LJ: Do you think librarians are prepared to face [the challenges of large-scale corporate digitization projects]?
Kahle: If we stick to our original principles of preservation and access, I think we’re in good shape….I think it can be the librarians’ day if we more boldly step into the world of digital resources. In large part, the librarian community hasn’t done this yet. In some ways, yes, by putting Internet terminals in or negotiating contracts with Elsevier for commercial services. But let’s do something more interesting. Let’s build services in the digital world analogous to the services we perform in the analog world.
LJ: How do librarians who want to go digital and open with their collections and services get started?
Kahle: It starts with a passion, it starts with a focus. Take a content set or a user need that you see and start producing services on your own. If you’re in a public library, it might be town history. If you’re a university librarian, it might be a subject specialty. Get those materials online in a way that you have control of them….We have to recognize that it’s not only possible but it is our responsibility to bring digital services to the world. If we can build this next generation in the open, the same way the open network and the open software infrastructure of the Internet developed, it will be the librarians’ day. Media companies, the Googles and Microsofts, they will play their roles. They’ll bring things to hundreds of millions. But they will never bring things to our patrons the way we can as librarians.