Richard Boulderstone, Director of eStrategy and Programs at the British Library, kicked off the IMPACT Conference this morning with a suitably impactful statement of scope: the British Library, he estimates, has nearly 5 billion physical pages in a 150 million object collection.
Add this statistic to the Conference of European National Libraries 2006 Survey which estimates the national libraries of Europe are holding over 13 billion pages to be digitised and growing and one gets a sense of the magnitude of digitisation potential. The British Library has digitised about 1% of its collections thus far, and with a clear mission to advance the world’s knowledge, and a vision to be a leading hub in the global information network, the core of the strategy is necessarily digital. Boulderstone views the IMPACT project as a key to helping us add greater value to these growing digitised collections and provide users with a deeper cultural understanding of the nation’s holdings.
What makes IMPACT a uniquely “fantastic” project he emphasises, is how it addresses a common set of issues across Europe, and seeks to resolve them through wide collaboration and the piloting of systems which will benefit libraries and the citizens of Europe for many years to come. OCR works very well for modern collections and users enjoy and expect high accuracy rates but there is some way to go for older material. Improving access to this text is an imperative and the strong collaborative basis of the IMPACT project is exactly the sort of engagement the British Library feels will guarantee this. The project has already made significant progress, as we’ll see throughout this two day workshop.
View the presentation here: