Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 April 2015
Digital libraries of case studies of analogical design have been popular since their advent in the early 1990s. We consider four benefits of digital libraries of case studies of analogical design in the context of biologically inspired design. First, a digital library affords documentation. The 83 case studies in our work come from 8 years of extended, collaborative design projects in an interdisciplinary class on biologically inspired design. Second, a digital library provides on-demand access to the case studies. We describe a web-based library of case studies of biologically inspired design called the Design Study Library (DSL). Third, a compilation of case studies supports analyses of broader patterns and trends. As an example, an analysis of DSL's case studies found that environmental sustainability was a major factor in about a third of the case studies and an explicit design goal in about a fourth. Fourth, a digital library of case studies can support analogical learning. Preliminary results from an exploratory study indicate that DSL may support novice learning about the processes of biologically inspired design.