Need to know what an Igloo really looks like? How about a Siberian hut? Or the inside of a 15th Century jail? For 50 years in Hollywood, generations of filmmakers would beat a path to the Michelson Cinema Research Library, where renowned film researcher Lillian Michelson could hunt down the answer to just about any question. She was the human card catalogue to a library of more than one million books, photos, periodicals and clippings. But ever since Lillian retired a decade ago, the Michelson Cinema Research Library has been languishing in cold storage, looking for a home. Today it has found one. Lillian Michelson, 92, announced that she is donating her library and life’s work to the Internet Archive. For its part, the nonprofit digital library vows to preserve her collection for the long-term and digitize as much of it as possible, making it accessible to the world.
“I feel as if a fantasy I never, never entertained has been handed to me by the universe, by fate,” mused the legendary film researcher.“The Internet Archive saved my library in the best way possible. I hope millions of people will use it [to research] space, architecture, costumes, towns, cities, administration, foreign countries… the crime business! Westerns! That’s what is amazing to me, that it will be open to everybody.”
Internet Archive founder, Brewster Kahle, explained why his organization was willing to accept the entire Michelson collection and keep it intact: “A library is more than a collection of books. It is the center of a community. For decades, the Michelson Cinema Research Library informed Hollywood—and we want to see that continue. Many organizations wanted pieces of the collection, but I think the importance of keeping it together is so it can continue to help inspire global filmmakers to make accurate and compelling movies.”
With $20,000 borrowed against her husband Harold’s life insurance policy, Lillian Michelson purchased the reference library in 1969. Over the next half-century, the Michelson Cinema Research Library had many homes. From the Samuel Goldwyn Studios it moved to the American Film Institute, then to Paramount Studios, and finally to Zoetrope Studios at the invitation of director, Francis Ford Coppola. Michelson later received an offer via Jeffrey Katzenberg to move the Michelson Cinema Research Library to the newly opened DreamWorks Pictures, where it remained until Lillian’s retirement due to health reasons 19 years later.
The Michelson Cinema Research Library includes some 5,000+ books dating back to the early 1800s; periodicals, 30,000+ photographs, and 3,000+ clipping files. In storage they filled some 1600 boxes on 45 pallets—enough to fill more than two 18-wheel tractor trailers. Its contents have now been moved for long-term preservation to the Internet Archive’s physical archive in Richmond, California.
For six decades, Michelson’s research informed scores of Hollywood films, including The Right Stuff, Rosemary’s Baby, Scarface, Fiddler on the Roof, Full Metal Jacket, The Graduate and The Birds.
Bringing this historic Hollywood design resource back to life—a largely digital life—can make it a global design resource for art directors, designers, filmmakers and researchers in search of information and visual inspiration.
“Lillian Michelson opened my eyes to the importance of a research library to all aspects of motion picture production. At a time when the rich and deep research libraries created and maintained by the motion picture studios were being ‘given away’ or otherwise destroyed, Lillian was a beacon of light guiding us to consider them as treasure.”
—Academy Award-winning director, Francis Ford Coppola
The story of her long and creative union with renowned storyboard artist Harold Michelson was told in Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story, a 2015 documentary produced and directed by Daniel Raim and currently streaming on Netflix. (To honor this devoted Hollywood couple, the DreamWorks Pictures named the king and queen in Shrek 2 Harold and Lillian.)
Lillian Michelson will preside over a virtual ribbon cutting, panel discussion, and a screening of the documentary on Wednesday, January 27 from 4-6:30 PM Pacific time. There, she will unveil the first phase of her new digital library, available to the world via the Internet Archive’s digital platform, at https://archive.org/details/michelson. Sign up for the screening event here.
“I feel that, sadly, the College is closing, but the library is not. It is re-emerging in a different form.” —Mary Kickham-Samy, Director of Geschke Library, Marygrove College
In June of this year, Marygrove College announced that the graduate college, located in Detroit, would close on December 17.
