While research and cultural institutions have increased focus on online access to special collections in the past decade, methods for assessing digital libraries have yet to be standardized. Because of limited resources and increasing demands for online access, assessment has become increasingly important. Library staff do not know how to begin to assess the costs, impact, use, and usability of digital libraries. The Digital Library Federation Assessment Interest Group is working to develop best practices and guidelines in digital library assessment. The definition of a digital library used is "the collections of digitized or digitally born items that are stored, managed, serviced, and preserved by libraries or cultural heritage institutions, excluding the digital content purchased from publishers."
They are considering two basic questions:
- What strategic information do we need to collect to make intelligent decisions?
- How can we best collect, analyze, and share that information effectively?