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Proposal talk:Building a database of all books ever published

From Strategic Planning
Latest comment: 14 years ago by Eclecticology in topic Focus

Why is this strategic and what would the WMF involvement be ? Thanks, 12:50, 2 September 2009 (UTC)


Some proposals will have massive impact on end-users, including non-editors. Some will have minimal impact. What will be the impact of this proposal on our end-users? -- Philippe 00:06, 3 September 2009 (UTC)Reply

Added value?

Maybe it's a bit different, but in this case we will face giant company who have been just doing this for decades. I'm thinking about OCLC, without speaking of the new involvement of Google in creating a database of books and related authors. If we want to look at Web 2.0 services, records could be contained in LibrayThing and Anobii databases. So I'm asking what will be the added value of a project like ours? No offence, just a question --Aubrey 15:02, 3 September 2009 (UTC)Reply

Well, Anobii is not an "authoritative" database as OL is (AFAIK). OL is must continue to be mantained by librarians, not by unexperienced users. Yes, another amateurish project would not be useful. Then, I think that this proposal should discard the possibility to create a new project. It's more useful to improve OL and it collaboration with Wikimedia and other projects, to build a free database. But yes, Google may be a problem (it will never be a free database, however). Nemo 18:55, 3 September 2009 (UTC)Reply
«We try to link to full, digital versions of books whenever we know about them, and we're looking to enhance this so we can link to digital books from more sources than the Internet Archive or Google. If you know of any particularly useful digital repositories we should work with, please let me know» (George Oates). So, I suppose they'll love to add links to Wikisource and other free projects. The problem here is how can we find links automatically: we need metadata (see Proposal:Dublin Core). Nemo 19:24, 4 September 2009 (UTC)Reply
If wikipedia would find a way to convert title listings at author pages to a database, you would have many, many book entries already. Imho, Wikipedia should be more database driven so you can aggregate information entered and form new collections. In this way you could build many listings from information already present on wikipedia, like all recorded music in the world. 11:08, 22 September 2009 (UTC)Reply


A proposal that tries to be everything to everybody can very easily lose focus. While at first glance the aims of this proposal appear fantastic, one must also draw conclusions from the fact that even the world's greatest libraries have not accomplished this. A full survey of all the editions and translations of a single work of any importance is very labour intensive. Desirability alone does not get work done.

Wikisource is not set up to do this because of the tendency of each project to stress material in its own language. An important 19th century novel like Moby Dick has appeared in many editions in English, but is there anywhere a survey of what all these editions are? English Wikisource may not be willing to include a listing of all the translations. Interwiki links to other Wikisources may help some, but only to the extent that a Wikisource exists in that language.

Edward Arber's 1906 The Term Catalogues lists a huge number of publications as listed in the quarterly indexes of the booksellers from the reigns of Charles II through Anne. It would be a superficial task to copy the information from this three volume work, but can we easily know if these works still exist, and where, and whether they could be digitized? How well could we document the estimated 35,000 editions of incunabula that are known to have existed?

For modern works, what can we do to trace the copyright ownership for works by deceased authors? Is it really an infringement of copyright if we list an author's children as a part of this tracing process?

The scope of this proposal is huge, and it is hard to see how it could ever be more than a tiny random selection of material. ... and that's not even touching on magazine articles and ephemera. Eclecticology 19:45, 13 October 2009 (UTC)Reply