A virtual or digital library offers users access anywhere there is an internet connection, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This allows users to research and find information when needed to complete a particular task or purpose.
A virtual library also allows different formats of information to be obtained. Users can find print, audio and video information all in one place. This allows users to use the information in a way that best suits their needs. Virtual libraries are more accessible for the disabled. Voice output, closed captioning and large buttons are tools that are easily integrated into a virtual library.
Virtual libraries often contain more up-to-date information. A source of information is more readily available and does not need to ordered, received, processed, and then put on the shelf.
If there is not internet connection, there is no library.
Users still need training and explanations on what databases would best meet there needs.
Sometimes a face-to face refernece interview will give greater userstanding of the users needs.There is a great need for detailed directions on how to search databases or other online resources that may be new to users. One way this is being addressed is by adding a "Chat" feature to the virtual library. Users also need help evaluating information and resources they find. It is important to teach the value of quailty vs. quantity.
Another con for users is language, especially in the sciences. It is important to aid users in finding information in their native language.
Church, A. (2005). Virtual school libraries--the time is now. MultiMedia & Internet@Schools, 12(2), 8-12. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.
Iswerarn, A. (2009). Virtual libraries for Biochemistry, Molecular Biophysics and Bioinformatics. Annals of West University of Timisoara, 18(1), 1-6.
King, D.L. (2009). Creating community at the digital branch. Library Techonology Reports, 45(6), 30-33.