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 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.
Libraries 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.
A 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.
This 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.
Many 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.