Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Universal Digital Library: Million Book Collection

The Universal Digital Library is a book-scanning project backed by several major libraries across the globe, including Beijing University, The Chinese Academy of Science, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Goa University and many others. This week the UDL completed the digitization of 1.5 million books and made them free and publicly available.

The online library offers full text downloads of works that are in the public domain, or for which the copyright holder has been given permission to make available. Unlike Google, the UDL isn't interested in how many users it gets. Though its abundant amount of content and easy-to-download texts may make it attractive to e-book users looking for free compatible content, the library offers a large number of obscure works likely interesting to only a niche group of academics or hobbyists.

The 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 are unevenly distributed around the world and within each country. The UDL allows free and equitable access to research material for people in disadvantaged areas.

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