Digital resources

BY Dr Tanveer Haider Naqvi

AT present technology is dominating all spheres of human activity and fusion of electronic, computer and communication technology not only gave birth to electronic publishing, but also revolutionised the world of digital publication.

Therefore, it has become apparent that mostly publishers are publishing their products in digital format and the scope of available digital information opens the prospect of bringing our specific teaching, learning, and research needs to our doorstep, or more specifically, to our desktop.

The challenge is to choose and maintain a broad range of digital resources from a rapidly growing array of products in the face of continued financial restraint and technological advancement.

To handle financial and technological issues, libraries such as university, college libraries, research and special libraries that have become the member of Fiji Library Consortium (FLC) under the banner of Fiji National University (FNU).

In 2013, FLC was formed with support from Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL), a not-for-profit organisation that negotiates with publishers/vendors to provide access to a wide range of prominent digital resources of global knowledge not only in developing but also in transition economy countries of Asia Pacific, Africa, Europe and Latin America.

The libraries in Fiji, especially university libraries, are striving to build their digital library and institutional repository so that they can manage their subscribed electronic and online databases of digital resources as well as their created/converted digital resources using digital publishing tools or born digital resources that suit a digital library and repository.

A digital library recognises not only a very significant component for accessing global knowledge but also an environment that comprises management tools, collections, services, and users for creation, dissemination, use, and preservation of knowledge.

In addition, it is also constituted as a network of thousands networks of subscribed digital resources that cater for a broad range of research and teaching needs.

Since 2011, the vast development of digital resources have started for creating an accessible network of electronic and online databases from renowned publishers consisting of full text scholarly journals, e-books, trade journals, magazines, conference proceedings, reports, case studies, videos, etc.

It now has more than 60 electronic and online databases that are accessible locally and remotely (EZ Proxy) via EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) one-search platform on the FNU library website. FNU library also brings digital resources through British Library Document Delivery Services (BLDDS) to fulfil teaching, learning and research needs.

On the other hand, research is one of the core functions, not only for a tertiary institution, but also for associated community as faculty members, researchers, and students.

The faculty members and research staff, they are acknowledged for their research work intellectually (when their research work is cited in other researches as Google scholar/citation is the best example in this era of internet) and financially (when a researcher is awarded research incentives and royalty for publication). But the biggest challenge is to collect, store, organise, and disseminate the publications for creating further value and innovation.

To manage their intellectual products for the member community, digital or institutional repository/archive is created by using software such as Greenstone, DSpace, Eprints, Fedora, etc.

In a university environment, intellectual products such as research articles, research reports, industrial attachment research projects, conference papers, theses and dissertations from Masters Degree and PhD programs, images, photographs, audio, video, etc. are produced.

These are either created/converted into digital format using digital publishing tools or born digital resources and organised using metadata such as Dublin core, etc for providing easy access to member community both within and outside of university.

Metadata, data about data, also types of descriptive information applied to a digital spatial file. The function of metadata is to standardise the structure and content of indexing or cataloguing information.

Apart from this, a number of legitimate issues such as legal (digital rights, intellectual property rights, copyrights, licensing, etc) organisational, economic, and social, related to digital library and institutional repository must be addressed before looking for their advantages in teaching and research.

Finally, digital library and institutional repository act as catalysts in transforming society to a “paperless society”, enhancing university visibility and profile, and leading in terms of embracing a “greener” and environment friendly university as well as initiating fight against climate change.

*Dr Tanveer Haider Naqvi is the deputy university librarian under the Department of Library Services at the Fiji National University. The views expressed are his and not that of this newspaper. For comments or suggestions, email DUL@fnu.ac.fj

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