In what has become an arms races towards the freedom of information and knowledge for all, the European Union has announced the launch of its new universal library project called Europeana. The scope of the project is ambitious, to have 10 million books online for 2010. We can only celebrate and praise all the institutions that in one project or another are attempting to the systematization and free distribution of human knowledge. So long live the Europeana and the legacy of the Universal Digital Library and Google books.
“Though Google, Microsoft and the Internet Archive all have launched major book digitization projects, the Million Book Project represents the world’s largest, university-based digital library of freely accessible books. At least half of its books are out of copyright, or were digitized with the permission of the copyright holders, so the complete texts are or eventually will be available free.” (www.physorg.com/news115383203.html) From the website: “The mission is to create a Universal Library which will foster creativity and free access to all human knowledge. As a first step in realizing this mission, it is proposed to create the Universal Library with a free-to-read, searchable collection of one million books, available to everyone over the Internet. Within 10 years, it is our expectation that the collection will grow to 10 Million books. The result will be a unique resource accessible to anyone in the world 24×7, without regard to nationality or socioeconomic background.One of the goals of the Universal Library is to provide support for full text indexing and searching based on OCR (optical character recognition) technologies where available. The availability of online search allows users to locate relevant information quickly and reliably thus enhancing student’s success in their research endeavors. This 24×7 resource would also provide an excellent test bed for language processing research in areas such as machine translation, summarization, intelligent indexing, and information retrieval. www.ulib.org