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Mass Digitization of Books

Given the Government Printing Office’s intention to “digitize a complete legacy collection of tangible U.S. Government publications” (GPO’s Digitization and Preservation Initiatives) and the mass digitization of books that the Google Books Library Project and the Open Content Alliance and others are doing, this is a good time to read Karen Coyle’s excellent overview of mass digitization.

Coyle notes that “Google has clearly stated that their book project is solely aimed at providing a searchable index to the books on library shelves. They are quite careful not to promise an online reading experience….” and says that “we have little idea how the digitized books will be used.” She then raises some important questions:

…who does this digitized library serve? How does it serve users? How will the system respond when there are ten million books in a database and a user enters the query “civil war”?

…Will some users read these books online in spite of the relative inconvenience of their formats and the computer screen’s technology? Will it be possible to use the digitized pages to produce something more e-book like?

In a related article, (An ATM for books, By Emily Maltby, FORTUNE Small Business Magazine, December 14 2006) Maltby describes Espresso – a $50,000 vending machine that is “nearly consumer-ready” that will debut in ten to 25 libraries and bookstores in 2007. “The machine can print, align, mill, glue and bind two books simultaneously in less than seven minutes.” All this sounds very similar to the Internet Archive Bookmobile.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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