A Happy New Year to you. Here’s to 2015, may the search continue!
Oooh, that sounds a bit Star Wars-like, but there we are. As a friend once quoted Yoda to me: “do or do not, there is no try”, which always makes me smile.
Google has, for many years now, been trying to digitise the world’s books. You can see the evidence frequently when you search, scattered among the results – links to books will come up, leading to extracts with a little or a lot of access, depending upon the copyright situation.
In August last year, the head librarian of the Wellcome Trust wrote an interesting article in the Guardian which gave an update on the whole book digitisation scene and also questioned whether it was a good idea. His conclusion? It does seem to be a good idea, but only if there is collaboration between libraries and more than a single provider such as Google, doing the digitising.
Another interesting point was content overlap – the same book being digitised by different organisations. Given that the internet is jammed full of overlap (think how much a news item is re-tweeted, and reported numerous times across multiple sites), this is an interesting question. For the library world it is providing an indication of how much overlap there is in their collections, and even historical trends in demand. This is resulting in better collection management, reduced duplication and therefore money-saving.
The article is very positive, and paints a picture which gives an indication of how the Library of the Future will operate. Digitisation certainly disrupts the way we search for and access books. However, it also seems to be retaining the value of library holdings, and makes them available to many more people. After all, if the CEO of the British Library thinks it is a good thing, then it probably is.
(This post was withdrawn on 5th for revision due to author-error and re-issued on 6th – sorry for the confusion!)