For more than eighty years, MIT Press has been publishing acclaimed titles in science, technology, art and architecture. Now, thanks to a new partnership between the Internet Archive and MIT Press, readers will be able to borrow these classics online for the first time. With generous support from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing, this partnership represents an important advance in providing free, long-term public access to knowledge.
“These books represent some of the finest scholarship ever produced, but right now they are very hard to find,” said Brewster Kahle, founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive. “Together with MIT Press, we will enable the patrons of every library that owns one of these books to borrow it online–one copy at a time.”
This joint initiative is a crucial early step in Internet Archive’s ambitious plans to digitize, preserve and provide public access to four million books, by partnering widely with university presses and other publishers, authors, and libraries. The Internet Archive is one of eight groups named semi-finalists in 100&Change, a global competition for a single $100 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The competition seeks bold solutions to critical problems of our time.
MIT Press Director, Amy Brand said, “One of my top ambitions for the MIT Press has been to ensure that our entire legacy of publications is digitized, accessible, searchable, discoverable now and in perpetuity. Partnering with Internet Archive to achieve this objective is a dream come true not only for me and my colleagues at the Press, but also for many of our authors whose earlier works are completely unavailable or not easily accessible.”
“Lending online permits libraries to fulfill their mission in the digital age, allowing anyone to borrow through the ether copies of works they own,” said Professor Peter Baldwin, co-founder of Arcadia. “The IA-MIT collaboration is a big step in the direction of realizing a universal library, accessible to anyone, anywhere.”
We will be scanning an initial group of 1,500 MIT Press titles at Internet Archive’s Boston Public Library facility, including Cyril Stanley Smith’s 1980 book, From Art to Science: Seventy-Two Objects Illustrating the Nature of Discovery, and Frederick Law Olmsted and Theodora Kimball’s Forty Years of Landscape Architecture: Central Park, which was published in 1973. The oldest title in the group is Arthur C. Hardy’s 1936 Handbook of Colorimetry.
John Palfrey, Head of School at Phillips Academy Andover and well-known public access advocate, described the partnership as “a truly ground-breaking development in open scholarship that I hope will inspire other university presses to follow suit, since so many excellent and important books are effectively out of circulation by virtue of being analog-only in a digital world.”
The Internet Archive has already begun digitizing MIT Press’ backlist and they will be available at archive.org soon. The set of 1500 deep backlist works should be available by the end of 2017.