Tag Archives: Books

Protecting Books From Harm With Controlled Digital Lending

Photo by: Jon Schultz, Director,
University of Houston Law Library

Michelle Wu began working at the University of Houston Law Library in the wake of flooding from Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. Some parts of the city had 14 feet of water and the library took in at least 8 feet. Law books on the lower level were underwater and the lingering humidity produced mold that destroyed much of the remaining collection.

Michelle Wu, Georgetown Law Library

“I wanted to create a model that would allow libraries to be able to preserve collections while respecting copyright in a world where natural disasters are a growing threat,” said Wu, now associate dean for library services and professor of law at the Georgetown Law Library in Washington, D.C. “Digitizing a collection and storing it under existing standards ensures that there is always a backed-up copy somewhere. During and after any disaster, the user would never lose access and the government would not have to reinvest to rebuild collections.” Controlled Digital Lending–the digital equivalent of traditional library lending–is a model that achieves these purposes.

For libraries with fewer resources, CDL can also be a tool to maximize public dollars and improve access. Once a library determines that its community no longer has a need for a certain CDL book (or as many copies as owned), the extra copies can be shared with libraries that never had access and would never have access without collaborative efforts.

“It’s a way of wealth sharing without much cost to communities,” Wu said. “Storage,
digitization, and system costs would have already been budgeted by the lending library, CDL requires no shipping costs to be paid by either party, and the lending library’s community won’t feel the loss of copies as local need has decreased.”

“It’s a way to build a more robust collection for all of us to use. It helps the community and
society at large in the long term,” said Wu. “That’s not something any of us can do alone. The only way we will do it is if we do it together.”

Internet Archive awarded grant from Arcadia Fund to digitize university press collections

Internet Archive has received a $1 million dollar grant from Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin – to digitize titles from university press collections to make them available via controlled digital lending.  The project, Unlocking University Press Books, will bring more than 15,000 titles online from university presses.  This project extends the successful pilot with MIT Press, which has already made more than 400 books available for digital learners around the world.

Today, for many learners, if a book isn’t digital or discoverable through a web search, it’s as if it doesn’t exist. Large-scale digitization projects have brought millions of books online, largely from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but almost a century of knowledge still lives only on the printed page, inaccessible to scholars, journalists and online learners.

To bring important twentieth century scholarship online, the Internet Archive seeks partnerships with university presses to digitize their publications. These materials represent the preeminent scholarly output of research universities, presenting research and analysis of use to policymakers and scholars, and providing materials that help shape and inform a literate culture.

“Every online user should have access to a great digital library,” said Brewster Kahle, Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive, “We are grateful to Arcadia for their support of this project, which will make the unique research published by university presses available to even wider audiences.”

“We are very excited about this transformational program,” said Dean Smith, Director of Cornell University Press. “We take our mission as the nation’s first university press seriously—to make high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship discoverable and accessible to the world. The Internet Archive is perfectly aligned with that mission and will greatly assist us in taking bold actions to unearth these titles and provide access options.”

To participate in the project, please complete our signup form.  Please contact Chris Freeland, Director of Open Libraries, at chrisfreeland@archive.org with additional questions.

Celebrating 100 million tasks (uploading and modifying archive.org content)

Just over 8-1/2 years ago, I wrote a multi-process daemon in PHP that we refer to as “catalogd”.  It runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no rest!

It is in charge of uploading all content to our archive.org servers, and all changes to uploaded files.

We recently passed the 100 millionth “task” (upload or edit to an archive “item”).

After starting with a modest 100 or so tasks/day, we currently run nearly 100,000 tasks/day.  We’ve done some minor scaling, but of the most part, the little daemon has become our little daemon that could!

Here’s to the next 100 million tasks at archive.org!

-tracey

Open Library Buying e-Books from Publishers

The Internet Archive is on campaign to buy e-Books from publishers and authors; making more digital books available to readers who prefer using laptops, reading devices or library computers.  Publishers such as Smashwords, Cursor and A Book Apart have already contributed e-Books to OpenLibrary.org – offering niche titles and the works of best-selling “indy” authors including Amanda Hocking and J.A. Konrath.

