Digital Library


Digital Library

Background, aims and intended audience of the chosen collections

The first digital library chosen is The theme is Ethics. The collection identified from this library is Business Ethics. This collection contains resources regarding the major themes in Business as well as Economic Ethics. The initial effort of resources gathering of this collection was carried out in India (Globethics 2013). The collection has been broken down into several categories forming a classification tree. It is listed as BC Business Ethics Special Collection, and the following categories come below it: BC1 Reference Works, BC2 Institutional Documents, BC3 Cross-Thematic Topics, BC4 Business Ethics/CSR Themes, BC5 Economic Ethics Themes, BC6 Business and Economics Ethics Teaching, BC7 Other. The aim of the collection is to promote ethical action in businesses. The intended audience of this collection are people as well as institutions from both developing and middle-income countries. The aim is to facilitate more access to knowledge resources in the field/area of applied ethics. It aims to ensure that people in South America, Asia and Africa have access to up to date and good quality knowledge resources (Globethics 2013).

The second digital library chosen is The theme is Ethics and the collection is Business Ethics. This collection contains several electronic resources such as books and journals on the subject of Business Ethics. Some of the books in this collection include Higher Education and Business Standards, and Morals in Trade and Commerce. The intended audience of this collection include business leaders, students undertaking business related courses, as well as individuals engaging in trade and commerce (Project Gutenberg 2013). Generally, understanding business ethics will help this intended audience to adhere to moral and ethical standards with regard to their business practices, actions and decisions. The third digital library is Jersey City Free Public Library Digital Library (JCFPL Digital Library). Under the theme of Ethics, the collection identified is Ethics, Social Usages and Etiquette. The collection is aimed at providing institutions, individuals, students and the residents of Jersey City at large, with the relevant information on business ethics in order to encourage ethical and moral business practices (JCFPL Digital Library 2013). The collection is well supplied with journals, periodicals and ebooks that give the thought of the best writers on the business ethics questions now under earnest discussion.

The fourth digital library chosen is Lancashire County Council Digital Library (LCC Digital Library). The theme is ethics and the collection identified is Ethics. In this digital library, the collection contains numerous resources such as eBooks, audio books, journals and periodicals regarding the subject of ethics. The aim of the collection is to provide accessibility to an extensive range of materials on the subject of ethics, and the intended audiences include organizations, businesses and the residents of Lancashire County in the United Kingdom (LCC Digital Library 2013).

Comparative assessment

With regard to the information architectures, usability and user engagement features of the collections from these four digital libraries –,, JCFPL Digital Library and LCC Digital Library – some differences and similarities are visible and easily identifiable. In all the digital libraries, the collections and all the materials including ebooks, journals and periodicals are arranged alphabetically making it easy for the user to find the material that he/she is looking for. All the digital libraries have several essential features such as ease of learning by the user, high speed of user task performance and searching for resources takes minimal time. Moreover, searching for resources in all the libraries is a pleasant and rewarding experience.

They also have a search facility with keyword search to ensure quick retrieval of data, and they provide access to eBooks and eJournals. In addition, they provide web-based user interface with login facilities, and allow several clients to access the CDs at the same time. They also allow the users to send their digitized content to the site/library administrator, which can be later stored after verification. Furthermore, the digital libraries provide accessibility to much richer content in a more ordered and structured manner. For instance, a user can easily move from one collection/category to another, and from one category to a particular sub-category. They also provide very user-friendly interfaces and give clickable access to their resources.

A brief overview of the sites chosen for analysis is a global ethics network based in Geneva, Switzerland, with a worldwide Board of Foundation of eminent people. It provides an electronic platform to facilitate ethical action and reflection using its key instrument, the internet site The goal/aim of institution is to ensure that everyone in all parts of the world is empowered to reflect and also to act on ethical issues (Globethics 2013). Thus, the institutional backer,, developed its digital library, the leading worldwide digital library on ethics to ensure access to knowledge resources in applied ethics. The backing institution undertook this initiative in order to ensure that people – particularly in Africa, Latin America and Asia – have access to high quality and up to date knowledge resources (Globethics 2013).

