Google progresses its mission to digitise libraries and make them searchable

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(This post was withdrawn on 5th for revision due to author-error and re-issued on 6th – sorry for the confusion!)


This entry was posted in About Google, Copyright, Digital books, Future views, Information literacy, Open access and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Google progresses its mission to digitise libraries and make them searchable

  1. Sarah says:

    Ah yes, thank you indeed for highlighting this article! This is what happens when I don’t get around to writing my next post which was to be on this very article. As the British Library CEO said, in principle, the digitisation project remains is a good idea, and we could be forgiven for thinking that Google was ideally placed to implement it. However, as the article above points out, it’s not that simple and commercial prorities are ever changing (especially if obstacles spring up – and let’s face it, there’ve been quite a few with this project) which raises the question of whether Google was so ideally placed after all. Oh dea, I really must write that blog post. Thanks Nate!

  2. Nate Picker says:

    Hmmmmm…..there’s this article about where Google stands with digitisation of books.
    How to reconcile yours and this one?

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