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07 Jun 2011

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Came across this interesting blog post via Internet Archive. I have long been a fan of Internet Archive because I think, in their own way, they're saving the world. At least, the world I love - the world of books. Ever since I can remember, these guys have been sharing digital books for everyone - yes, books for the public domain. What could be better?

The answer: collecting "one [physical] copy of every book ever published" for long-term warehousing in shipping containers. Now that is awesome.

To quote:

"Books are being thrown away, or sometimes packed away, as digitized versions become more available. This is an important time to plan carefully for there is much at stake.

"Digital technologies are changing both how library materials are accessed and increasingly how library materials are preserved. After the Internet Archive digitizes a book from a library in order to provide free public access to people world-wide, these books go back on the shelves of the library. We noticed an increasing number of books from these libraries moving books to “off site repositories” make space in central buildings for more meeting spaces and work spaces. These repositories have filled quickly and sometimes prompt the de-accessioning of books...While we understand the need to manage physical holdings, we believe this should be done thoughtfully and well.

"A reason to preserve the physical book that has been digitized is that it is the authentic and original version that can be used as a reference in the future. If there is ever a controversy about the digital version, the original can be examined...Saving physical copies of digitized books might at least be seen in a similar light as an authoritative and safe copy that may be called upon in the future.

"...Therefore we have determined that we will keep a copy of the books we digitize if they are not returned to another library. Since we are interested in scanning one copy of every book ever published, we are starting to collect as many books as we can."