The institution’s founding conviction was that more equal access to knowledge resources in the area of applied ethics would enable people, as well as institutions from both developing and transition countries to become more audible and visible in the global discourse on ethics. The digital library is free to use, and people only need to register for free as participants on the website. The software platform used is Greenstone Digital Library Software, which has several features such as being open source, provides collection categorical/topical browsing and indexing, and provides full-text search and retrieval (Globethics 2013). digital library has the backing of Project Gutenberg, which is a volunteer effort that aims at digitizing and archiving cultural works in order to promote both the creation and distribution of electronic books – eBooks (Project Gutenberg 2013). A vast majority of items in project Gutenberg’s collection are the full texts of public domain books. The project aims at making these books free, in open long lasting formats. The books could be used on roughly any computer. The releases are often in plain text, although other formats are included for instance HTML. Many of the releases are in English, but several non-English works are also available. Project Gutenberg has more than 40,000 items in its collection in the digital library (Project Gutenberg 2013).

Moreover, the goal of Project Gutenberg institution is to encourage and support the voluntary creation as well as distribution of eBooks. It houses collection of collections of eBooks from other voluntary organizations. Simply put, the purpose of Project Gutenberg institution using its digital library is to encourage and support the creation as well as distribution of eBooks. The main audience of this site includes students and the multi-lingual general population who mainly are English, French, Dutch, Chinese, German, Finnish, Portuguese and Hispanic speakers. The software platform used by is Greenstone2 digital library software. Some of the advantages of this software include being multiplatform, multilingual, and highly configurable. Moreover, it can build and run the existing collections without any modification (Barnes 2003).

JCFP Digital Library is supported by the City of Jersey in New Jersey, United States. Serving the Second largest city in the state of New Jersey, Jersey City Free Public Library system provides access to a diversified collection of over 400,000 pieces of electronic resources that address the needs of the multicultural clientele of the City’s 249, 087 population. The online digital library was introduced in 2002 (JCFP Digital Library 2013). The online catalog allows users to search the collection from the comfort of their homes or office as well as from a growing number of onsite computer terminals. The audience of this digital library comprises the Jersey City community and provides access to a diversified audiovisual and electronic resources designed to help residents of Jersey City. The main aims of the library include addressing the educational needs of Jersey City residents, finding answers on a wide array of subjects, locating and evaluating information, and satisfying their need and interest for current popular materials and topics. JCFPL Digital Library uses the Greenstone Digital Library Software, version 2.30 (JCFP Digital Library 2013).

Lancashire County Council Digital Library (LCC Digital Library) site generally contains two other sub-libraries. The first one is the eBook and audio download library, which is a collection of non-fiction and fiction titles accessible to only the registered members who have a Lancashire County postcode to download anywhere and anytime. The other one is the online reference library, and this is a selection of websites chosen, maintained and organized by the library professionals in order to answer questions of the user. This digital library has the backing of Lancashire County Council, and runs on the Libsoft Digital Library Software. Some of the advantages that come with this particular software include being more user-friendly, high data security, search result can sort with all fields and has multi-user facility (LCC Digital Library 2013).

Evaluation of the information architecture of the sites in relation to chosen heuristics

It is imperative for a digital library system to have an information architecture that is designed to meet the needs of both the learners and educators. Jordan (2006) stated that the chief driver for the information architecture of an educational digital library is typically to facilitate a better way to accommodate the task of retrieving learning resources that can be re-used for learning. Evaluating the information architecture of the four digital library sites will be based on the following factors: Information organization, information labeling, information navigation and information search. Information organization – According to Kresh (2007), this entails a digital library having a personal collection or learning portfolio that keeps track of resources found by a user, not necessarily for convenience, but in order to help the user/learner in conceptualizing the resources in a way that is conducive to individual learning. It is essentially a user’s profile page that shows/stores the resources he/she has found. Such a learning portfolio is not only a radiant experience, but also a focal point for organizing material. and LCC Digital Library have this unique and important feature of information organization. To effectively use this feature, these two digital libraries provide a signup/login facility, which re-directs the user to their profile pages. When the user searches and finds the relevant materials in the digital library, they are saved in his/her profile page and the next time they log into the system, they will still find those same materials in their portfolio/profile page. This is very important since the user will not have to search for those materials again. This crucial feature of information organization has been overlooked by Project Gutenberg in its digital library, and also by JCFPL Digital Library. These two digital libraries only allow the user to search for resources, but does not keep track of the materials found and the next time he/she visits the site, he/she will have to search for the materials again.

