfaces and Documents

8.2 Unicode

8.3 Hindi and Indic scripts

8.4 Word Segmentation and Sorting

8.5 Notes and Sources

Chapter 9 Visions: Future, past, and present

9.1 Libraries of the Future

9.2 Preserving the Past

9.3 Trends in Digital Libraries

9.4 Digital Libraries for Oral Cultures

9.5 Notes and Sources


Chapter 10 Building collections

10.1 The Reader’s Interface

10.2 The Librarian Interface

10.3 Working with Documents

10.4 Formatting

10.5 Dealing with Metadata

10.6 Non-Textual Documents

10.7 Learning More

Chapter 11 Operating and interoperating

11.1 Inside Greenstone

11.2 Operational Aspects

11.3 Command-Line Operation

11.4 Under the Hood *

11.5 Interoperating

11.6 Distributed Operation

11.7 Large-Scale Usage

Chapter 12 Design patterns for advanced user interfaces

12.1 Format Statements and Macros

12.2 Design Patterns

12.3 The Greenstone Research Project