Announcing Open Library

Someone asked me during one of my talks if I knew of any projects that were actually trying to open source cataloging records and the idea of authority records. I said I didn’t, not really. It’s a weird juxtaposition, the idea of authority and the idea of a collaborative project that anyone can work on and modify. I knew there were some folks at the Internet Archive working on something along those lines, but the project was under wraps for quite some time. Now, it’s not. Its called Open Library and it’s in demo mode. You can examine it and I encourage you to do that and give lots of feedback to the developers. Make sure to check the “about the librarianship” page

Imagine a library that collected all the world’s information about all the world’s books and made it available for everyone to view and update. We’re building that library.

Open Library/Open Content Alliance announcement from

Hi. This is the presentation that Andrea and I are watching right now in San Francisco. The Open Library. Brewster Kahle is talking now and doing a book scanning demonstration. I like how he says “librarians” a lot.

Vision of an Open Library

The Web is So post-1996, what about older content?

Everyone is part of it: Amazon helps “expand the bookstore” but we’re looking for inclusivity.

“A great library for the published works of humankind, accessible to all… everybody involved… libraries LIVE based on the publishing system, they will be involved.”

3 to 4 billion of the 12 billion libraries spend every year goes to publishing. Let’s have more of that go to fairly compensating everyone.

“For the near term, we’re making books from books.” It’s hard to digitze a book that looks like the original, this is the proof that can work.

1. Selection. librarians choose books. Start with out of copyright materials, work towards in print, orphans next. “we’re not going to run out”
2. Scanning. 500 dpi “scribe system” 30-60 min per book. “we can read a 2 pt typeface, straight on” metadata, saved to archive
3. Cataloging. Use library data and coordinate between scanning centers using MetaFetch. Groups like RLG are coordinating.
4. Copyright. Copyright law is “a little confusing” Evidence based interface allows a Q&A “is this book under copyright” interrogation. Many books not re-registered copyright-wise. Already scanned copyright renewal records into a searchable database. Larry Lessig is bringing a suit re: orphan works and whether they can be in the virtual library. Other for-profits are working back the other way. It’s “tricky but doable”
5. Storage. 6 GB per book, hard to scale. Built a petabyte-scale machine “petabox” [I saw it] low power, runs cool, “set top boxes” not full computers with OSes etc. Object is not to have one box in an earthquake zone, but distributed system in flood zones & elsewhere.
6. Readers. Software. Check it out at UC librarians chose early set of books already scanned. Also looking into PDFs for printing. Also working with for print on demand. Also, you can listen to these books.

Other mentioned projects: ICDL, Internet Archive Bookmobile [buck a book!]. BookShare will use this content for access for the blind. $100 laptop will be integrating books from this project onto their laptops [big news!]. Open Content Alliance to create protocols and formats.

Brewster Kahle: “I don’t know what it will be like to have books from our libraries injected into our culture again, but I’d like to see it”

“Knowledge for the World” is the mantra that all the funders [on and off the podium, 30 seconds each: Smithsonian (museums/content), Yahoo, Sloan Foundation (funding), Johns Hopkins (content/tech), RLG (cataloging), Adobe (display/doc formatting), HP (scan), LizardTech (data compression), (printing), MSN Search (search/funding) etc]

Guy from Yahoo “Finally a library I won’t get thrown out of” and “Find, use, share, and expand all human knowledge”

Andrea has more, including some links that I missed.