Building and Preserving a National Literary Heritage: Books As an Expression of Cultural Diversity
Globally and nationally, books represent a central kind of cultural heritage. The UNESCO Institute for Statistics has been exploring library statistics for worldwide book consumption, and helped to found the European Expert Meeting on Book and Library Statistics. These bodies, as well as the International Federation of Library Associations, are especially interested in any global patterns in the book world as expressions of cultural diversity and heritage. Such data, however, are not widely collected by any national publishing organizations or library statistics agencies. The increasingly global reach of the WorldCat(TM) database, on the other hand, makes it an obvious source to mine such data. OCLC’s bibliographic database represents more than 127 million items, with 1.3 billion copies held by libraries worldwide.
This paper presents the first results of an OCLC research project, supported by UNESCO and the Book and Digital Media Studies School (Leiden). The project produced a rich data portrait of the global literary arts (as reflected in the WorldCat database), with emphasis on cultural literary heritage by country and region. Researchers were able to compare the overall annual publishing for every country of the world, the libraries that collect and even import a country’s works, the “foreign” monographs their libraries import, and the proportion of publications in various official and native languages. The results provide a global overview of the transnational literary arts, and a wealth of case studies in single countries’ practices in both literary publishing and the preservation of their literary heritage.
Keywords: Book Publishing, Book Trade, Data Mining, National Languages
Dr. Timothy J. Dickey
Post-Doctoral Researcher, Research, OCLC