The Internet Archive operates 13 scanning centers in great libraries, digitizing 1000 books a day. This scanning is financially supported by libraries, foundations, and the Microsoft Corporation. Today, Microsoft has announced that it will ramp down their investment in this area. We very much appreciate their efforts and funding in book scanning over the last 3 years. As a result, over 300,000 books are publicly available on the archive.org site that would not otherwise be.
To their credit, they said they are taking off any contractual restrictions on the public domain books and letting us keep the equipment that they funded. This is extremely important because it can allow those of us in the public sphere to leverage what they helped build. Keeping the public domain materials public domain is where we all wanted to be. Getting a books scanning process in place is also a major accomplishment. Thank you Microsoft.
Funding for the time being is secure, but going forward we will need to replace the Microsoft funding. Microsoft has always encourage the Open Content Alliance to work in parallel in case this day arrived. Lets work together, quickly, to build on the existing momentum. All ideas welcome.
Onward to a completely public library system!