From where I'm standing one of the most important trends in digital libraries right now is that more and more institutions are realizing:
1. Many digital library software needs exist for which there is no commercial software that can be purchased, or it is prohibitively expensive
2. Software teams in libraries rarely have the resources to develop and maintain digital library software on their own, and this is probably not a good long-term strategy anyway.
These realizations, hopefully, lead to the conclusion that,
3. It makes the most sense to sign onto a larger digital library software strategy and pursue community based development.
I observe massive growth in the number of institutions adopting Blacklight, Hydra, Islandora, VuFind and similar broad-based coalitions that can resource and staff large scale digital library development efforts. See as evidence this year's code4lib talk proposals. The same trend is evident in talk proposals for DLF and Open Repositories.
Choosing community based open source development gives institutions immediate access to a suite of free (free as in beer and free as in speech!) digital library solutions, a community of support, training materials for staff, skill development workshops, and ongoing improvements, bug fixes, upgrade guides, and new features without having to bankroll those themselves. That gives individual institutions the ability to focus on their core areas of expertise, focusing their development efforts on local deployment, data management, and putting effort into the parts of the software ecosystem that make the most strategic sense for their patrons. Increasingly there are also vendors serving this market, so institutions who feel more comfortable purchasing support and/or hosting contracts can have that option as well.
Additionally, developers who regularly submit their code to larger projects where it is subject to review by developers at other institutions and (for some projects) rules around required code testing, tend to up their software engineering game and start applying higher standards of quality even to unrelated development efforts. I have noticed that many libraries hire developers without having anyone on staff who has a good handle on how to supervise developers. Being part of a larger project can also be a way to grow this skill set among managers.
Good luck with your talk!
On Dec 17, 2012, at 11:49 AM, Matthew Sherman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hello all Code4Lib folk,
> I am putting together a small presentation with the topic about trends and
> issues in digital libraries for an interview next month. While I am doing
> quite a bit of searching and reading on my own, I wanted to see if any of
> you would be willing to provide your thoughts on what you see as emerging
> trends and issues in digital library, particularly as they deal with our
> ability to serve our users. I think it would be helpful to have insight
> from those currently in the trenches. Also this topic could be of interest
> to others in the listserv. Any thoughts are welcome and appreciated.
> Matt Sherman