Thursday, February 16, 2006

Book Digitization - India's answer to Google, Microsoft

Google is pushing ahead with its much hyped up and highly controversial book digitization project. The company said it aimed to make every printed book as accessible as a click to a website, with the ability to search through the entire book looking for a particular phrase or word. To make this happen, Google signed up the University of Stanford, Michigan, Harvard, Oxford — and the New York Public Library — all of whom agreed to let Google digitise their holdings and make them searchable. That opened up a Pandora's box with Google getting into legal wrangles with the book publishers.
India too, has started a book digitization intiative. Here the initiative for the drive is non-commercial, though and has complete government backing. The aim of the project, named the 'Digital Library of India', launched in 2004, is chiefly to preserve the rich legacy of the printed word in India.
The Digital Library of India was launched with the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science as the nodal agency with the backing of the Union ministry of Communication and Information Technology and the U.S.-based Carnegie Mellon University.
Repositories of rare collections including Kanchi University, Sringeri Mutt, the Academy of Sanskrit Research at Melkote near Mysore, the Tirumala-Tirupathi Devasthanam, SASTRA Tanjore, various Tibetan monasteries as well as Rastrapathi Bhavan have been translated and can be found at the DLI project site, who partnered with these institutions.
In a separate initiative, the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi has also begun digitising its huge collection of half a million titles including a priceless collection of newspaper cuttings.
State-level initiatives include the digitising of all 17 volumes of Epigraphia Carnatica, with help from the Indian Council of Historical Research. Mysore is also home to the Vidyanidhi project, which seeks to create a single national database of PhD dissertations.

It surely makes more sense if each country's government took initiativeslike these. Not only are they a step to protect national treasures, but also can be extended to prevent monopolies like Google and Microsoft from commercializing the works of thousands of authors and making money without sensing the need to pay anyone.

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