Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Print on Demand -- Brewster Kahle at RootsTech

Of all the amazing things at RootsTech, one of the most amazing was the one hour presentation by Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive and one of the most amazing things about the Internet Archive is the Internet Archive Bookmobile. To quote from the website, "In a celebration of the Public Domain, the Internet Archive's Bookmobile will be coming to a town near you, bringing with it the ability to access, download, and print one of the almost 20,000 public domain books currently available online."

In his presentation, Brewster recounted the impact of freely accessible books in the poorer nations of the world, with the project currently in countries like Egypt and India. Again quoting from the website:

Why a Bookmobile? Just like the bookmobiles of the past brought wonderful books to people in towns across America, this century's bookmobile will bring an entire digital library to their grandchildren. The Internet Archive's mission is to provide universal access to human knowledge, and given the advancement of digital storage and communications this goal is now achievable. Part of accomplishing that goal is to make sure that public domain books are available digitally. Another part is making sure people across the country have access to those works whether by reading on a screen, or more likely, to be printed back out again as a book.
So what is the Bookmobile? It is a mobile digital library capable of downloading public domain books from the Internet via satellite and printing them anytime, anywhere, for anyone. It will be traveling across the country from San Francisco to Washington D.C., stopping at schools, libraries and retirement homes; places where people understand the value of a book. After the bookmobile leaves, each library will understand what it would take to make print and bind public domain books for their patrons.
Now what does this have to do with genealogy? The Internet Archive helped supply the equipment and the software for the BYU Family History Archive project that is currently digitizing thousands of family histories and genealogy related books. There is a distinct possibility that print on demand, like that done by the Bookmobile may be one way to save the libraries. I mentioned the Open Library project previously, the Bookmobile is part of all of these projects.

RootsTech opened up a whole new world of how technology is affecting the acquisition, storage and retrieval of information in all forms.

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