In what is being seen as a boon to students and journalists and readers all over the world, now Wikipedia has this added feature of having digital books linked to the citations mentioned below its article.
Wikipedia has been inarguably the biggest treasure trove of information on a myriad of topics. That it is backed by a sufficient number of citations that give credit to its statements is the number one reason why everyone rushes to Wikipedia to get the hang of articles, despite many of its imperfections.
Earlier, an entry in Wikipedia, when backed by a massive list of references, that too of books say, needed the added endeavor to find and track down those books. They could either be available online (the easy way) or you had to hunt down narrow lanes to get a physical copy for verifying the citations.
Needless to say, those efforts were unavoidable in order to jump on to the next steps of collecting information on a given topic. But thanks to Internet Archive’s impressive efforts, Wikipedia is getting a 2-page digitized preview of the book citations that support an article’s statements. Scanned images of the books are linked to the citations.
Internet Archive has always been one of the biggest collections, rightly called the Universal library. It offers digitized versions of millions of public-domain books, images, movies, sites, software, videos, and apps; under its non-profit digital library mission.
So far, the Internet Archive has linked over 50,000 books to a wholesome worth of 1,30,000 citations of books. Though it is a small pool comparatively, nonetheless, this is a noble initiative. Given that now a scan shall be available, readers and researchers would not have to rush to get physical copies of the cited books.
Users will be able to view and borrow every book cited on Wikipedia article citations. The initiative is a part of Internet Archive’s aim to digitize every book ever published and provide universal access to the same.
Mark Graham, director of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine service, stated, “Our goal is to be a library that’s useful and reachable by more people.” According to Graham, the platform scans around 10,000 books per day, which is nothing short of huge, although there are more than one challenge.
Books that have a conventional citation format are easy to digitize. Moreover, links to books that accompany a page number are easier. Also, books that have an ISBN Number are very easy to find and add links. But the problem is, many Wikipedia citations are not properly formatted. You do not have a reach to ISBN numbers in many cases.
The non-profit library aims to cover 4 million books for the general masses in its huge collection of digitized books under various formats, be it text, epub, or pdf, which currently stands at a whopping 3.8 million.
Internet Archive is also working towards replacing broken citations in Wikipedia and linking it to pages that Internet Archive has already archived in its Wayback machine.
In a process that is governed almost entirely by bots, the Archive bots have already replaced around 6 million broken citations. The editing tools have worked and edited around 14 million links. Among those 14 million, 11 million links refer to the Internet Archive itself.
All that being said, it sounds a lot of hard work that requires permissions and support from the whole web community. From teenagers and college going students to reporters and researchers, for one thing, this new initiative of Internet Archive is certainly a boon to one and all.