“Libraries are our allies in creating the best range of discovery mechanisms for writers and readers—enabling open and browser-based lending through the OpenLibrary.org means more books for more readers, and we’re thrilled to do our part in achieving that.” – Richard Nash, founder of Cursor.

American libraries spend $3-4 billion a year on publisher’s materials.  OpenLibrary.org and its more than 150 partnering libraries around the US and the world are  leading the charge to increase their combined digital book catalog of 80,000+ (mostly 20th century) and 2 million+ older titles.

“As demand for e-Books increases, libraries are looking to purchase more titles to provide better access for their readers.” – Digital Librarian Brewster Kahle, Founder of the Internet Archive.

This new twist on the traditional lending model promises to increase e-book use and revenue for publishers. OpenLibrary.org offers an e-Book lending library and digitized copies of classics and older books as well as books in audio and DAISY formats for those qualified readers.

All Icelandic literature to go online?

Þorsteinn Hallgrímsson, formerly of the National Library of Iceland, had a big idea:  digitize all Icelandic literature all the way to the current day and make it available to everyone interested in reading it. The Internet Archive was eager to be a part of this bold vision. I am in Iceland now, and because the financial crisis and Icelandic reaction to the US Department of Justice’s subpoenaing the tweets and Facebook account of a sitting member of the Icelandic Parliament, this project may have the momentum it needs to happen.

Ingibjörg Steinunn Sverrisdóttir, the National Librarian, and Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the Minister of Culture, met to discuss this possibility this week. I have met with several other ministers and parliamentarians in the last few days to discuss how this could be done.

The total literature of Iceland is under 50,000 books, which is easily scannable in 2 years by 12 people using the scribe scanners of the Internet Archive. David Lesperance, a lawyer from Canada who has helped support the Room to Read project, has offered to fundraise for this project; the Internet Archive has offered scanning technology, training, and backend software; and the Library has offered to administer the project. A digital lending system could be a way that they decide to limit access to a book to one person at a time in order to balance the interests of the writers and publishers while still having some access to everything from anywhere forever for free. Egill Helgason, of the Icelandic TV network, interviewed Brewster about this (photo below, video on the Archive).

If they decide to go ahead, Iceland could be the first country to have its complete literature go online. Fingers crossed.

The next step beyond this that is interesting to many here is to have Iceland become a “Switzerland of Bits,” where the laws will help protect the historical record from foreign or corporate danger. This is being promoted by Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a member of parliament. The Internet Archive works with many libraries around the world, and everyone wants to make sure that the digital copies are safe for the long term. Iceland is taking steps to be a good place for this.

As an aside, with all their inexpensive “green” electricity from their hydro electric and geothermal plants, I found it interesting that they are growing some vegetables under lights in the long winters as a way to become more self sufficient. With LED lights that can be tuned to produce specific wavelengths at different parts of the growth cycle, this approach could be a fairly energy efficient way to grow food for their people.

-Brewster Kahle

Go Books in Browsers from Google!

We are excited to see commercial books from many publishers being made available through web browser technology from Google eBookstore. As a standards based system, reading in a browser offers an opportunity for many more people to actively participate in the evolving digital book ecology.

The advantage of “books in browsers” over dedicated devices and even app store-based selling is that books can come from any website, read on many more devices, and be findable with standard search technologies.

The Google eBook Reader

Buying books that are delivered in a browser is now being demonstrated on a massive scale by Google. This is great news as it shows that the security measures offered are good enough for commercial players.

Lending books through a browser that recreates the traditional library-check-out system was demonstrated at the Books in Browsers 2010 summit at the Internet Archive. Lending and vending of books using browsers can pave the way for many winners:

Authors can find wider distribution for their work.
Publishers both big and small can now distribute books directly to readers.
Book sellers can find new and larger audiences for their products.
Device makers can offer access to millions of books instantly.
Libraries can continue to loan books in the way that patrons expect.
Readers could start to get universal access to all knowledge.

I am especially excited to see the possibilities in platform independent social reading and beautifully designed ebooks that could come from browser based books.

-brewster