Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Google + LC = World Digital Library

CNN posted a story today about Google giving $3 Million to the Library of Congress to build a "World Digital Library" that Librarian of Congress James Billington said would be, "an attempt to go beyond Europe and the Americas ... into cultures where the majority of the world is."
The story references the American Memory Project that LC has been working on for some time. I can say from personal experience that American Memory is an amazing digital resource. I used it last semester to search the Library's collection of Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper of the U.S. Armed Forces during the Great War, for a project on Camp Libraries. If the proposed World Digital Library turns out as well as the American Memory Project and really does have the global focus Billington describes, I'm excited for the research opportunities it will provide us and our patrons.
An interesting tidbit hidden in the article says Google will, "work with the Library of Congress on developing standards for indexing the digital collections ..." I'm curious to see how this will develop and to see what effect, if any, Google's influence on this project will have on the way we are currently cataloging and indexing digital materials.



Barbara said...

Thanks for that link, Emily! I hadn't seen it yet. This is a very interesting development. I wonder how those in Europe (the outspoken head of the Biblioteque Nationale in France comes to mind)who worry that Google is colonizing the world cultural landscape will respond.

There are lots of indexing and searching issues with these marvelous digital collections that is worth thinking about. Too often you have to know where they are and what's inside to take advantage of them. American Memory is so rich it's overwhelming.

Thanks for jumping in, Emily! Nice to have another LIS student joining the conversation.

Alec said...

Not only are there questions about indexing and making accessible electronic resources, the far more important issue in my mind is sustainability. There are so many digital projects that were funded through one-time grants only to later shut down due to lack of funding or staff to maintain them. Another sustainability issue is the question of archival-quality and open standards file formats; will the applications of the future be able to read these files?

These issues are only the tip of the iceberg. Digitization is a costly, longterm commitment. Digitization is not preservation, at least not yet.