First NetLibrary.com now questia. E-texts in abbundance to provide new challenges to public libraries.
Questia is building an online service to provide access to the full text of hundreds of thousands of books, journals and periodicals, as well as tools to easily use this information. Their primary market appears to be liberal arts undergraduates that prefer the net to the physical library and have amounts of money to burn. As an after thought, they may market to libraries, both public and academic.
Questia is slated for opening in 2001. Questia expects to have 50,000 volumes digitized in early 2001 and is projected to have over 250,000 within three years. According to them, that’s greater than the number of volumes in over 80 percent of all academic libraries in the United States.
The Questia interface will allow students to search, access and interact with thousands of important books and journals from anywhere: from home, from the computer lab or anywhere else they connect to the Internet. The Questia service will have, they say the most valued volumes in the liberal arts from the 20th and 21st centuries (not including textbooks).
Anyone will be able to search Questia at no cost to locate books and journals. But to experience the ease and convenience of online viewing of full text and the unique research tools of the Questia service, users will need to subscribe. The collection will be searchable by a word, phrase or concept.
Questia says it will allow simultaneous access by an unlimited number of people to a given book at any given time. It will also allow the ability to view, copy and paste text from any page of any book. It will also have tools that allow you to compose and save papers online.
The Questia search function, they add, is to be offered to all at no charge. It will allow librarians or professors to find the exact volumes and pages that can answer a student’s question. Because the research process is more efficient and less cumbersome.
Are we in libraries ready for this new century? I still think the challenges make it a great time to be a librarian!
Thomas J. Hennen Jr.
6014 Spring Street