When Google launched its Library Project in end-2004, there was furore everywhere. Publishers and authors were apprehensive that Google’s book search program would gatecrash into their territory. At that time there was no clear indication or guideline as to how Google’s Library Project would shape up. This added to more confusion.
In any case, Google remained undeterred and continued working on the project. It proclaimed that the aim of the project is simply to create a comprehensive database of all books in all languages. Oh my! Pause awhile and imagine – of all Google search projects – how massive would that be! And indeed so it was. No wonder, when it got off ground, John Wilkin of University of Michigan supposedly exclaimed, “This is the day the world changes”.
Today, Google’s Book Search is inching toward success. No, it does not overstep into publishers’ or writers’ domains. All it does is listing (upon your querying) relevant books and other resources, so that you now have a one-stop platform looking for all your ‘bookish’ requirements.
Since a project of such gigantic proportion needs an ongoing liaison with publishers and libraries, Google is open to chalk out partnership with them. Something of that sort seems to be happening with our very own National Library. Yesterday’s The Telegraph reports that the library will shortly start ‘retro-conversion, digitization and CD conversion and cataloguing’ of more than 3 million publications that it has, including ‘books, magazines, journals, maps and Indian and foreign documents’. There is urgency for digitization, and it may just be that there is a plan to tie up with Google.
If it turns out to be so, Google must be pretty happy to connect with the enviable treasure of the National Library, said to be the largest public library in greater part of Asia. That its treasure is likely to come out of closet to be available online is a great news. In the process, National Library too can hope to earn a tidy sum. Who knows one day it’ll become independent of govt help.