Who should digitize?

I’d love to think that, as a country, the United States can be innovative when it comes to library land. We have a relatively tech-savvy population, a large population with high literacy rates, and the Library of Congress (the best kind of subject classification EVER).

However, it would appear that we are still behind the times in many things. One thing that strikes me as important is the digital library movement. Last summer, I took a seminar course on the digital divide. It was an interesting course, and further encouraged me into looking into solutions for the digital divide – namely, mobile computing via smartphones.

Today, I’m not here to talk about this kind of divide – between the haves and the havenots of technology. Rather, I’m interested in the idea of the digital library divide. As mentioned in the below cited New York Times article, this divide is a result of other countries digitizing their collections at a rate much faster than the Library of Congress has down. Also, these initiatives are being conducted by government agencies – the culture of a country is being preserved by the government.

In the United States, one of the biggest movements towards a universal digital collection was spearheaded by Google – doesn’t something feel wrong seeing a private organization be in charge of digitization cultural artifacts? Granted, these items were limited in scope to books, but at the same time – they have the technology!

I think it’s about time that we really focus on creating a digital library. While there are examples out there, they tend to be limited – not truly a library, but a collection of links. I guess in the digital age, we can think of links and web pages as the new books….but at the same time, I’d like to see someone take on the task of recreating a library digitally – books, collections, magazines, and all. Nothing fancy – doesn’t need to be in Second Life or whatever virtual world is hip now. Do it people! I demand innovation of people!

A Digital Library Race, and Playing Catch-Up – NYTimes.com.

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