Digital library night

Last Sunday I made my way down to the Hillside Club on Cedar for Berkeley Cybersalon: Libraries and the Future. I had no idea what I was getting into but figured it had to be better than TV. Besides, I don't get out enough.

Daniel Greenstein, president, the California Digital Libraries Initiative, explained the economics of research publications; it's not a pretty picture. Since '86, inflation has risen 75%; the fee for research journals is up 400%. A majority of the pubs are sold in "baskets" by commercial publishers. Changing things will involve faculty shunning the price-gougers. This is the same argument corporate training managers face. Vendors want to sell the whole store; customers want only what they want.













Anne Lipow, director of the Library Solutions Institute, is concerned about the human element in research libraries. Research librarians are often idle, awaiting patrons' queries. They can point people to the best sources, save time, and improve the quality of research. Where do librarians fit n the digital world? This, too, has a direct analogy in the training world. There the question is, "What happens to the instructors?" The answer is that some of them before facilitators, guides, coaches, and organizers, both online and in the real world. In the Information Age, surely there's a role for librarians -- so long as they don't refuse to budge from their comfort zone behind the counter.

Brewster Kahle, founder of The Internet Archive, was the real treat, an enthusiastic visionary. His goal is universal access to all knowledge, and he has plans on how to get there.

    • How much is there? 100 million titles (the Library of Congress has 26 million).
    • How can we access it? No matter where Brewster finds himself, he's always a one-day walk or less from an Internet cafe.
    • How to capture the info? It takes about 2 hours to scan a book. This doesn't cost much in India.
    • How to distribute the books? Vans outfitted with computers, scanners, etc., are printing books on demand in India, Egypt, Uganda.... Kids have 100,000 books to choose from. Production cost is $1/book. These are often the first book a kid ever owns.

Off line, Brewster described what it would take for universal access, Mind you, the Web is growing by a couple of terabytes a month. To capture the world's knowledge, Brewster sees the need for six locations with a petabyte of storage and gigabit/second access. Whew! Brewster is founder of the Internet Archive. See How the Wayback Machine Works. Before that, he came up with WAIS and Alexa.

Brewster is founder of the Internet Archive. See How the Wayback Machine Works. Before that, he came up with WAIS and Alexa.


Posted by Jay Cross at November 19, 2003 07:03 PM | TrackBack
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