Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Scanning of Libraries

The New York Times had an article on Monday about the various initiatives underway to copy books from the world's libraries.

Several major research libraries have rebuffed offers from Google and Microsoft to scan their books into computer databases, saying they are put off by restrictions these companies want to place on the new digital collections. . . Libraries that agree to work with Google must agree to a set of terms, which include making the material unavailable to other commercial search services. Microsoft places a similar restriction on the books it converts to electronic form. The Open Content Alliance, by contrast, is making the material available to any search service.

I first posted about the Open Content Alliance almost two years ago here.

The Times points out that, while Google doesn't benefit directly from making books available on the Internet, the additional pages on their website does make their search engine more useful and, thus, more profitable. Google plans to scan 15 million books in the next ten years.

The Boston Public Library and the Smithsonian have turned Google's invitation down . . . "some libraries and researchers worry that if any one company comes to dominate the digital conversion of these works, it could exploit that dominance for commercial gain."

The Library of Congress has a pilot program with Google to digitize some books. But in January, it announced a project with a more inclusive approach. With $2 million from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the library’s first mass digitization effort will make 136,000 books accessible to any search engine through the Open Content Alliance. The library declined to comment on its future digitization plans.

Read the entire article here.

No comments: