ETL 411 – Topic 4 – The Virtual Library

What is a virtual library?

Image retrieved from

“A (potentially virtual) organisation that comprehensively collects, manages, and preserves for the long term rich digital content and offers to its user communities specialised functionality on that content, of measurable quality, and according to prescribed policies” (Castelli, D. & Krafft, D., 2007).
The concept of the virtual library is one that has developed with the growth in telecommunication networks, especially the internet. The ‘virtual library’ emulates a ‘real’ library, but is understood to be a product of the virtual world of the internet.
This examination of various definitions of the virtual libraries within the professional literature brings me to that which I will use: The virtual library environment encompasses the concept of the digital library but is more than a collection of digitised resources. The virtual library provides access to an integrated collection of print, electronic and multimedia resources delivered seamlessly and transparently to users regardless either of their physical location or the location and ownership of the information.
The role of the librarian, particularly during the past two decades, has further evolved to encompass the burgeoning technological developments. Crawford and Gorman (1995) have defined the role of the librarian today: To acquire, give access to, and safeguard carriers of knowledge and information in all forms and to provide instruction and assistance in the use of the collections to which their users have access… [libraries] are about the preservation, dissemination, and use of recorded knowledge in whatever form it may come. (pp 3,5)
Rusbridge (1997) agreed with this definition, writing: The role of the library is to select, acquire, organise and make available an appropriate subset of …resources… The library has a role here in the digital world as with print – not just in excluding access to rubbish, but in encouraging access paths to quality.
I am not yet a TL nor have I had any real experience in a library myself, but I am passionate about ICT and integrating it into the curriculum. I am looking forward to the day where I get to create a virtual library myself. Though from the readings it does seem quite daunting. However, so did teaching and programming before I dove in and gave it a go!


Castelli, D., & Krafft, D. (2007). Organising the Digital Library. DELOS: Network of Excellence on Digital Libraries. Retrieved from

Crawford, W & Gorman, M (1995). Future libraries: dreams madness & reality, American Library Association, Chicago.

Rusbridge, C (1998). ‘Towards the hybrid library’, [online] D-Lib Magazine, July/August,

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *