Sunday, March 08, 2009

Brewster Kahle, archivist and idealist | The internet's librarian | The Economist

Read the full article for more details on an important initiative that appears to be on a collision course with Google’s Book Search strategy

But all these things are steps towards Mr Kahle’s wider goal: to build the world’s largest digital library. He has recruited 135 libraries worldwide to openlibrary.org, the aim of which is to create a catalogue of every book ever published, with links to its full text where available. To that end, the Internet Archive is also digitising books on a large scale on behalf of its library partners. It scans more than 1,000 books every day, for which the libraries pay about $30 each. (The digital copy can then be made available by both parties.)

Some 200 people work for the Internet Archive, which has an annual budget of $10m-14m. Initially funded by Mr Kahle, the archive now gets much of its income from grants made by foundations and from libraries that pay it to digitise their books. It also runs a variety of one-off projects, such as a collaboration with America’s space agency, NASA, to make available photos and films relating to the history of the space programme, and a “print on demand” system to turn digital files into physical books in minutes.

Brewster Kahle, archivist and idealist | The internet's librarian | The Economist

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