ATG Article of the Week: In a Flood Tide of Digital Data, an Ark Full of Books

by | Mar 15, 2012 | 0 comments

In a Flood Tide of Digital Data, an Ark Full of Books

This New York Times article focuses on Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive who, “though he started his archiving in the digital realm, … now wants to save physical texts, too.”  In fact, Mr. Kahle has spent $3 million on a repository to house the books he is storing at a pace of around 20,00o volumes per week.  This may seem surprising for a man who has digitized two million books but Mr Kahle has a “deep dedication to traditional printing — one of his sons is named Caslon, after the 18th-century type designer.”  Interestingly Mr Kahle realized the need to preserve print volumes while building the Internet Archive. Evidently, he “abhorred the notion of throwing out a book once it had been scanned.”

And now, libraries are getting into the act.  As Judith Russell, the University of Florida’s dean of libraries notes, “A lot of libraries are doing pretty drastic weeding, … It’s very much more palatable to us and our faculty that books are being sent out to a useful purpose rather than just recycled.”   Ms. Russell and the University of Florida are sending the repository duplicate scholarly volumes.  Mr. Kahle looks for the repository to expand from the current 500,000 volumes to an eventually10 million  books  and other formats —  he is now taking in16 mm films too (Penn State sent 5411 titles from their media collection).   After reading this article, you can only marvel at how the goal of archival preservation can be influenced by one determined visionary.

If you’re interested in hearing more about Mr Kahle and his repository, check out the audio interview we located via InfoDocket: Internet Archive Founder Brewster Kahle Interviewed on Canada’s CBC Radio

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