Founded in 1905 by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary congregation (SSIHM, or IHM for short), the college has operated out of its Detroit campus for 92 years. Facing financial difficulties in 2017, the college closed its undergraduate programs, but continued to offer its graduate programs in education, human resource management, and social justice. Unfortunately the college was unable to attract the additional students required to keep programs in operation, and the decision to close was made this spring.
Beyond the challenges of what would happen with the grounds and buildings (which will continue to be used for educational purposes), a key question for administrators was “What will happen to the library?” With more than 70,000 books and nearly 3,000 journal volumes, the Geschke Library is a well-curated, world class collection with strengths in the humanities, education, and social justice. The collection reflects the strong historical and cultural influences of the city of Detroit, bringing a uniquely African-American perspective into the light. After a thorough review of possible options, Marygrove College President Dr. Elizabeth Burns and college administrators decided that the entirety of the library’s collection would be donated to the Internet Archive so that the materials could be digitized and made available to students and researchers all over the world.
I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Burns and Mary Kickham-Samy, Director of Geschke Library, by email about the work they are doing to ensure that the legacy of Marygrove College will live on. What follows is a poignant reflection on the library’s closure with an optimistic view towards its digital future, and what it means for the local Marygrove College community and scholars across the globe.
Chris Freeland: Dr. Burns, how did Marygrove College determine that Internet Archive was the best home for the collection?
Elizabeth Burns: The College explored several options for the disposition of the collection. We wanted to preserve as many books as possible and also be true to the IHM ideal of sustainability and care for the Earth (IHM is our sponsoring order of Catholic nuns, based in Monroe, MI). We didn’t want the majority of the volumes to end up in a landfill. The concept of both preserving the collection and having it available to all was endorsed by the Board. While some are grieving the removal of the book and materials, most welcome the idea of online availability. In this way, the collection that was carefully built over the years by Sisters Claudia and Anna Mary, along with other library directors, will live on. We are pleased to have this as a legacy.
What does it mean for students anywhere in the world that the library will continue to be available online?
Burns: Marygrove College has always been committed to education and outreach. Our sponsoring congregation, the IHMs, have started schools all over the world. Our graduates have also taught in many parts of the world. To have the collection available to students means that the Marygrove mission will continue. We hope that our collection, especially the Detroit collection and the Social Justice collection will be of use to scholars and to students of all ages.
How about from your perspective as a librarian, Mary? What does it mean for researchers that the library will still be available?
Mary Kickham-Sandy: Students everywhere will not only gain free access to a wealth of information and resources, but they may also gain a greater awareness of the legacy of Marygrove College, as well as the culture and history of Detroit. Also, many local libraries in Michigan do not have the scope of books about Michigan that Marygrove has. So, by digitizing the Marygrove Library collection, Michigan students will have greater access to resources about their state.
Mary, as a fellow librarian myself, it’s difficult to consider closure. What’s it like to close a library?
Kickham-Samy: When I began my career as a librarian in 1998, I did not imagine that one day I would be responsible for closing a library, especially one as mature, robust, and cherished as the Geschke Library of Marygrove College. I feel that, sadly, the College is closing, but the library is not. It is re-emerging in a different form.
What considerations were you making about the collection?
Kickham-Samy: I had two main concerns: the legacy of Marygrove College and the cultural importance of the Library to the neighborhood and the larger community of Detroit. A couple [of] community members expressed discomfort with the idea that the Library would be removed from the neighborhood and from the city. I consulted with librarians at Wayne State University (WSU) about the possibility of housing the Detroit and Michigan books in the WSU library system. However, after some discussions, we reached a consensus that the collection would be more accessible in a digitized format.
Dr. Burns, I’m sure that Marygrove College’s closing was extremely difficult news for your alumni. What does it mean to alums that the library will continue to be available online?
Burns: When this possibility was announced at the all-class reunion in September, they were overjoyed. They feared that the collection would be lost forever. The fact that it will continue to be available as a living legacy is important to them.
Finally, to both of you, what is your hope for the collection?
Burns: My hope is that it will be useful for scholars and for students across the globe. I also hope that some will be curious about the College and the IHMs and will read the College’s history and understand the work done in Detroit for over 90 years. The work of education goes on and I’m grateful to the Internet Archive for allowing us to participate in this important endeavor.
