25 Million Google Books, but Good Luck Trying to Read Any

25 Million Google Books, but Good Luck Trying to Read Any
AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File

Google's effort to digitize every book in the world began in 2002 and ultimately scanned more than 25 million books. But nobody is allowed to read them, thanks to a morass of copyright concerns. Here's how a modern-day library of Alexandria came into existence for the enlightenment of virtually no one.

From The Atlantic:

It was to be the realization of a long-held dream. “The universal library has been talked about for millennia,” Richard Ovenden, the head of Oxford's Bodleian Libraries, has said. “It was possible to think in the Renaissance that you might be able to amass the whole of published knowledge in a single room or a single institution.” In the spring of 2011, it seemed we'd amassed it in a terminal small enough to fit on a desk.

“This is a watershed event and can serve as a catalyst for the reinvention of education, research, and intellectual life,” one eager observer wrote at the time. ...

When the library at Alexandria burned it was said to be an “international catastrophe.” When the most significant humanities project of our time was dismantled in court, the scholars, archivists, and librarians who'd had a hand in its undoing breathed a sigh of relief ...

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