According to Lesk (2005), the second factor considered in evaluating information architecture is Information Search. It is very essential for digital libraries to have a search facility that aids in finding relevant learning resources. The search should be optimized to meet the knowledge, interests, abilities, understanding and experiences of the users in their roles as learners. It is also important that the search mechanism be categorized into two modes of search, Search and Advanced Search, where the former connotes usefulness to novice users of the digital library, whilst the latter connotes to advanced users. This will differentiate the search mechanisms in terms of aiding the users find resources with potentially more relevance and bearing to their knowledge, education levels and experience (Lesk 2005).

With regard to the four digital libraries, they all have the search feature in their sites. for instance allows the user to input the keyword when searching for a book catalog or a website. LCC Digital Library also has this search feature. In its A to Z feature, it also allows the user to search for material by using its first letter and this makes it easy to find and retrieve resources. As much as all the four digital libraries have the Search facility, none has the Advanced Search feature that would have been more relevant to advanced users.

The third important factor is information navigation (Reese and Banarjee 2008). This is indispensable to the success of the user’s experience to the digital library. Navigation of the digital library is possibly the most important part of the site. Using a consistent navigation system from one page to another helps the visitor’s learn the site navigation system. If users of the digital library find it difficult to navigate through the site, they will quickly leave. A digital library needs to have a purposeful and functional navigation layout. Important navigation elements include navigation bar, menus, login boxes, internal links and external links (Reese and Banarjee 2008). The navigation system should be good in order to enable the users have an easy time when they visit the website. For effective information navigation, the site’s navigation system has to be consistent throughout the website, and the main navigation links be kept together to make it easier for visitors to get to the main areas of the site (Zhang and Gourley 2008). With regard to the four digital libraries, information navigation has been done satisfactorily and a visitor to any of the sites will find it easy to navigate around and search for materials.

The fourth important factor to consider during evaluation of information architecture of the sites is information labeling, as Barnes (2003) pointed out. It is imperative to have meaningful and accurate labels for the content areas of the digital library. Users are clicking on words and so the words need to make sense. Typically, users expect to find something if they were to click on a particular button or link, and as such, the labels should be succinct – not more than 3 words long, clear-cut and consistent with the desired tone. Moreover, information labeling is essential since users hope to find information quickly and do not want to have to interpret the meaning of the links or read through the whole sentence. Category names for instance, should be refined into more intuitive labels (Lesk 2005). With regard to the four digital libraries, information labeling has been done adequately. for instance has used labels such as Search, Terms of Use, Bookmarks and Donate. LCC Digital Library has labels such as A to Z, Webpage feedback.

Summative usability evaluation report, based on research evidence 

Kresh (2007) stated that usability of a digital library system is simply the ease of use and learnability. Usability evaluation report helps to highlight the areas where one would expect the users/visitors to experience problems, and provide a thorough analysis of the site’s usability weaknesses and strengths. Performance categories that are used to evaluate the sites’ performance are design, page layout, navigation, content and site features. In addition, evaluations will be based on effectiveness, reliability, efficiency and compliance.  Interface design of the digital libraries involves the development of graphics and interactive processes which drive user experience (Zhang and Gourley 2008). Effective interface design translates to increased usage and greater user satisfaction. All the four digital libraries have excellent interface design and this makes the users to enjoy the sites.

