Finding Indological full-book PDFs on Google Books
Paul G. Hackett
ph2046 at COLUMBIA.EDU
Mon Jun 18 12:34:23 UTC 2007
At 2:17 PM +1000 6/18/07, Antonio Ferreira-Jardim wrote:
>A much better scanned version of Burnouf's "Histoire" is available
>from the DLI here: http://tinyurl.com/2q88jj
There are are actually several "hosts" for the DLI ("Digital Library
which, to no surprise, are *not* actually mirrored hosts, but rather
contain different books, meta-data, interfaces, etc. which
*sometimes* overlap in content. Also, some appear to be up at all
times; some appear to go offline from time to time. Moreover, I would
point out that the quality of scans varies there as well
(inconsistent page sizes, cropped pages, missing or corrupted page
images, etc.), and with only individual page image TIFFs (presumably
for bandwidth reasons), offers another usability challenge.
Nonetheless, having spent countless hours scanning books myself,
whether individual TIFF images from the DLI or PDFs from Google, I
would much rather scan one or two pages to fix an otherwise complete
book, than to have to scan the entire book myself.
I say this because while I think it is easy to find fault with any
initiative of this scope, and as a librarian I completely agree with
the sentiments expressed thus far about quality control issues and
all that, I would, however, *still* defend Google in their
enterprise, because I think it's still better than *not* having it,
and Google Books, for all it's flaws *is* e-text searchable, and I
have already found numerous references to materials that I would have
never even known existed, much less been able to locate or access.
To give a small example: I have been working for sometime now on
issues related to early twentieth century Sikkim/India/Tibet border
communities. By simply performing a keyword search for "Darjeeling"
(or "Darjiling" or "Kalimpong" or "Lachen" or "Yatung", etc.) I have
located countless memoirs and travelogs of individuals who visited
these areas in the late nineteenth & early twentieth century and
whose accounts of places and individuals I would have never found
through conventional means. This fact alone makes Google Books and
invaluable resource for me.
Similarly, if you explore the DLI, you will find an unbelievably
large quantity of scanned Sanskrit books. A few years ago I began
working with some of the engineers at ABBYY and have been training
Abbyy FineReader to do OCR for Devanagari. For me, despite their
flaws, the DLI page images have been yet another very convenient
resource for training the recognition engine, above and beyond just
having the content available. The fact that Oliver Hellwig has
created a Devanagari OCR program (which I look forward to testing)
offers yet another reason to celebrate an abundance of such data
given the potential for rendering all of those materials e-text
searchable as well.
Perhaps I'm belaboring the obvious, but I would just like to plead
for some "perspective" here, even if Google or DLI or anyone else
doesn't actually hit the mark of perfection in their efforts.
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