This week I found myself searching for inspiration to write this blog post. Despite reading over my colleagues’ posts and reviewing the class readings again, I still struggled to find a particular subject that caught my interest. The main reason for this probably stems from the issue I take with the category for the week: Wikisource vs. the Library. In my opinion, presenting these two institutions as opposing factions does not seem to be the most productive or accurate means of evaluating them.
Wikisource and libraries share many common traits, including a goal of spreading knowledge by archiving texts in an accessible manner; Wikisource even labels itself as “the free library that anyone can improve”! This is something Steven points to in his post that really got me thinking about how libraries are increasingly entering the digital domain. Librarians today are trained in archiving material as well as digital texts – the focus is no longer solely invested in the book as a tangible object but as a work that can also exist digitally. The ability to employ technology in a library for the use of archiving and making texts more accessible, in a digital format, has become a major aspect of librarians’ educational training and skill development. While Wikisource is adopting scholarly forms of archiving, librarians are learning to rely on the digital humanities. This weakens the division between the library and online attempts at archiving, like Wikisource, since the same techniques and standards of organization are being upheld in both.
Levels of organizational structure and systematical standards are being applied in the digital realm where they was previously only expected in the physical building of a library. This means there is greater access to texts since people can potentially read a book, or rather a digital scan/OCR of a book, from the comfort of their own home. However, I must acknowledge that the Wikisource version of a “library” cannot achieve the same level of scholarly validity (as an institution) as an “actual” library because of its foundation in a social medium. Just look back to our posts from last week to refresh your mind on how controversial a “scholarly” social edition is.