[Web4lib] Book-scanning projects - a question

Melissa Belvadi mbelvadi at upei.ca
Fri Jul 9 16:15:14 EDT 2010

Hi, I didn't see a response from anyone else, so I thought I'd jump in.

First, we at UPEI are engaged in a digitization project called
IslandLives that involves in-copyright books. But it's a "niche"
project, and many of the books are barely above vanity press, primarily
local genealogy books about families and community histories here on
Prince Edward Island. But it's an interesting project anyway, using a
huge collection of books about local history to build in essence a Web
2.0 user-editable database of local history and families. 
http://www.islandlives.ca/  By the way, with the exception of the
ABBYY OCR software, I think everything we're using for this is open

As to all the other projects, consider the argument that the older
stuff is the harder stuff for scholars to find or get. Lots of nearby
libraries will have, or can get via ILL, books within the last 50 years.
But the stuff that forces scholars to spend money to travel physically
to other cities and countries may disproportionately also be the stuff
that libraries are digitizing.  And for undergrads and even some grad
students, that can mean access to primary sources that they'd otherwise
just never include in their work.

So no, it's not equivalent to building a physical library at all,
because the lack of physical place restriction is exactly the point.

I'll certainly accept an argument that I'm rationalizing here, though.
We surely all wish we could just digitize it all for everyone!

By the way, a lot of libraries are also scanning non-books. We have two
other big digitization projects going on which significantly enhance
usability of the material for local as well as remote users. The first
is IslandImagined, which is a map-scanning project using some very
clever zoom and overlay functions to enable users to see change in the
maps over time. We're talking huge historical maps, not just book-sized
stuff (we have some seriously cool scanning equipment and awesome staff
who know how to use it). 

The second (which doesn't have a clever "Island" name yet that I know
of) is scanning the microfilm of the most important local newspaper here
in Charlottetown. We're working with the publisher so that we have
rights to some early 1900s years that are still in copyright, as well as
the 1800s. I don't have to tell you how much better digital is than
microfilm, if it's done technically well.

Melissa Belvadi
University of Prince Edward Island
mbelvadi at upei.ca

>>> On 7/1/2010 at 12:45 PM, "B.G. Sloan" <bgsloan2 at yahoo.com> wrote: 

> Here's something I've always been curious about...
> Most of the book-scanning projects are focusing on digitizing works
in the 
> public domain, right? And the public domain is basically books
> before 1923, right?
> So, aren't most of these projects the equivalent of building a
> library collection of pre-1923 books?
> I realize that Google is THE big exception here. They're scanning 
> in-copyright works. But it remains to be seen, pending the Google
> settlement, what sort of access we all will get to these works.
Google may 
> well wind up being largely a pre-1923 library collection, with some
> regarding access to the full text of post-1923 works.
> Anyway, like I said...something I've always been curious about, so I
> I'd finally ask. :-)
> Bernie Sloan

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