principal benefit of the Universal Library will be to supplement the
formal education system by making knowledge available to anyone who
can read and has access. Libraries have played a vital role in the
advancement of human society. Societal advance depends on young
people having access to books via libraries and other means. We
expect that making this unique web resource available free to
everyone around the world will enhance the learning process.
are unevenly distributed around the world and within each country.
In the U.S., the NCES Survey noted that in 1996, 3,408 of 3,792
institutions of higher education had libraries holding 806.7 million
volumes. The 112 largest university libraries in the United States
and Canada each have at least 1.8 million books. They are members of
the Association for Research Libraries. Massachusetts has about 25
million volumes; New York has about 31 million volumes, and
California has about 40 million volumes in their ARL Libraries
(Association for Research Libraries, 1999/2000). Other states, such
as North and South Dakota , have no large libraries. A few large
public libraries have several million volumes. However, most junior
colleges, high schools, and public libraries have much smaller
collections. Making this large knowledge repository can
revolutionize research at all levels of education and give a
much-needed boost at minimal cost to our national educational
infrastructure. This impact will be further enhanced given the
convenience of online access, and the benefit of full text searching
at word and phrase levels.
secondary benefit of online search is to make locating the relevant
information inside of books far more reliable and much easier.
Student success in finding exactly what they seek will increase and
increased success will enhance student willingness to perform
research using this large resource. NCES reports that 84 percent of
libraries around the country are open between 60 and 80 hours a
week. This digital library would be open all the 168 hours the
week on a 24x7x365 basis. More than one individual will be able to
use the same book at the same time. Thus, popular works will not be
checked out and thus unavailable to others.
million-book project will produce an extensive and rich testbed for
use in further textual language processing research. It is hoped
that at least 10,000 books among the million will be available in
more than one language, providing a unique resource for example
based machine translation.
believe that information is now doubling every two years. Machine
summarization, intelligent indexing, and information mining are
tools that will be needed for individuals to keep up in their
discipline work, in their businesses, and in their personal
interests. This large digitization project will enable extensive
research in these areas.