"Massive Digital Libraries (MDLs): Issues and Outcomes from the Mass-Digitization of Books" offered for free access

Can all Libraries be Prepared in Moving Library Patrons to the Digital World?

By Elizabeth Leber on Aug 10, 2017
Digital futuristic image Greta Van Susteren, a well-known cable television news personality, famously Tweeted: “Colleges should stop building vanity projects like huge libraries and billing students - full libraries are on our smartphones!” If you were to focus on the absurdity in that first part, you might miss the kernel of truth in the second. There are more texts online than one could possibly read in a lifetime. Google Books claims to contain over 30 million books; HathiTrust holds over 15 million; the Internet Archive holds 12 million along with audio recordings, video games and approximately 452 billion archived webpages. We are awash in a flood of digital texts and the rate continues to grow.

The article titled “Massive Digital Libraries (MDLs): Issues and Outcomes from the Mass-Digitization of Books” examines the impact from the mass digitization of print books. The article outlines the roots of such mass digitization projects and their impact on libraries, reading, copyright law, conducting research, the fixity of truth and the magnification of errors, and the more tenuous grip that digital objects may have with reality compared to their physical counterparts. The chapter appears in the Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Fourth Edition, edited by Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, which is the newest version of this acclaimed Encyclopedia from IGI Global.

The famed library of Alexandria looks puny in comparison to the depth and breadth of digitized books available, many of which are in the public domain and copyright free. So why should we bother with print anymore, especially since it seems to some as ancient as scrolls or parchment? Why not move entirely to the web and cut out the inconvenience and expense of print materials? Why bother with libraries, especially when just about everything might be online, and they are so expensive to maintain? Taking this logic to its extreme, the next steps would appear to be: cut our costs, eliminate costly white elephants and then buy a smartphone for everyone.

But is this a feasible or even a desirable path? There are approximately 130 million print books. Google has 100 million texts to go to complete their universal library. Yet the quality of their scans leaves much to be desired. The comprehensiveness of the collection is skewed. Metadata is error prone. So what other problems besides poor scanning arise when we rely too much on e-books? Who benefits and who is inconvenienced when e-books become the primary source of content? What happens with books that are not in the English language or are constructed of materials that are difficult to digitize? What happens if the books are not accessible due to copyright restrictions, metadata errors or sub-standard scanning? Ultimately, who pays for a poorly implemented or incomplete digital collection?

Access “Massive Digital Libraries (MDLs): Issues and Outcomes from the Mass-Digitization of Books” for free to learn more.

Dr. Weiss joins over 1,100 other international experts in sharing his expertise for the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Fourth Edition. His is one of 705 new and original articles discussing innovative concepts and ideas, as well as predicting future advancements to the rapidly evolving field of information science and technology. Covering over 80 timely and trending categories, the content contained in this reference source is integral for furthering research in the field and is an essential addition to every academic, corporate, and joint-use library worldwide.
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