Mass book digitization ... is causing an industrial scale revolution, effecting big changes in technology, services and use, and big changes in libraries," according to Tefko Saracevic, a professor in the School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey. His keynote speech opened the discussions at the Libraries in the Digital Age (LIDA) meeting, held May 24-28 in Zadar, Croatia. In his keynote titled "The Book Is Dead! Long Live the Book! Reflections on Ebooks: Diversity, Growth, Use," Saracevic said, "Ebooks are the fastest and most massive globally spreading books in book history." This literary explosion is a result of the interaction among ebooks (producers and vendors), e-readers (physical and virtual), and ebook users (institutions and individuals). Mass digitization projects such as Project Gutenberg, Million Book Project, and Google Books are now in their second generation, paving the way for the next generation of software that will include "interaction in ebooks," providing a huge advantage over print books.
The battle of e-readers continues, as Saracevic compared the features of the Amazon Kindle, the Sony Reader, and the Apple iPad. The lack of standards and interoperability was seen as one of the most pressing issues that users and the industry are facing.
But there were some advantages of ebooks for libraries in terms of operations (ebooks can't be stolen, they have an automatic circulation, and no additional space requirements are needed) and access (they are available 24/7, with a high demand that is easily managed among many concurrent users) as well as disadvantages (they are expensive, with a high level of technology that requires new competencies by users; print is still the major part of all libraries). The use of ebooks in universities is increasing, but it still depends on the academic discipline. Saracevic said that ebooks are succeeding because of several factors: High-profile projects have made more ebooks available, they have increased public availability and interest, they let libraries include them in OPACs, and they offer better readers and software. He also noted that there is a "dark side" of ebooks because acceptance is based on the availability of the technology, and the digital divide for developing countries will only increase.
Keynote speaker Gary Marchionini, dean at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Cary C. Boshamer, distinguished professor at the same university, presented a scenario for the management and preservation of massive amounts of personal data with institutional libraries. He defined the typical content of such collections (photos, digital videos, textual data, webpages, health records, and so forth) within the context of "life logging" and described what data could actually be stored on a terabyte (i.e., 64,000 JPEGs at 1.4m). He also discussed the possibility of linking personal data (i.e., photos) to local heritage collections in institutional digital libraries.
The cost implications for personal storage and maintenance for an individual or service from an institution showed a clear advantage for institutional use, including the benefits of security and maintenance of applications software over time. He predicted these types of services would soon become available.
In subsequent discussions, Saracevic said that most of his research data compiled before 1985 was lost when university file cabinets were taken away and noted that Marchionini's proposed project would alleviate such losses in the future.
Guest of honor Edward A. Fox, director of the Digital Library Research Laboratory at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, Va., discussed the notion of supporting scholarship about humans through content and services, with an emphasis on humanism and the humanities. …