Github as a digital library
Abstract: Digital technology allows for documents to be copied, modified, and new versions of them to be created, however, existing versioning practices used in digital libraries are confined largely to the maintenance and preservation of digital documents. Acknowledging the utility of version control in many fields, this study highlights a gap, primarily in the library and information science (LIS) practice, of the use of such systems for organising and managing collections. This study qualitatively examines Github, a web-based implementation of the version control system git. It provides a proof-of-concept of the use of the platform for complex image and text documents, and an analysis on the extent to which Github can be regarded as a digital repository that fulfills the requirements set up for a digital library. This is achieved by, first, implementing a small-scale project, involving the digital adaptation of Katarina Kelsey’s artist book Antigone Notes in the form of a Github repository, and then by posing questions to the implementation and its outcome. The consecutive analysis draws on the implications of the implementation on the source document and the work, and examines Github alongside the formal constructs of digital repository and digital library. The result of the analysis shows that for the purposes of the implementation, Github can be used as a digital repository which partially fulfils the requirements set up for a digital library. Furthermore, Github exhibits an alternative approach to formally defined digital library frameworks which can provide valuable lessons for librarians. Overall, the study contributes to the practice and research of LIS with a preliminary investigation of the relevance of Github to the practice of librarianship and the opportunities of version control for managing digital document collections.
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