Part I. Education and training in digital libraries

In a relatively short period of time, spanning less than two decades or so, digital libraries became a global phenomenon, characterized by an accelerated, explosive growth. Digital libraries are a subject of great many activities worldwide. These include diverse practical applications, research and development (R&D) on many fronts, continuing innovation, policy formulations, management changes, and more. A number of fields are involved, among the most prominent being information science, librarianship, and computer science.
Considerable and rapidly growing amounts of funds are spent on practical applications in building and operating a variety of digital library collections, components and service and on R&D in digital libraries. Many commercial enterprises are providing digital resources and software for digital libraries. This all creates demands for well educated and trained professionals in these areas.
However, the education and training for digital libraries is most often based on apprentiship and practical courses and conferences without receiving the same attention (and resources) of digital libraries applications and other areas mentioned. A number of institutions are teaching digital libraries modules and courses, or beginning to, and struggling with this relatively new and volatile educational area. Many practitioners are finding it hard to learn more and to keep up.
The goal of the first part of LIDA 2008 is to explore efforts, concepts and ideas related to education and training of professionals, dealing with the academic quality standards and practical training requirements for digital libraries and in variety of fields and contexts related to knowledge, values and skills needed for digital librarians. The general aim is to help further development of current efforts, as well as development of frameworks within which diverse efforts could be compared, evaluated, and improved.

Contributions are invited covering the following topics (types described below):

  • knowledge, values and skills of the digital librarian to be reflected in educational offerings
  • conceptual frameworks and methodological approaches to digital library education
  • instructional design, development, and evaluation of programs of study and specialization for digital librarians in a variety of schools and on different levels – existing and proposed
  • convergence and place of digital library education in broader curricula of library and information science, computer science, and other fields; impact of digital library education on other parts of the curriculum
  • examples of good practices of specific courses (or sequence of courses)and programs related to various aspects of digital libraries and digital library technology; examples of various modes of delivery
  • continuing education and training in digital libraries oriented toward practicing professionals
  • student evaluation of digital library education, as well as expectations and perceptions of professionals in continuing education courses and efforts
  • international aspects and cooperative opportunities in digital library education
  • banchmarking and evaluation of educational and training programs in digital libraries
  • cultural and social elements in digital library education.

Part II. Reference in digital environments

As access to electronic information through library Web pages has proliferated in recent years, an increasing number of libraries have added digital reference assistance to their list of user services. E-mail reference has become an expected venue for asking reference questions, having been included among the suite of information services for over 20 years. Live chat reference services are relatively new-comers, but have already been successfully operating for over 10 years. Information seekers are increasingly turning to virtual reference (also known as digital reference) for the anonymity and convenience of remote access and for the extended hours of operation, since many services operate 24/7/365. An increasing number of libraries and information centers are now experimenting with Instant Messaging, Text Messaging (SMS), and other emerging modes for offering reference services to increasingly tech savvy library users. Web 2.0 applications are opening new vistas for digital library services including reference blogs and wikis. Digital reference desks are appearing in virtual worlds such as Second Life. Although the proliferation of these alternative methods for service delivery highlights the need for research focused on understanding users and staff behavior and impact on issues of satisfaction and success, their assessment poses new challenges for researchers.

The goal of the second part of LIDA 2008 is to explore the totality of the virtual reference environment (including live chat, e-mail, IM, and Web 2.0 reference initiatives) and its relationship to digital libraries. Special attention will be on the evaluation of virtual reference services from a variety of research perspectives and approaches. The general aim is to concentrate on scholarship that increases our understanding of the needs, interests, and experiences of users as well as librarians/information providers in the context of virtual reference.

Invited are contributions (types described below) covering the following topics:

  • evaluation of various modes of digital library services
  • application of theories and models in study of users and use of virtual reference
  • application of theories and user information needs assessments for design and development of digital reference systems
  • assessment of the decision making process for users who choose virtual reference over other modes (e.g., face-to-face, phone)
  • advantages and disadvantages of different virtual reference modes
  • the role of knowledge databases in digital reference
  • sustainability and cost-effectiveness of virtual reference services
  • evaluation of virtual reference consortia and comparison of service models
  • benchmarking service quality and development of evaluation standards in virtual reference
  • evaluation of advantages and disadvantages of different virtual reference modes
  • assessment of the quality of  interpersonal communication in virtual reference
  • studies of accuracy and efficiency in virtual reference
  • explorations of question negotiation in virtual environments
  • issues in archiving digital reference questions.