Digital Libraries: Questia Essay

1390 words - 6 pages

A search for digital libraries returns a large number of choices. These choices include children’s, international, software, and ebooks in print or audio. Many of the libraries are themed like the International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL). This library has many book offerings from around the world. English is but one language choice available. The ICDL has great potential with non-English speaking students. The Indianapolis Marion County Public Library (IMCPL) offers a fabulous collection of post cards and World War I posters among a few other things. North Carolina has a digital library (NCDL) of its own with 20 member public libraries. Anyone can browse the library, but a card from a ...view middle of the document...

This means that more than one person can use the same resource simultaneously. In addition, books can be highlighted and notes added to the margins. Specified pages can be printed. Footnotes and bibliographies are hyperlinked. This is an attractive feature for anyone conducting research. Books can be bookmarked and annotated. All of the subscriber’s work is saved for future use. A citation engine is also included for all the major styles. These features also mean that books cannot be downloaded and checked out in a traditional fashion as with the NCDL. They must be accessed and used through the Questia service. They do, however, have an iPhone application.
The Questia collection of fiction and non-fiction titles is developed by librarians, and they claim that it “is designed to support undergraduate study in the humanities and social sciences” (Collection, para. 1). Titles are said to be scholarly and are chosen from those that are often-cited or widely-held. They also take recommendations from faculty and librarians. Questia lists in part their selection criteria which includes authority, scope, treatment of diverse populations and balanced viewpoints. The collection is built around a liberal arts curriculum and excludes the hard sciences as well as special collections. In addition, the site is marketed to professionals, students, and researchers among others while proclaiming to support an undergraduate curriculum. These items may indicate that the collection is not as deep as it is extensive.
Searching the Questia catalog can be done by word or phrase or by title, author and publisher. Boolean search is supported, and there internal searches are provided for books, articles and documents. Questia also uses the Lexile Framework for Reading which matches reading levels to appropriate texts. This information is entered on the advanced search page, but there is no clear indication as to how the Lexile data is determined to make it useful.
Once inside the Questia library, the user will find 72,000 complete books in fiction and non-fiction. These titles cover current to out-of-print materials. They offer an extensive list of journals but do not provide a count of them or of the magazines and newspapers. They focus on the number of articles available instead. The articles combined total over a million. Questia does provide one interesting search page and it is on research topics. The “A” page alone appeared to have well over 100 choices. The topics range from people to ideas to events. This could be quite helpful to help narrow a topic for study or research. The “L” page contained the subject of Library History. Clicking that link returned twelve items. Eight were articles and four were books. Titles, authors and length were provided. Dates and publishers are not seen on this page. If a table of contents was available, there was a link provided to it. A list of linked related topics is available on the page and the topic choices did all seem...

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