Digital Library Examples

Commonly Used Web Design Elements

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the primary authoring language used to create documents on the World Wide Web. It defines the structure and layout of a Web document by using a variety of tags and attributes. All HTML is plain text and can be read by humans. (What Is Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)? n.d.)

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a standard (or language) that can be used to define the formatting for other markup languages. It enables developers to separate content and visual elements for greater page control and flexibility. A CSS file is normally attached to an HTML file by means of a link in the HTML file. Most of the formatting for the pages in this website is determined by CSS. In December 1998, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published the first CSS specification (CSS1). This was followed by CSS Level 2 (CSS2), and CSS Level 2, Revision 1 (CSS2.1) (What Is a Cascading Style Sheet (CSS)?, n.d

JavaScript (JS) is a scripting language used to enhance HTML pages and is often embedded in HTML code. It is an interpreted language and unlike a programming language, does not need to be compiled. JavaScript facilitates interactivity by enabling pages to react to events, exhibit special effects, accept variable text, validate data, create cookies, detect a user’s browser, etc. An example of a JavaScript can be found on this site’s homepage. (What Is JavaScript (JS)? n.d.)

Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) is a scripting language used to create dynamic and interactive HTML Web pages. A server processes PHP commands when a website visitor opens a page, then sends results to the visitor’s browser. An example of a PHP script is used on the Contact page.(What Is PHP, n.d.)

Resource Description Framework (RDF). is a general framework for describing website metadata, or “information about the information” on a website. It provides interoperability between applications that exchange machine-understandable information on the Web. RDF details information such as a site’s sitemap, the dates of when updates were made, keywords that search engines look for and the Web page’s intellectual property rights. RDF was designed to allow developers to build search engines that rely on the metadata and to allow Internet users to share Web site information more readily. RDF relies on XML as an interchange syntax, creating an ontology system for the exchange of information on the Web. (What Is Resource Description Framework (RDF)? n.d.)

Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a specification developed by the W3C. XML is a pared-down version of SGML, designed especially for Web documents. It allows designers to create their own customized tags, enabling the definition, transmission, validation, and interpretation of data between applications and between organizations. (What Is Extensible Markup Language (XML)? n.d.)

Apache Web Serversoftware is designed to provide computers which function as dedicated web servers the ability to host one or more HTTP-based websites. It supports multiple programming languages, server-side scripting, an authentication mechanism and database support. It is widely used by web hosting companies for the purpose of providing shared/virtual hosting, as by default, Apache Web Server supports and distinguishes between different hosts that reside on the same machine.(What Is Apache Web Server? n.d.)

Internet Information Services (IIS), formerly known as Internet Information Server, is a web server software product by Microsoft. IIS is used with Microsoft Windows OSs and is the Microsoft-centric competition to Apache, the most popular webserver used with Unix/Linux-based systems.(What Is Internet Information Services (IIS)? n.d.)

ASP.NET works with the Internet Information Server (IIS) to deliver content in response to client requests. ASP.NET can be used to create XML Web services that can allow building modular, distributed web applications, written in any language. These services are interoperable across variety of platforms and devices. (What Is ASP.NET? n.d.)

Digital Library Management Systems

According to Xie (Xie & Matusiak, 2016), the biggest difference between newer open source systems like CollectiveAccess, Omeka and Greenstone, and their proprietary counterparts is that they are better at the integration of Web 2.0 tools for sharing objects through social media, user tagging, and user contribution. However, because their functionality is centered on managing, adding and exhibiting objects, they are not typically well suited for long-term preservation (2016, p. 192). However, since these products are open source, they are affordable and have a huge support community.


CollectiveAccess (CA) is an open source Digital Library Management System (DLMS) designed for cataloging, managing, and publishing museum and archival collections, and is widely used by libraries, non-profit organizations, private collectors, artist studios and performing arts organization (Xie & Matusiak, 2016, p. 184). The software was created in 2006 by Whirl-i-gig, a software development and consulting firm, and was released to the public under an open source GNU Public License in 2007 (Xie, 2016, p. 185).

The developers (About CollectiveAccess | Collectiveaccess.Org, n.d.) describe their product as “a relational database that enables complex cataloging, powerful searching and browsing and nuanced web-based collection discovery.” CollectiveAccess is a web-based system with two main components: Providence, the core cataloguing and data management “back-end” application, and Pawtucket, an optional “front-end” publication and discovery platform.


Omeka offers three DLMS products, Omeka S and Omeka Classic which are self-hosted products and require a web server hardware and software, and which is web based. is a project of the Corporation for Digital Scholarship, a non-profit dedicated to the development of software and services for researchers and cultural heritage institutions (Digital Scholar, n.d.) As Xie (2016, p. 185) points out, Omeka was designed for non-IT specialists and requires little to no infrastructure or advanced technical skills. Therefore, it is a popular choice for small archives, museums, scholars and students learning the basics of cataloging, archiving and digital library design.

Omeka Classic is designed for individual projects and educators and has the following system requirements:

  • Linux operating system
  • Apache HTTP server (with mod_rewrite enabled)
  • MySQL version 5.0 or greater
  • PHP scripting language version 5.4 or higher (with mysqli and exif extensions installed)
  • ImageMagick image manipulation software (for resizing images) (Omeka Classic User Manual, n.d.)

Omeka S is designed for institutions managing a sharable resource pool across multiple sites. It requires:

  • Linux operating system
  • Apache (with AllowOverride set to “All” and mod_rewrite enabled)
  • MySQL, minimum version 5.6.4 (or MariaDB, minimum version 10.0.5)
  • PHP, minimum version 7.1, with PDO, pdo_mysql, and xml extensions installed
  • Optional, to create thumbnails: ImageMagick version 6.7.5 or greater, the PHP imagick extension, or the PHP gd extension (Omeka S, n.d.)


Greenstone DLMS also provides a way of organizing information and publishing it on the Web in the form of a fully searchable, metadata-driven digital resource. However, it can also be run in a non-networked environment (standalone), operating from removable media such as a USB Flash Drive and DVD.

Greenstone was developed and distributed in cooperation with UNESCO and the Human Info NGO in Belgium. It is open-source, multilingual software, issued under the terms of the GNU General Public License. In 2004 its developers received the IFIP Namur award for “contributions to the awareness of social implications of information technology, and the need for an holistic approach in the use of information technology that takes account of social implications.

Greenstone3 is written in Java and takes advantage of many web technologies—such as XML Transforms (XSLT), and the Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JASS)—which have emerged since their design first developed the software. Greenstone runs on all versions of Windows, Unix/Linux, and Mac OS-X. The default Windows installation requires no configuration, and end users can install in on their personal laptops or workstations. Institutional users run it on their main web server, where it interoperates with standard web server software (e.g. Apache for Greenstone2, Tomcat for Greenstone3). An experimental version is also available for Android: that is a version where the digital library operates self-contained on the user’s phone or table.

Greenstone has two separate interactive interfaces, the Reader interface and the Librarian interface. End users access the digital library through the Reader interface, which operates within a web browser. The Librarian interface is a Java-based graphical user interface that makes it easy to gather material for a collection, adding metadata, design the searching and browsing facilities that the collection will offer the user, and build and serve the collection. The Librarian interface can also be configured to manage remote Greenstone installations. Greenstone3 also provides library management facilities that are built in to the web browser interface, similar to Omeka (Factsheet :: Greenstone Digital Library Software, n.d.)