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Explicitly defining virtual collections in a digital library can benefit both users and contributors. This paper outlines the costs and benefits for defining virtual collections and describes an implementation of collection-level metadata in two digital libraries. Our work suggests that component repositories of NSDL would profit by describing their collection, and sub-collections, using a schema such as the one we implemented. This would enable NSDL to provide a rich, cross-linked hierarchy of virtual collections. By sharing collection-level, rather than item-level, metadata, collections would provide detailed resource information, presumably keeping most of their viewership, while NSDL would provide a broad description of resources.
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