The mass digitization of large volumes of books has begun. The initiative which is being spearheaded by Google will be carried out in five major US libraries. The goal of mass digitization is not to create collections but to digitize everything, or in this case, every book ever printed. To do this economically and with some speed, mass digitization is based on the efficient photographing of books, page-by-page, and subjecting those images to optical character recognition (OCR) software to produce searchable text.
So why digitize books? We must accept that majority of knowledge and information in the world over is found in books, scrolls and or manuscripts. Since time immemorial, our history has been recorded by mankind in written formats in hope of learning from those who had a foresight to record and teaching the future generations of their history.
The recent technologies that were developed in mid 20th Centaury have provided mankind with not only unique opportunities to digitize information but to also disseminate it via a number of channels using a variety of dissemination tools.
Mass digitization of books is a very great initiative by Google because, given the fact that people are slowly but steadily moving from manual systems to computerized systems, it will be a great Idea to access a book of one’s choice online. It will also make it possible for more books to be utilized other than having them shelved for years. In other words, the readership of some books will increase.
However, there are negative implications of this mass digitization of books by Google. How much will Google charge the people accessing these books online given the fact that they have practically “copied” them and duplicated them from University libraries at no cost?