Kickham-Samy: My hope is that the Internet Archive will elegantly display the depth, breadth, and beauty of the Marygrove College Library collection. I hope that those who view our collection will not only find the information they seek, but will also witness and appreciate the College mission to promote social justice through activism, a theme that runs through the development of the collection from its early days until its final one.
Last month a crew organized by the Internet Archive packed and moved the contents of the library into 5 shipping containers and sent them to our Physical Archive facilities in Richmond, California. Yesterday the first container of books was sent to be digitized in our scanning facility, with the resulting digital books appearing online in 2020. While we mourn the closure of Marygrove College, we are grateful to play a role in preserving the legacy of Marygrove College and the Geschke Library for generations to come
The following blog post was written by freelance writer Caralee Adams about the Internet Archive’s Library Leaders Forum, held on October 23 at San Francisco Public Library.
As enthusiasm grows for making library collections more accessible, the Internet Archive hosted an event to build a community of practice around Controlled Digital Lending (CDL). A diverse group gathered for the 2019 Library Leaders Forum Oct. 23 to share stories and strategies for libraries to expand their reach by lending out digital books based on their physical collections.
Why is this important?
“At the Internet Archive, we have a strong belief that everyone deserves to learn. We want to offer up the greatest digital library the Internet has ever seen to the world for free,” said Chris Freeland, Director of the Internet Archives’ Open Libraries program. “We think that everyone, regardless of where they live, should have ready access to a great library. More importantly, we think it should be available on phones and mobile devices that people turn to today. We want to make sure they have access to vetted, trusted information that’s held in libraries.”
The mantra of CDL: “Own one, loan one.” The idea is that a library can make a choice of lending either a physical copy or a digital version of a book.
The Internet Archive has been doing CDL since 2011, beginning with the Boston Public Library. Now two dozen other libraries of all sizes in the U.S. and Canada have embraced the model. Librarians from some of those institutions spoke about their passion for the practice at the forum.
The meeting provided an overview of the legal issues, policy considerations, and examples of CDL in action. The appeal to library leaders gathered was to endorse CDL, join Open Libraries, donate books to the Internet Archive for scanning, and volunteer to help with a new serials project.
Helping libraries see what’s possible
Michael Lambert, City Librarian at the San Francisco Public Library, which hosted the event, shared his institution’s experience as an early partner with the Internet Archive on Open Libraries and CDL. Beginning with city government documents and historical materials, SFPL created an entire scanning department. To date, the library has digitized 13,000 books and documents with the Internet Archive, which have received over 7.5 million views. Since November 2018, SFPL has donated 30,000 copyrighted books to the Internet Archive as part of its community distribution program.
“Having this alternative virtual lending site as an option has been great,” Lambert said. ”Librarians have been able to confidently weed excess, outdated materials from our collection, secure in knowledge that the books will not disappear, but rather have a new life where people around the world can read and research the materials that SFPL has meticulously collected over the decades.”
The Internet Archive embodies library values: persistence, comprehensiveness and accessibility, said Lambert. “The Archive has become a crucial part of the broad library information eco-system,” he said. “They have provided examples that have challenged traditional libraries. The Internet Archive helps other libraries see what’s possible.”
What Internet Archive Founder Brewster Kahle hopes is possible is digitization will allow more online sources to be linked to books, providing people trust information.
“If Wikipedia is the encyclopedia of the Internet, we are trying to build the library of the Internet,” Kahle explained at the forum. “Let’s make it really easy for people to go deeper.”
So far, the Internet Archive has turned 122,000 references on Wikipedia to digitized book links through its online library. Still, a century of books is missing after 1923 because of copyright laws. Kahle called on libraries to help fill that gap.
As part of that strategy, the Internet Archive is trying to institutionalize CDL, a practice that has been successfully working in a handful of libraries for eight years with no negative pushback. Yet, it has not been widely embraced. Kahle appealed to libraries to endorse CDL and donate books for scanning to address the larger goal of universal access to knowledge.
