The Internet Archive is now archiving physical books as well

Why Preserve Books?

Two of the corporations involved in major book scanning have sawed off the bindings of modern books to speed the digitizing process. Many have a negative visceral reaction to the "butchering" of books, but is this a reasonable reaction?

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. A seed bank such as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is seen as an authoritative and safe version of crops we are growing. 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.

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11 Responses:

  1. kellyu says:

    The Law Library Microform Consortium do a similar thing with their resources. They keep them in an old salt mine in Kansas.

    Best thing about the LLMC is that they don't charge like wounded bulls, unlike the usual legal publishers, so they archive and provide access.

  2. antifuchs says:

    A few friends of mine who are building a book scanner got a tour of the Internet Archive's book scanning facility a few weeks ago. It looks very very impressive. Some pictures are here:

  3. E. says:

    Harvard's Widener Library was requiring that scanned books be destroyed, in the '90s.

  4. Phaid says:

    Jonathan E: "There must be a mistake. These books are classified."
    Librarian: "They have been transcribed and summarised."
    Jonathan E: "Who summarises them?"
    Librarian: "I suppose the computers do."

  5. sclatter says:

    Shades of "Rainbows End".

    I have fantasies about being able to rip my paper books. Imagine how much easier moving would be!

  6. ryanlrussell says:

    I went to the launch open house thing on Sunday, since it's only about 30 blocks down the hill from my house.

    It's a very cool facility, I want one. According to their physical book storage specialist, books are like sponges. To the point that they drop 1/3 of their weight after running the dehumidifiers for a while. He says the converted storage containers weight 60,000lbs when first filled with books, and 40,000lbs later when the moisture has been sucked out.

  7. Until I can walk into a retail location or my own living room and buy or perform my own service that produces a book that works the exact same way as a international publisher's books, digital books fail. They fail on so many levels. My Kindle is basically a passive entertainment device, despite my deep desire for it to also be a reference guide for knowledge.

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