SLIS S652: Digital Libraries: Fall Semester 2009 (revised 2009-11-05)
John A. Walsh

Contact Information

Course Description

This course covers general digital library topics including:
  • organization, planning, project management
  • digital content (media types, standards, format-specific metadata)
  • general digital library metadata formats and standards
  • digital library technologies and systems
  • user-center design in digital libraries
  • digital preservation
  • current/future trends in digital libraries
  • institutional, societal, and professional issues/challenges facing digital libraries and their analog counterparts


There is not textbook for the course. We will consult online and reserve readings from a variety of sources.


°All assignments should be submitted as attachments through Oncourse. If the assignment is a Web page, submit a document attachment that includes your name, the assignment title, and a link to the web page.

Technical Assignments (30%)

You will select a personal collection or items of interest (e.g., a set of old letters between parents or grandparents, a collection of old photographs, hand-made books or art objects, etc.), and digitize the collection/item and then perform a series of technical exercises based on the digital object(s).
  • Write a 500-word illustrated contextual essay about your collection; due 2009-09-24. (5%)
  • Digitize objects in archival format, and create web-deliverable derivatives. Turn in link to web page that contains links to these objects. Due 2009-10-08 (5%)
  • Select a textual document related to your collection and encode it using TEI. Your document should at least be a few pages in length, and you should include as much metadata as possible in your tei header. Due 2009-11-05 (10%)
  • Create Dublin Core and MODS records for five of your digital objects. Add links to records to your web page. Write a short essay in which you: 1) briefly introduce DC and MODS, 2) explain decisions you made in representing your objects in DC and MODS, and 3) highlight major differences between your DC and MODS representations. Due 2009-10-29 (10%)

Review of an Existing DL Project. Due 2009-11-12 (25%)

Write a 1000-word review of an exisiting digital library project hosted somewhere other than Indiana University. Your review should:
  • summarize the project's content, significance, and audience
  • identify and discuss the examine the content and metadata standards used in the project
  • discuss whether and how content and metadata is exposed to the user and other library systems (e.g., by OAI-PMH)
  • identify and discuss the infrastructure and/or delivery system
  • identify and discuss any noteworthy, unique, or interesting interface features or other functionality
In order to conduct this assignment correctly you will need to choose a digital library project with thorough documentation or about which detailed articles have been written and you may need to communicate with and gather information from individuals involved in the development of the project. An example of a project with good documentation is Indiana University's Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection.
Please try to keep to the specified length. Longer is not better, and these papers should be clear and thorough, but also concise. All essays may, where relevant, be accompanied by screen shots, tables, or other graphics. All essays should be clearly organized with liberal use of headings and other “signposts.”

Final Project: DL Project/Grant Proposal (35%)

  1. preliminary proposal (5%). Due 2009-10-22. Use the IU Digital Library Program's Project Proposal Application Form as a template for your preliminary proposal.
  2. Final project presentation (5%). Due on 2009-12-03 or 2009-12-10.
  3. Final project grant proposal (25%). Due on 2009-12-14.

Participation (10%)

Students are expected to attend, to be prepared for, and to participate in all class meetings.

Letter Grade Definitions

All grades will be assigned according to the Indiana University School of Library and Information Science Definitions of Letter Grades.


Date Topics Readings
  • Introductions
  • Overview of Syllabus
  • Concepts
  • History
  • Example programs & projects
2009-09-10 No class. Professor Walsh will be attending the Digital Resources for the Humanities and Arts (DRHA) conference. To aid in selecting your own collection materials, and as an introduction to many of the issues we will discuss throughout the semester, please read the following chapters from The NINCH Guide to Good Practice in the Digital Representation and Management of Cultural Heritage Materials :
  • History of digital libraries and library automation
  • Digitization Overview
Wattenberg, F. (1998). A National Digital Library for Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education. D-Lib Magazine, 4(9).
Greenstein, Daniel and Suzanne Thorin. The Digital Library: A Biography. Council on Library and Information Resources. December 2002. 31 August 2006.
Griffin, S. M. (1998). NSF/DARPA/NASA Digital Libraries Initiative: A Program Manager's Perspective. D-Lib Magazine (July/August).
A Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections. National Information Standards Organization (NISO). 2004. 28 August 2006.
Bush, V. (1945). “As We May Think”. The Atlantic Monthly, 176(1), 101-108.
Smith, Abby. (1999). Why Digitize? Washington, DC: Council on Library & Information Resources. Retrieved November 2, 2007, from
Assignment Due!
Digital Content: Image
  • general issues
  • digitization processes & standards
  • formats
  • delivery systems
  • metadata
Digital Content: Text
  • general issues
  • digitization processes & standards
  • formats
  • Unicode
  • delivery systems
  • metadata
Assignment Due!
Guest Speaker: Jenn Riley, Metadata Librarian, IU Digital Library Program
Assignment Due!
XML/TEI Workshop Review Chapters 2, 3, 4, 13, and 14 of the TEI Guidelines
Assignment Due!
Metadata/XML/TEI Catch-up Day
Assignment Due!
Class canceled! (baby came early)
Assignment Due!
Digital Library Infrastructures
Digital Objects & METS
Assignment Due!
Digital Content: Time-Based Formats (Audio & Video)
  • general issues
  • digitization processes & standards
  • formats
  • delivery systems
  • metadata
2009-11-19 Application Software
Explore the "Infrastructure Project" space on the Digital Library Program Wiki:
Explore the METS Navigator site at: and a sample collection that uses METS Navigator:
Read “Introducing EPrints 3” and watch short QuickTime video clips at
Visit DSpace homepage at and read 9 “About DSpace” under “New to DSpace?” on the top left pane.
Ian H. Witten and David Bainbridge, “A brief history of the Greenstone Digital Library Software,”
Visit and read the topics under “About” on the left pane.
2009-11-26 Thanksgiving. No class.
Assignment Due!
User-Centered Design & DL Evaluation
Assignment Due!
Final Project Presentations
Assignment Due!
Final projects due by noon.