Monday, March 22, 2010

Pros and Cons

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.


  1. I agree one of the major cons to virtual libraries is that there is no "onsite" staff to help instruct users how to interact with tools. However, in a physical library that big information desk is often intimidating and people do not want to bother a librarian by asking a question. I think an integrated chat feature could make librarians more "approachable".

  2. Another Con to add to the list is searchability. Or does that get added to the Pro list? It can be both.

    Depending on how an item is cataloged and whether full text searching is available a known resource may never be found. You mention that with the sciences. At the same time a known resource may not be found because too many items are returned.

    User training can help but good database design and cataloging/indexing are very important for virtual libraries.

  3. I think virtual libraries are great, like everything else with glitches, but nevertheless they are available 24/7. True you need to know what you're doing but if the chat feature is added then it would be easier to handle.

  4. Virtual libraries a great tool to utilize for research. Their accessibility makes it easy to use whenever and where ever. I would have to agree that a con would be no "on site" librarians. I have used the online chat feature before to find information I was looking for. One of the problems I see to this is if you were using the virtual library during a time when there was no librarian there to chat with you about a question.