The Infinite Library

By , October 12, 2010 4:51 pm

by Kristine Lloyd

What would it mean to have a library that anyone could access from anywhere? Would it be like the Library of Congress on steroids, with full-text books and serials? These are some of the questions that bear asking when discussing the prospect of a national digital library. And no, this does not mean Google.

In his article “A Library without Walls,” Robert Darnton discusses some of the advantages of having a national digital library, along with some of the potential roadblocks to establishing one, such as cost and copyright, the latter of which has certainly hampered the Google Books project. The author points out that many countries have digitization projects underway. The Netherlands, France and Japan are a few of the countries that are working to create national digital libraries. The Japanese have ambitiously decided to digitize their entire national library in two years. That sounds like an around-the-clock project to me. These are all smaller countries, and one wonders whether our country is just too large to actually coordinate such a project. Of course, Google has already made significant headway, hitting the 12 million mark of books digitized. And so it seems that Google Books is the closest thing we have to a National Digital Library. That will end the day they start charging consumers for access.

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