Sunday, March 2, 2008

Advantages & Disadvantages of Virtual Libraries

When deciding whether or not to build a virtual library, the numerous advantages and disadvantages need to be taken into consideration. There are several articles that examine these various factors.


1. Immediate access to resources.

  • virtual libraries are available anytime
  • facilitate just-in-time learning

2. Information updated immediately.

  • TL able to respond to immediate needs of teachers
  • provide resources at short notice
  • contains up-to-date information

3. No physical boundaries.

  • people from all over the world can access information
  • as long as there is an Internet connection

4. Support different learning styles.

  • access material in a variety of formats
  • tailored to characteristics of the learner or community of learners
  • range of resources to meet the information needs of different users
  • can be customized for particular schools, grades and subjects

5. Accessible for the disabled.

  • offers an alternative for those who have physical difficulty accessing resources in a regular library
  • through use of audio and video, resources are made available to the visually and hearing impaired
  • integrate voice, video, and text for users involved in distance education in remote locations

6. Present student work.

  • share and showcase student work
  • student-created art, photography, oral histories to support local curriculum and compensate for lack of local resources on the Internet

7. Information retrieval.

  • provides user-friendly interfaces, giving clickable access to resources
  • use any search term such as word, phrase, title, name, subject to search entire collection

8. Teaching tool for information literacy.

  • enables students to find their way more easily around the various search choices
  • as an instructional tool, students learn the skills of selecting and using appropriate search engines, reading URLs and how to use an online database when needed
  • can be taught information ethics ie. plagiarism, reference sources, copyright issues

9. Storage of information.

  • potential to store much more information that traditional library
  • requires very little physical space to contain information

10. Networking capabilities.

  • one digital library can provide a link to any other resources of other digital libraries
  • a seamlessly integrated resource sharing can occur

11. Directs students to relevant resources.

  • students spend more time thinking about information rather than participating in time consuming searching
  • that complement the library's print resources
  • customized to meet the needs of a particular school community
  • resources selected to match research topics, age and reading levels of students

There are some disadvantages or concerns that need attention and consideration when creating a virtual library.

1. Restricted by copyright law.

  • works cannot be shared over different periods of time like a traditional library
  • content is public domain or self generated
  • if copyright exists, permission should be requested

2. Requires connectivity.

  • instability of Internet sites requires regular checks should be carried out to ensure that web links are still active
  • if there is not Internet connection, the VL is inaccessible
  • many people do not have Internet access - the Digital Divide may apply
  • may have access to the Internet but lack skill to utilize the available information

3. Skilled professionals are required.

  • to organize, maintain and help students
  • guide students in their selection, evaluation and use of electronic choices
  • need the knowledge of Boolean searching and advanced searching skills

4. Increased number of resources challenges student selection.

  • purchase of online materials are not tailored for a particular community of learners
  • increased need for instruction in use and evaluation of resources
  • students face difficulty in selecting quality material from the increased assortment of resources

The building of a virtual library requires consideration of both the advantages and disadvantages in order to create an effective library. With careful design and the support of skilled information professionals, virtual libraries can provide a powerful environment for student learning. (Gunn, 2002)


Digital Library. (2008). Wikipedia. Retrieved February 29, 2008, from

Grantham, C. (2007). Virtual library: e-ssential. ACCESS. 21 (3) 5-8.

Gunn, H. (2002). Virtual Libraries Supporting Student Learning. Retrieved March1, 2008 from


Linda Morgan said...

I liked the clear, concise way you presented this part of your post. Very well-thought out ideas. It would make a good assignment - asking students to come up with pros and cons of VL's....and extending that, asking them to come up with elements of VL's that they'd prefer to include/ avoid.

Paul Thomas said...

As a photographer, I needed exclusive ownership of my work. After some extensive research I found out about this firm called Levy, Levy & Sosa in Miami. I decided to set up a consultation to meet with their attorney and I’m sure glad I did. They assisted me with applying for copyright registration, the process was so simple and they guided me along the way, explaining in ways that were easy to understand. I encourage you to contact them on 1-800-464-5554 or visit their website to secure your work!

Anonymous said...

very simple,concise and attractively laid out gives the urge to want more iNformation WELL DONE

Umar Ahmad said...

I like the concise and clarity of pros and cons of VL,How i wish the content will be updated regularly