A distributed library is a collection of materials available for borrowing by members of a group, yet not maintained or owned by a single entity. The library catalog is maintained on a database that is made accessible to users through the Internet. An early example of this style of library (if not the first of its type) is the Distributed Library Project of the San Francisco Bay Area.
This style of library is still in its infancy. While libraries are being established in several cities worldwide, the San Francisco Bay Area library still only has a few hundred members. Administrative software continues to be developed and distributed.
Another example which takes a slightly different approach is Unlibrary.com. In this system users are free to create communities of any size and scope, rather than a single city-wide community. For instance a church might have its own community, with church members all able to borrow from each other. Users can also have private, invite-only groups.
Another example is the digibruted library of Geneva. The name digibruted is coined from “Digital” and “Distributed”. It does not mean that the library is brutalized by digital attacks, but rather that the library is a digital construction, indexing real assets (books in this case) distributed in the real world. The difference from Unlibrary is that the books are freely given to readers, who act also as librarians, in a kind of peer-to-peer schema.
See also 
- The SF Distributed Library Project
- A List of Distributed Libraries
- The Digibruted Library of Geneva
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