"A study of history shows that civilisations that abandon the quest for knowledge are doomed to disintegration." -Bernard Lovell: The Observer, 'Sayings of the Week’, 14th May 1972.
A library serves a community of users (i.e. an office, professional group, agency, academy, etc) by making available information content and services that are valued by that user-community. A traditional, physical library is thus not simply a building that houses information, but rather a complex configuration of information goods and services that have been carefully selected and organised around the needs of a user community.
An Electronic Library on the other hand, is a library in which collections are stored in digital formats (as opposed to print, microform, or other media) and accessible by computers. The digital content may be stored locally, or accessed remotely via computer networks. An electronic library is a type of information retrieval system. In a digital library scenario, the content and services are electronically available, and user communities are no longer geographically defined. Realising a digital library therefore includes challenges in digitising contents, computerising services, and networking users. Even if these difficulties are overcome, however, the result can well be an overwhelming tangle of possible information sources without the structure and selectivity that renders a traditional library navigable.