What is the difference between eLibrary vs. traditional library?

The shift from traditional libraries to the digital is not merely a technological evolution, but requires a change in the paradigm by which people access and interact with information. E-libraries open up an entirely new way of learning and interacting with “knowledge”; a mechanism allowing the benefits at a much lower barrier and cost, when properly planned and enabled. The Odisha Public eLibrary combines components of the traditional with the digital libraries, while bringing in features (such as audio, video, projection, printing, email services) that can apply to any “type” of a library. Salient aspects of our public eLibrary is: extremely low-cost but effective and novel implementation “by the people, of the people and for the people”.

A traditional library is characterized by the following:

  • emphasis on storage and preservation of physical items, particularly books and periodicals
  • cataloging at a high level rather than one of detail, e.g., author and subject indexes as opposed to full text
  • browsing based on physical proximity of related materials, e.g., books on sociology are near one another on the shelves
  • passivity; information is physically assembled in one place; users must travel to the library to learn what is there and make use of it

By contrast, an eLibrary differs from the above in the following ways:

  • Emphasis on access to digitized materials wherever they may be located, with digitization eliminating the need to own or store a physical item
  • eLearning capability — in many domains; skills-training;
  • Access to Intranet information sources and the Internet
  • Browsing based on hyperlinks, keyword, or any defined measure of relatedness; materials on the same subject do not need to be near one another in any physical sense
  • Broadcast technology; users need not visit a digital library except electronically; for them the library exists at any place they can access it, e.g., home, school, office, or in a car

One should keep in mind that there are some technology-based features that can belong to a traditional library as much as to an eLibrary (e.g., inter-library cataloging and loaning system).