Magazine article American Libraries

Yahoo, European Union Announce Digital Library Projects

Magazine article American Libraries

Yahoo, European Union Announce Digital Library Projects

Article excerpt

In the wake of Google's plan to digitize books from libraries and provide access to their contents through its search engine, Yahoo has announced that it will join with the University of California, the University of Toronto, and others to digitize large collections of books and make them searchable through any search engine and downloadable for free.

The project, to be run by the newly formed Open Content Alliance (OCA), will scan and digitize only texts in the public domain, except where the copyright holder has expressly given permission. In contrast, the Google Print for Libraries project plans to include works that are under copyright, although copyright holders can choose to withhold their books from the program; it has met with objections from publishers' and authors' groups, who dispute Google's claim that the digitizing falls under the fair use doctrine.

In addition to the two universities, content for the OCA project will come from the United Kingdom's National Archives, O'Reilly Media, and the European Archive. The nonprofit Internet Archive will host the digitized material, scanning technology will be provided by Hewlett-Packard, and Adobe Systems will supply licenses for its Acrobat and Photoshop software.

"Bringing the treasures of our libraries and archives to a worldwide readership is in the interest of many organizations," said Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle. "The Internet Archive along with the other founding members of the OCA invite interested organizations to join the effort and help fulfill this digital dream."

David Greenstein, university librarian for the California Digital Library, said the OCA project differs from Google's in its emphasis on open access and the open availability of the metadata, all of which will be harvestable. The program "takes the approach of information as a public good rather than as a commodity," he told American Libraries, adding that such a course needn't be "anticommerce."

Greenstein called the OCA effort "evolutionary," observing that all the participants in the "three-legged stool"--content providers, technology providers, and the Internet Archive--are working together to shape the project.

Europe jumps in

Another ambitious digitization project was announced September 30 when the European Commission unveiled a plan to digitize and preserve Europe's books, films, photographs, manuscripts, speeches, and music.

"Without a collective memory, we are nothing, and can achieve nothing. It defines our identity and we use it continuously for education, work, and leisure," said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. "The internet is the most powerful new tool we have had for storing and sharing information since the Gutenberg press, so let's use it to make the material in Europe's libraries and archives accessible to all."

The commission acknowledged that digitization projects are already underway in the member states, but called them fragmented. It called for member states and cultural institutions to join the European Union initiative in order to avoid the creation of mutually incompatible systems and duplication of effort.

The announcement follows a proposal in April from six European leaders for what they called a "European digital library" (AL, June/July, p. …

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