Syracuse University

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iSchool students create educational resource on digital libraries

August 19, 2010

Margaret Spillett
(315) 443-1069

During the Fall 2009 semester, graduate students enrolled in the “Digital Libraries” (IST 676) course at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) created an electronic educational resource on the topic of digital libraries.

hurst-wahl“What I originally told the students was that they were going to be building a digital library about digital libraries,” says iSchool assistant professor of practice Jill Hurst-Wahl.

From that initial idea, the students started using Microsoft SharePoint to create a digital libraries wiki. The wiki included a wide variety of resources on such topics as digital library definitions, examples, users, benefits and problems, the future of digital libraries, their content and format, storage technology, costs, preservation, taxonomy and more.

“The work the students did on this resource supplemented the lectures and the textbook,” Hurst-Wahl says. “The topics they covered were far reaching—things I wouldn’t even have thought to include in the class. In the end, their interests helped to create a robust resource on digital libraries.”

“In trying to figure out what we could do with the content after the semester was over, one of the things I thought about was, ‘Could we contribute this content someplace else?’” Hurst-Wahl says. One option was to turn this private wiki into a public one.

Hurst-Wahl’s faculty assistants, Katy Kelly G’10 and Elaine Patton G’11, spent the spring semester editing the wiki for public display and giving it a more consistent look and feel. The wiki went public in late April on the iSchool’s website at  

Anyone who is interested in digital libraries, especially those who are just thinking about the topic, are encouraged to use the wiki in order to learn more. There are definitions, examples, information on digital library infrastructures, resources and more.

While the wiki was created by one class, Hurst-Wahl hopes that future courses in the iSchool will update the wiki by adding new content and ensuring that existing content is still relevant. Since digital libraries is such a broad topic, she hopes that related courses will contribute and grow this resource as well.

IST 676 is offered online this fall and will be taught by iSchool professor Jian Qin.

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