Framing the approach
The forum hosted experts to explain the legal underpinnings of CDL and discuss how the concept fits into the overall push to level the playing field for access to information.
Lila Bailey of the Internet Archive moderated a conversation with Kyle Courtney, Copyright Advisor at Harvard University, David Hansen, Associate University Librarian at Duke University, and Michelle Wu, Associate Dean for Library Services and Professor of Law at the Georgetown Law Library in Washington, D.C.
They have written a paper spelling out how libraries can practice CDL within the confines the fair use doctrine in current copyright law. Copyright law established in 1976 and dating back to 1950 does not reflect the digital reality today and it should allow flexibility for libraries to lend out one book at a time – no matter what the format – digital or print, they maintain.
To garner broad support for the concept of CDL, John Bergmayer of the nonprofit, Public Knowledge, spoke about the need to build relationships with lawmakers and educate them on the issue. This summer, he led a group engaged in CDL to The Hill in Washington, D.C. to brief members of Congress and their aides on the importance of expanding access to library materials through CDL.
“You have to make a project matter to the politicians,” explained Bergmayer. In the case of CDL, it’s about outlining the benefits of providing access to rural patrons, protecting materials from damage from disasters, saving libraries money, and helping K-12 school libraries, among others. “You want to get people to do the right thing for their reasons, not your reason — and show how your issue affects voters.”
Heather Joseph, Executive Director of the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), said CDL fits into the larger open agenda that advocates for unrestricted access to research. “It’s a vision based on opportunity,” said Joseph. “An old tradition and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good.”
Now more than ever, in an era of “fake news,” and “alternative facts,” free, immediate access to high-quality vetted, source material is crucial for scholars, scientists, students, journalists, policymakers – everyone, she said.
“CDL is a pragmatic, incremental step towards open that operates in a way that’s respectful of libraries current operations and of copyright. It moves the needle towards open,” said Joseph. “CDL can contribute to collective movement towards a full vision of open access to knowledge.”
Opening Doors for Students
Making digital books more widely available to students has the potential for remedying inequities in education. Nationwide, public school districts have lost 20 percent of their libraries and librarians in recent years. Lisa Petrides, founder of the non-profit Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education, has embraced CDL as a model to build a Universal School Library (USL) and connect students – particularly from under-resources schools — to relevant materials that increasingly are digital.
“CDL holds the potential to broaden access to knowledge in public schools in a way that schools haven’t even begun to tap,” said Petrides, who is trying to curate an inclusive collection of 15,000 high-quality digitized books. “We are taking an equity lens in terms of diversity.”
The Detroit School of Arts will be piloting USL and Librarian Karen Lemmons said she was excited to be able to offer her high school students books they can access while they are on the go. “This might give them an opportunity to read in between practices. They can pull out their phone and read a few pages. It’s mobile and flexible,” said Lemmon, noting that reading is closely linked to student achievement. “Our students really do want to be the best.”
Lemmons said she wants to be a model for other urban schools. “We want to be a driving force to get other libraries involved,” said Lemmons. “This is a data-driven district and we will need data to show reading more makes a difference in student performance.”
When the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, recently was doing a $20 million renovation to its library, the Internet Archive approached it about digitizing their collection. The library already had its books packed on pallets, but instead of storing them decided to have them all scanned, explained Michael Barker, Director of Academy Research, Information and Library Services.
“We had this very well-intentioned idea to create a space for learners of the 21st century. It’s all good. It is a space of immense privilege. But it takes a vision to think well beyond our campus to say that belongs to every learner. That opportunity is to digitize the entire collection – that’s why we are all in,” said Barker of the school’s decision to participate in CDL “It goes to the heart of what Phillips was founded on. This school is for youth from every quarter and we try to live out that ideal as a private school for a public purpose.”
Next, Barker said he would like to see peer prep schools join the CDL model to further expand access to schools without the same resources.
