Complete Story


Along Came Google

A history of library digitization

I can remember exactly what I was doing on Dec. 14, 2004. That was the day that Google announced its Library Project (soon to be known as Google Book Search), and the information community was buzzing about the significance. I spent the day synthesizing news accounts of what the project entailed and stayed later than usual in the office, waiting for a final clarifying detail to come from a librarian at Stanford before hitting the “send” button on a post to the NFAIS listserv. 

In 2004, there was still some uncertainty as to which of the various internet giants was going to be dominant. Amazon had announced earlier in the year that its A9 search tool had emerged from its beta phase. The integration of the A9 search tool with the Amazon website allowed students to rapidly uncover content from digitized versions of book titles, stored by Amazon for the purposes of encouraging sales, while also retrieving usefully relevant web content.

For example, if an undergraduate used the system to research the notorious Civil War prisons Andersonville and Elmira, results returned could include a snippet from a published title (as part of Amazon’s Search Inside the Book feature) alongside relevant web-based content supplied by the National Park Service. Engineered by Udi Manber, A9 was viewed as an exciting innovation in surfacing and selling print products. 

Please select this link to read the complete article from The Scholarly Kitchen.

Printer-Friendly Version