The Infinite Library

The Death of Libraries?: From the May 2005

"At most libraries, the hand-typed card catalogues thumbed by generations of patrons have been supplanted by electronic indexes accessed via PCs locally or over the Web. Now that Google has agreed to scan millions of books from five major libraries and to make their contents searchable on the Web—a project that experts say is likely to yield spinoff technologies that drastically lower the costs of digitization and catalyze similar efforts worldwide—can the disappearance of libraries themselves be far behind?"

Probably not, The Infinite Library, by Wade Roush, takes a good long look at how digitization is changing libraries.

"Industry has resources to invest that we don’t have anymore and never will have," points out Gary Strong, university librarian at the University of California, Los Angeles, which has its own aggressive digitization programs. "And they've come to libraries because we have massive repositories of information. So we’re natural partners in this venture, and we all bring different skills to the table. But we’re redefining the table itself. Now that we’re defining new channels of access, how do we make sure all this information is usable?"

Comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

There's some good stuff in here.

They begin by describing The Bodleian as a place that houses ancient texts, but fail to notice the durability paper offers over bits and bytes."Most librarians and archivists are ecstatic about the announcement, saying it will likely be remembered as the moment in history when society finally got serious about making knowledge ubiquitous. Brewster Kahle, founder of a nonprofit digital library known as the Internet Archive, calls Google’s move “huge....It legitimizes the whole idea of doing large-volume digitization.� This is an odd little paragraph. What do they mean " got serious about making knowledge ubiquitous" Isn't that what we've always done? And how does this legitimize digitization? I thought Kahle himself did that years ago. Google might have made a bigger splash, and attracted more attention, but hasn’t' digitization been legitimate for ages now?"Whatever happens, transforming millions more books into bits is sure to change the habits of library patrons."And therein lies the heart of the matter! Are the patrons current habits driving how we are changing, or we just assuming this is what they want? Are we changing them, or are they changing us? They've always come into the library and worked within our odd little systems, now maybe we're presenting information in a way they can use without needing to learn how we think things should work.“Industry has resources to invest that we don’t have anymore and never will have,� points out Gary Strong, university librarian at the University of California, Los Angeles, which has its own aggressive digitization programs. “And they’ve come to libraries because we have massive repositories of information. So we’re natural partners in this venture, and we all bring different skills to the table. But we’re redefining the table itself. Now that we’re defining new channels of access, how do we make sure all this information is usable?�A neat little paragraph. This relates to what I pointed out about, we're doing this for people, how are we going to make sure they can use it? How's it useable, who's going to use it?Be sure you read on down to Kahle’s 3 Doors.Door One: Corbis, Door Two: Human Genome Project, Door Three: Internet Archive. Neat stuff, Kahle is a genius, and his ideas here are right on target.Overall is a pretty decent article, one of the better I've read. There's plenty more things to pick at in there, but it does a good job of covering some interesting issues.

Syndicate content