Computers in Libraries (CIL) 2011 Keynote Monday, March 21st

Computers in Libraries (CIL) Monday, March 21st

Keynote Speaker – James Crawford, Google Books

Crawford spoke at lunch, since his plane was late in the morning.  He discussed the process of creating digitized books, which includes scanning, image processing, OCR, tagging, metadata, rank and index.  Two cameras are used to scan the books as they are placed in a cradle.  The goal is to scan the book and do no more damage than a normal reading of the book would do.  An image process is needed since the initial image is warped, due to the book not being in a flat position.

Google Books has some 40 partners, mostly research institutions, digitizing their collections, and has digitized over 15 million books.  These books include over 447 languages.  The oldest book is around 1483.  Once print books are scanned, digital copy is given to the library.

Some problems encountered:  diversity of dates, missing pages or dogeared pages, problems with metadata, e.g. Fellowship of the Rings is the same as Lord of the Rings, vol. 1.

The largest part of the Google Books database are books that are out-of-print, but still under copyright.  These books allow only a small section to be read.  Smaller sections include public domain books, in print books, and the smallest:  books with clear ownership of digital rights.

Google’s core goal is to organize the world’s books.  It gives each book it’s own web page, which is suppose to be the best place to go for information on that book.  From the web page, the book should be able to be bought anywhere, read anywhere, and should be siloed to work with only one reading device.  Crawford maintains that digital rights is the single largest bottleneck to the breadth of content for eBooks, and that the digital books corpus will enable a new world of humanities research.

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