CDL in Action
As the first library to use the CDL approach, the Boston Public Library recently extended its offerings by scanning its historic Alice Jordan Collection of 250,000 children’s books that were in storage. It has also digitized city directories, cookbooks and other fact-based documents in its catalog. Recently, it got permission from Boston-based publisher Houghton Mifflin to digitize its entire trade collection that is housed at BPL.
Expanding its CDL involvement, BPL’s Tom Blake challenged participants to bring another partner library next year to the forum.
“This the first time, I feel like it’s less about digitization and scanning and more about us, as librarians, leveraging not just our collections, but our historical collection policies with each other,” said Blake, who has been attending the library leaders forum for 10 years.
In discussing how to improve the CDL process, meeting participants suggested adjusting the amount of time users checked out titles and allowing for short-term loans. Perhaps smarter return and wait-list notifications could be developed to encourage faster processing of books. Others said re-branding Digital Rights Management (DRM) software with a different moniker to that would be more appealing to librarians.
In Sonoma County, California, Geoffrey Skinner said its 14 public library branches have just starting to participate in CDL. It first scanned documents in the history and genealogy library, then digitized its specialized wine library.
“We are doing a massive weed of our closed stacks. By taking those material to the Internet Archive, we will have digital access back,” said Skinner. Having library materials online will benefit many of the county’s rural users who otherwise travel far to access the physical books and provide access for print-disabled patrons.
Justin Gardner, Special Collections Librarian at the American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, Kentucky, said digitizing 9,000 books in its collection has preserved rare and fragile documents, including books autographed by Helen Keller. Also, being located in Kentucky, it gives people interested in their materials from anywhere.
“We are becoming the go-to place for visual impairment materials,” said Gardner. Now these research documents are in an accessible form for people who have visual impairments and have never been able to read these materials before they were digitized.
At the forum, Mike Buschman of the Washington State Library announced that the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) voted to endorse CDL. “It feels like it’s entering a new, good phase – a traction phase,” he said.
Kahle emphasized the need for CDL to be a community project and build a deeper collection. “We have to brave up,” he said. “We just act in good faith. We aren’t pirates. We are trying to do the right thing.”
Chief Librarian and CEO at the Hamilton Public Library in Canada Paul Takala said his institution is an enthusiastic supporter of CDL. With a long history of innovation, moving forward with digitizing is the right move – despite the technical challenges – to make information more accessible to patrons, he said.
“Deeper collaboration is needed. It’s hard to get adequate resources,” said Takala. “As a library community, we are generally risk adverse. When we talk about CDL, I think we need to take a more balanced view….If we make what’s available in our community to other communities – and others make their collections available – then everyone wins.”
Dale Askey, Vice Provost at the University of Alberta, said he liked Takala’s challenge to pull more Canadian institutions past their risk aversion to embrace CDL. “It’s great to see people aligning behind these principles and taking this to scale,” said Askey, whose university has scanned an historic collection of education materials with zero negative impact. “There is a strong history and impulse at the university to do things with maximum benefit to the largest possible community.”
Princeton Theological Seminary is piloting CDL and it has created a secure area in its library for the physical collection, so that when a digital copy is checked out that the physical copy will reside there. Participating the program has great potential benefits for the seminary’s reach, according to Managing Director of the Library Evelyn Frangakis.
“The PTS comprehensive theological collection is in high demand and the CDL library allows increased accessibility to all users, including those with various print disabilities,” said Frangakis. “I think CLD is gaining momentum. That’s really heartening for broad access to the materials that we are able to contribute to this program. It’s going to continue to grow.”
Ross Mounce, Director of Open Access Programmes at Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin in London, said he was encouraged by participation in the forum and said action points were clear and institutions can choose their level of engagement.
“It’s nice seeing things moving forward. At the end of the day, it just makes sense,” said Mounce of CDL. “If you own a physical copy of a book, you should be able to loan a digital version of it. Libraries should be able to lend books.”
Added Wu of Georgetown: “I’m delighted there has been a lot more buy in in recent years. The voices and the participants are much more diverse. Libraries [like Phillips] are willing to go all in and that’s remarkable. It is true that if we get more of those, I think we will see a true movement across the nation.”
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!
