There’s an interesting project afoot in a collaboration between the Institute for the Future of the Book and the Digital Library Federation on the purpose and nature of mass digitization efforts.

Over the course of this month, starting Thursday in Los Angeles, we’re holding a series of three invited brainstorm sessions (the second in London, the third in New York) with an eclectic assortment of creative thinkers from the arts, publishing, media, design, academic and library worlds to better wrap our minds around the problems and sketch out some concrete ideas for intervention. . . . Please feel encouraged to post responses, both to the individual questions and to the project concept as a whole. Also please add your own queries, observations or advice.

The goal of this project is to shed light on the big questions about future accessibility and usability of analog culture in a digital, networked world.

We are in the midst of a historic “upload,” a frenetic rush to transfer the vast wealth of analog culture to the digital domain. Mass digitization of print, images, sound and film/video proceeds apace through the efforts of actors public and private, and yet it is still barely understood how the media of the past ought to be preserved, presented and interconnected for the future. How might we bring the records of our culture with us in ways that respect the originals but also take advantage of new media technologies to enhance and reinvent them?

Our aim with the Really Modern Library project is not to build a physical or even a virtual library, but to stimulate new thinking about mass digitization and, through the generation of inspiring new designs, interfaces and conceptual models, to spur innovation in publishing, media, libraries, academia and the arts.

The post at if:book raises a number of interesting questions about how we read and what the future of digital texts will be. This project, along with Siva Viadyanathan’s Googlization of Everything project (and, for that matter, Cory Doctorow’s Scroogled) articulate issuses librarians need to be thinking about.

Author: Barbara Fister

I'm an academic librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Like all librarians at our small, liberal arts institution I am involved in reference, collection development, and shared management of the library. My area of specialization is instruction, with research interests also in media literacy, popular literacy, publishing, and assessment.

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