The navigation scheme and features of a digital library should allow users/visitors to access resources effectively and efficiently (Jordan 2006). The navigation scheme of the four digital libraries are sufficient to enable effective and efficient access of resources. Because of this, users can easily find resources. Page Layout – all the web pages have to be structured for ease of comprehension. The four digital libraries have well-structured web pages making the user to easily understand. Site Content provides the information required by users/visitors.  The four digital libraries have their own well-defined audiences and as such, they provide content that is relevant and pertinent to them. Site features/technology – The users’ software, hardware and speed of connection to the internet may impose some constraints on the digital libraries.

The main strengths and weaknesses of the digital libraries include the following.; Strengths – Quick and easy to read, and covers wide range of topics in its content. Weakness – Resources listed are immense, and it would be easy to get lost.; Strength – Very thorough and well designed, Weakness – Only relevant if one is looking for publications from this particular entity relating to applied ethics. LCC Digital Library; Strength – User-Friendly and easy to navigate, and has up to date resources. Weakness – The site has little content and is only relevant to people of Lancashire County in the United Kingdom. JCFPL Digital Library; Strength – Website is constantly updated and has an event calendar and ways to get involved. Weakness – The website is not attractive and seems devoid of a lot of content, only relevant to people of Jersey City in New Jersey, United States.

An evaluation of the user participation features of the site 

Generally, a high quality digital library website will attract more visitors and more spirited participation from users. In turn, this can make the site grow faster. Since this are digital web-based libraries, the main user participation features include the ability to allow the user to download material from the site, allow the users to send their digitized content to the site/library administrator, and allow users to browse and search for resources. User registration and sign-up is also another user-participation feature (Reese and Banarjee 2008). Moreover, another participation feature is enabling the user to post a comment/feedback to the administrator, or to report any problems. Each of the four digital libraries has these user-participation features, except LCC Digital Library which does not allow users to send their digitized content to the site/library administrator and thereby, contribute to the site’s content. has Book search, Browse catalog and Report errors user participation features, which enhance user interaction with the website. LCC Digital Library has Webpage feedback feature that allow users to post any reports or feedback to the administrator. Moreover, all the four websites provide links to social networking sites such as face book and twitter in order to enhance user participation.

Conclusion, summarising observed strengths and weaknesses of the sites against the themes outlined 

A digital library simply refers to a library whereby the storage of collections is in digital formats and is accessed using computers. The four digital libraries, LCC Digital Library, and JCPFL Digital Library have several strengths and weaknesses against the outlined theme of ethics. With regard to, which is backed by Project Gutenberg, the strength is that it has a wide coverage of resources/materials under the ethics collection; however, the weakness is that the large amount of resources can make the user get lost. The strength of is that it is comprehensive and well designed, and has extensive amount of resources on the theme of ethics. The strength of LCC Digital Library is that it contains up to date resources on the theme of ethics, nevertheless, the website has very little content/material on this theme hence its weakness. The strength of JCPFL Digital Library is that it is regularly updated. Nonetheless, its major weakness is that it has insufficient resources on the theme of ethics.


Barnes, S., 2003. Becoming a Digital Library. Seattle, WA: CRC Press

Globethics, 2013. Dialogue, reflection and action for responsible leadership, viewed 26 February 2013,

Jersey City Free Public Library Digital Library, 2013. JCFPL Digital Library, viewed 26 February 2013,

Jordan, M., 2006. Putting Content Online: A Practical Guide for Libraries. Denver, CO: Chandos

Kresh, D., 2007. The Whole Digital Library Handbook. San Fransisco, CA: American Library Association.

Lancashire County Council. Welcome to your Lancashire, viewed 26 February 2013,

Lesk. M., 2005. Understanding Digital Libraries. Crescent City, CA: Elsevier

Project Gutenberg, 2013. Free ebooks – Project Gutenberg, viewed 26 February 2013,

Reese, T., and Banarjee, K., 2008. Building Digital Libraries: A how-to-do list. New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers

Zhang, A.B., and Gourley, D., 2008. Creatinf Ditital Collections. Denver, CO: Chandos

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