This Q&A kicks off a series of conversations with visionary publishers who support e-book digital library lending with OpenLibrary.org.
Mark Coker, Founder, CEO and Chief Author Advocate, founded Smashwords to change the way books are published, marketed and sold. In just three years it has become the leading ebook publishing and distribution platform for independent authors and small publishers. The Wall Street Journal named Mark Coker one of the “Eight Stars of Self-Publishing” in 2010. He is a contributing columnist for the Huffington Post, where he writes about ebooks and the future of publishing. For Smashwords updates, follow Mark on Twitter at @markcoker.
Q. What is the relationship between publishers and Open Library?
A: “There is an intersection of common interest with publishers and Open Library – the passionate desire to get books to readers. The innovators at Open Library understand that the way people access books is an ongoing evolution and they are at the forefront of finding solutions to support all the key stakeholders – publishers and distributors, authors and most of all, readers.
Q: How do Libraries help to support book distribution?
“Its simple – the more readers have a chance to engage with a book, the more likely they are to recommend it, or purchase it.”
A: Open Library purchases your books and shares them with readers by creating a web page for each book, with a cover photo and descriptive information. There are prompts to read, borrow and buy. Open Library has more than 4,600,000 unique visitors a month.
Q: What makes Smashwords different from other publishing organizations?
A: Smashwords represents 19,000 indie authors and small presses who handle the writing, editing and pricing of their books. We distribute these titles to major retailers such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and Diesel. We believe that authors should maintain the creative and financial control of their work and receive the lion share of income. Our authors keep upwards of 85% of the profits on the books we distribute.
Q. Why are some publishers and authors excited about e-books accessed via public libraries?
“If you build it, they will come.”
A: Our authors and publishers rely on Smashwords to open up new opportunities to reach readers. We’re working with most of the biggest indie authors, and many of them are excited about libraries. Open Library and its partners believe, “if you build it, they will come and I agree. As demand for ebooks through a digital public library systems increase, publishers will better understand the value of partnering with Open Library. We hope they utilize Smashwords to reach these new distribution venues.
Young Adult e-Books by Amanda Hocking available on OpenLibrary.org
Smashwords’ best-selling authors contribute to OpenLibrary.org
Smashwords, the largest distributor of independently published literature, recently provided the Internet Archive and OpenLibrary.org with its first installment of e-Books from best known, best-selling e-Book authors including: Young Adult sensation Amanda Hocking; Fantasy author, Brian Pratt; Romance novelist Ruth Ann Nordin; and Business Expert, Gerald Weinberg.
Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords believes that libraries are crucial to every publisher’s survival because they provide the face to face connection between readers, authors and books.
“We see tremendous value in partnering with the Internet Archive. Their visionary leadership is helping to create a worldwide digital public library.” Mark Coker, CEO, Smashwords
The deposit by Smashwords was a first attempt at demonstrating the feasibility of making modern books more globally accessible through OpenLibrary.org. Next up – the creation of a new model that supports the on-going purchase of e-Books by participating libraries.
“The publishing world is rapidly changing,” asserts Coker, “There’s plenty of room for numerous distribution models and in my opinion, publishers should be bending over backwards to support these initiatives.”
“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.
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.
As an Archive first, Brewster Kahle and June Goldsmith met with the Prime Minister of Greece, the Minister of Culture, and the Minister of Education, and their respective teams as a member of 8 outsiders for 6 hours last friday to talk about educational technologies. We met in their equivalent of the White House. We were honored to be invited, but floored that there would be such dedicated time devoted to the subject at such a high level. It was heartening to see the Prime Minister and these top Ministers discuss and change their opinions based on studies and experiences relayed by domain experts that have no financial levers on Greek power.
We talked about reading tablets, digital lending programs, smart whiteboards, and digitizing their libraries. The National Library of Greece has approximately one million volumes in it, and about 7,000 to 8,000 new books are published in Greek each year.
As is widely known it is a difficult time in Greece because of the monetary crisis, and this was apparent in the streets because of strikes and graffiti.
I hope something comes of this meeting, but at least we were honored to have the chance to advise such a group.