How to Build a Digital Library reviews knowledge and tools to construct and maintain a digital library, regardless of the size or purpose. A resource for individuals, agencies, and institutions wishing to put this powerful tool to work in their burgeoning information treasuries.

The Second Edition reflects 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.

Key Features

  • Outlines the history of libraries on both traditional and digital
  • Written for both technical and non-technical audiences and covers the entire spectrum of media, including text, images, audio, video, and related XML standards
  • Web-enhanced with software documentation, color illustrations, full-text index, source code, and more


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.

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 orga


No. of pages:
© 2010
Morgan Kaufmann
Print ISBN:
Electronic ISBN:

About the authors

Ian Witten

Ian H. Witten is a professor of computer science at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. He directs the New Zealand Digital Library research project. His research interests include information retrieval, machine learning, text compression, and programming by demonstration. He received an MA in Mathematics from Cambridge University, England; an MSc in Computer Science from the University of Calgary, Canada; and a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Essex University, England. He is a fellow of the ACM and of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He has published widely on digital libraries, machine learning, text compression, hypertext, speech synthesis and signal processing, and computer typography. He has written several books, the latest being Managing Gigabytes (1999) and Data Mining (2000), both from Morgan Kaufmann.

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand

David Bainbridge

David Bainbridge is a senior lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. He holds a PhD in Optical Music Recognition from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand where he studied as a Commonwealth Scholar. Since moving to Waikato in 1996 he has continued to broadened his interest in digital media, while retaining a particular emphasis on music. An active member of the New Zealand Digital Library project, he manages the group's digital music library, Meldex, and has collaborated with several United Nations Agencies, the BBC and various public libraries. David has also worked as a research engineer for Thorn EMI in the area of photo-realistic imaging and graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1991 as the class medalist in Computer Science.

David Nichols

Is a senior lecturer, specializes in the areas of human-computer interaction, open source software and digital library education.


"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.