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Digital Libraries

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We are living in a world where everything has been revolutionized by the onset of the digitalization. What was once found to be so impossible to reach can be found in an instant at the touch of a button or at the click of a mouse. Educations, trade, transport, all aspects of our daily lives have been affected by the current trend in digitalization. It is important to take into account all the good that has come with the onset of this revolution. Education in all areas from the most basic means to the most complex has had numerous applications created to assist the learners through all stages of study. Today it is not uncommon to find students visiting libraries in their respective institutions of learning or even in their local areas of living. The only difference between the libraries of today and those of yester years is the way in which people access the information that is found in those libraries.

            A library is basically a place where there is a rich and very extensive collection of books that one can access for either private studies, research or just to read for once pleasure. People have also been visiting libraries to access any kind of information since all the periodicals and journals and also magazines spanning all areas of specialization can be found there. There were always bookshelves that spanned the whole lengths of the library areas and these were filled with tomes and more tomes of books. This is becoming a different scenario in the current libraries. The onset of computers has enabled libraries to use computer operations and applications in the management and operations of their books and other areas of operations. The continuous evolvement of computers and mobile tablets and networks has brought all the possible things around the world nearer to the people who use these computers and other digital instruments throughout their daily lives. Digitalization has been embraced by the increasingly busy populace and techno savvy generation that is pushing companies to come up with new ways and means to offer even better applications for the people to explore. What was the latest trend yesterday turns almost absolute today and is basically ancient tomorrow, thus the need to keep updating to the latest trends.

            People today are reading but in a totally different way. It is now uncommon to find a person sitting somewhere reading a book. Most of the movies today that are based on written works tend to attract more people when the story is turned into a movie. A study done by The University of Michigan found that more than 90% of the respondents would rather sit and watch a movie than sit and read the original book that the movie was based on. This is basically due to the fast paced lifestyles that people are leading today. No one has the time anymore to sit and peruse an entire book if they had the choice of just clicking away at a page on a tablet and accessing the same information. We find that even as students we only read the chapter that is relevant to the kind of work that we are doing. We no longer read an entire book unless it is relevant to the class work or examinations that we expect to sit for. Making a search on the internet with the title or the relevant word relating to the work of research that we are intending to do will generate numerous responses that one can then use to come up with the relevant research they intended to come up with. This has over the time made people lazy since they rely on accessing information that is easily available and that is only relevantly related to hat they are doing. Anything that is not available on the internet today becomes second fiddle to that which is found easily on the internet. This is a trend that has picked momentum and is nowhere near stopping thus all the new materials is being made in such a way that more and more people can access it on the internet.

            Libraries have not been left behind in this mad dash to become digitalized. Since the percentage of people who seek to read a book in its paperback edition is already becoming smaller, it has necessitated organizations to think outside the box in terms of offering technology savvy information sources that will still make the people to visit the libraries. Books have been in print from time immemorial. These books contain information that is relevant in today’s world and there is a notion that some books will not have any readers since they will be forgotten once the masses engage in reading online instead of perusing through original copies in a library setting. It is for this reason that organizations came up with the idea of digitalizing books to allow more people to access them online (Barnes, 2004). This has come with good and bad returns on the seemingly noble idea. At the top is the fact that more and more people will be able to still access these books at the touch of a button on their tablets and mobile devices. This is a plus since these books will still retain their relevance. The cost of storing books has also gone up to enormous proportions and libraries keep struggling to raise the money that is needed to keep the books in good conditions throughout the years. Wear and tear has been a considerable factor to take into account and the libraries also have to ensure they have enough staff to take care of the books and keep arranging them on the shelves in the right order. Some books have very important histories and as such they have been stored in closed areas away from the hands of people since they are delicate and the continuous opening of the pages can destroy such history books. People visiting libraries have also had the tendency to rip out pages of books and magazines causing a lot of waste since the next person using a torn book will not get the information they would have needed. This has been costing libraries a lot in terms of replacement of such books.

            Google is a world leader in digital output and as such it was in the forefront in the actualization of the idea to digitalize books found in libraries across the world. People however had other worries concerning this venture and this led to the temporary halting of the process. Google was to use its technological and financial might to digitalise as many books as possible. Some concerns that were raised in this process was that some books would have been sidelined. Since this was a process that could have taken quite a considerable amount of time to actualize, what would have been the criterion employed in choosing the order of the books to be digitalized. The first books to go through the process would have an unfair advantage since more people would buy and access them online long before the others. Writers, printing and publishing houses would also have to forego a lot of revenue since they solely depend on the sales of these book copies for their profits. This would eventually have cost so many people to lose their jobs thus adding to the already difficult living conditions of people. Google as an online company makes money through the placement of advertisements on its websites. It is thus notable that it would not be uncommon to find advertisements within the pages of books as one browses through the books. This would remove all the necessary importance from the book and make the digital books another tool for the company to make money. The placement of such advertisements is also in bad taste. Books also have an emotional attachment to a person reading the book, you can feel the texture of the pages, the smell of the paper, thus they are not only vessels of passing information but they also carry a rich history in their pages.

            It is therefore very important that all the stakeholders in this sector come together and address the issue of the pros and cones that is associated with the whole process of digitalization. Why would all these power of turning books into digital forms be left to one company, Google? Since the future is in digitalization we should also allow these books to be digitalized so that all the people can be given a fair chance to access them. It is better to let all the people have access to these books than to deny everyone a chance since the future of the world depends entirely on the populace being educated and is driven by technology. 

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