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Digital Libraries and User Needs: Negotiating the Future (21 Sep 2004)
We have come a long way from early digital library development efforts where the predominant model was often system-oriented or followed structured development design. Approaches such as the waterfall model, where users had a specific place in the design process, are no longer the only option for building digital libraries. Almost all the efforts reported here mix and match approaches. Users are involved and integral to the entire lifecycle of the digital library: design, use and sustainability. In the participatory design iLabs, one important community using the Inquiry Page is the Water CAMPWS collaboratory which links researchers, teachers, students, government agencies, industry and general public on the topic of water purification. Water purification is often a local government policy question that needs input from a shared governance model for effective resolution or management. Similarly, in MERLOT educators have clear ideas about information quality. These differ by discipline, and furthermore must be contextualized with use information (when was the resource used, by whom, etc.). Thus, hybrid approaches integrating users in design and development - whether using a design approach like user-centered design, participatory design, or an organizational development approach such as shared governance - appear to offer more promise for successful digital information use, enhancing such use beyond mere information access to transforming users, and ensuring library sustainability.
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