International collaboration in digital libraries : an analysis of the Manuscriptorium digital library case study


Publication date



Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus. Institutt for arkiv, bibliotek- og info.fag

Document type


Joint Master Degree in Digital Library Learning (DILL)


International collaboration in digital libraries represents a challenging subject for the cultural institutions, as everyone brings its own perspective and approach to the collaborative endeavour. When joining such initiatives, organizations subscribe to a set of technical and financial requirements to which local participants needs to agree. These aspects concern the participants as well as funding institutions or stakeholders. They all contribute to creating a sustainable collaborative initiative that can be easily accessed on the long-term. For this research, the lack of assessment concerning the local participant’s contribution in international collaborative initiatives was identified as a major problem and that framed the current research questions. Therefore this study aims at analyzing the challenges faced by the local institutions when joining international collaborative initiatives and at revealing the benefits of making widely available locally hosted content, i.e. special collections, in a specific research environment. The case of Manuscriptorium Digital Library was then chosen for answering the research questions, as it gathers valuable content - manuscripts, rare books, maps, charts, letters, and so on - from various European institutions - national, university libraries and research institutes - and it makes it available as digital representations through a virtual research environment. Also Manuscriptorium is considered to be one of the most structured, stable and experienced initiative that was undertaken in the field of digital library of special collections in Europe. The main conclusion of this study, as revealed in the findings, consider the act of international collaboration as beneficial to the local institutions, as it involves the whole organization – staff, technical resources and financial – into a common environment. Still, important drawbacks were identified mostly when stakeholders – national and international - do not see the importance of collaboration and therefore do not ensure the existence of their institution in a competitive arena. All these aspects need to be considered in further studies, as the current one only gave an overview situation of digital library collaboration in an international environment. In a world that calls for sharing resources in the name of progress and innovation, collaboration brings new and broad perspectives for the local organizations.


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