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To Digitize in Mass?

May 27, 2008

One of the great “to be or not to be” questions of the digital age, from the Ball State University Libraries’ blog:

The proponents of mass digitization projects argue that it is better to have the digital object on the Web where it is accessible globally today than to wait for one or more months to have it searchable through more robust metadata. That is the same argument that many archivists have used for mass processing. As the call goes out for more digital resources, the mass digitization approach gains appeal to some.

Indeed.

This new push to make library materials available digitally recalls the early 20th century efforts of the Smithsonian Institute–the folklife people specifically who were using relatively new advances in audio and visual recording to create a new class of primary materials. The new technology and the manner in which it allowed us to approach our objects of study combined to expand and refine our cataloging apparatus–in theory and in practice. Questions like this may never get definitively resolved until it ceases to be a viable question.

This entry was posted by: Jim
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