Needed: Personal Digital Librarian


My computer, like many others, holds many digitized articles, mostly in PDF format.  I manually arrange them into folders and subfolders.  If I want to find one, I have to rely on my memory and on file search tools to retrieve it.  Sorting and retrieving takes time, leads to some duplication, and sometimes fails.

It would be helpful if, as in online music libraries, article metadata or other characteristics were automatically detected (or, where necessary, detected by manual entry of something like the Digital Object Identifier) and identified in terms of an online categorization system.  My digital librarian would notice that I have the article by Smith.  At my option, perhaps this would only happen if I placed the article in a certain sorting folder.  From there, maybe the personal digital librarian (PDL) would suggest certain related articles, drawing perhaps on what’s available online for free or through my existing paid subscriptions.  It might then move the article to the location, within a folder tree in the Reference section of my computer, where some professional librarian somewhere has decided it belongs, perhaps adding links and/or keywords to a reference tree and/or search engine so I can find it in the future.

At present, many professional journals tend to be available only through expensive subscriptions that only a relatively major research library can afford.  The PDL could facilitate economies of scale, bringing the price per article down significantly, if it helped ordinary users to become aware of only those individual articles that were directly on point with their suggested interests.  The PDL might, in other words, put the maximum number of potential readers in direct touch with what journals are producing, thereby potentially steering the priorities of journals and their writers toward what is actually needed in the field.


One Response to “Needed: Personal Digital Librarian”

  1. Digital Curation is becoming a hot topic these days. The interweb “river” is deep, wide and fast; we are “drowning in information, but thirsty for knowledge.” It’s coming. It has to, and there are efforts at meta-data catalogs and protocols.

    It’s a good idea to keep in mind how new all this is…. the “web” only really began mid-90s and only really took off (“web 2.0”) in the early noughts. We’re all a little drunk on Facebore and TWITter and iThingies, but I think it’ll settle down over time.

    Or not…. that’s what worries me!

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