Purpose – This paper sets out to address the issue of the impact and evolution of digital libraries and information services using the concept of information ecologies. Design/methodology/approach – After setting the perspective, digital libraries are explored from their functional logic inside the social subsystem that deals with transferring knowledge in the form of information among people and generations. The current landscape is then presented, which is complicated by the enormous technological shift in course. The concept of information ecology is useful for reducing this complexity. Findings – Trends affecting modern information ecology in which digital libraries are evolving are studied. Specifically, eight noteworthy processes in this development are analyzed: ubiquity of information management; digital convergence; technological standardization and leverage; the surging of a worldwide space of collaboration, and competition; swift advances in the international division of informational work; the transformation of the physical information units toward the provision of proximity services; the entry of new agents in the field; and the growing emphasis on data management. Originality/value – The changing environment in the libraries field is explored using the concept of information ecologies. Some of the most important trends in the digital environment are identified and their effect on the social and economical functions of libraries is shown. Information ecology is very complex, with many actors, and libraries have some niches ensured (heritage preservation, proximity services …), though others could be better performed by emerging full‐digital organizations.
The Electronic Library – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 15, 2011
Keywords: Digital libraries; Information society; Ecology
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