The British Library is looking to move more and more into cyberspace with a big commitment to collect and store as much digital content as it can.
"By the year 2020 we estimate that only 25% of all titles worldwide will be published in print form alone and the rest, 75%, will only be published digitally, or in both digital and print form,” said chief exec, Dame Lynne Brindley.
"If the UK is going to safeguard its intellectual heritage and ensure it can be used by future generations of researchers, it is essential that we make a step change in the amount of digital content that we collect, store and make accessible for the long term,” she added.
That warning follows the news last November
that the Library had added the 500,000th item to its long-term Digital Library System. A digitised copy of a newspaper originally published in 1864.
Half a million items may seem small beer soon if its latest vision document
comes to fruit, as the UK's national book repository vows to “significantly increase” both its digitisation activities and its visibility on the Web.
This will be achieved through a range of partnerships with private and public providers over the ten years until 2020. Along the way, it says, it expects technology to remain in a state of change and flux, but the reality is the new generation of 'digital natives' will expect – and get - access to a huge range of online content in all formats via its systems.
Brindley's team also plans to digitise a big part of content that is now out of copyright to make it widely accessible - independent of location, and in ways and on devices that users choose.
The Library’s rare and unique collections, classed as national treasures, will also be digitised and made more widely available on digital platforms. The BL will also actively seek partnerships for licensing digital content outside its reading rooms, with multimedia access for users.
The organisation already holds 14 million books, 920,000 journal and newspaper titles, 58 million patents and 3 million sound recordings, receives a copy of every publication produced in the UK (and Ireland), and has a total collection of well over 150 million items.