Library of Congress to Digitize Brittle Books

By Swartz, Nikki | Information Management, May/June 2007 | Go to article overview

Library of Congress to Digitize Brittle Books


Swartz, Nikki, Information Management


The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded the Library of Congress a $2 million grant to digitize thousands of public-domain works, focusing on atrisk "brittle books" and U.S. history volumes.

The project, "Digitizing American Imprints at the Library of Congress," will include not only scanning the volumes, but also developing suitable pageturner display technology, the capability to scan and display foldouts, and a pilot program to capture high-level metadata, such as tables of contents, chapters/ sections, and indexes.

Past digitization projects have avoided brittle books because of their fragile condition, but the "Digitizing American Imprints" project aims to set the standard for handling and scanning such vulnerable works.

"Digitizing American Imprints" will use the Open Content Alliance's "Scribe" scanning technology. Scanning is expected to begin within a few months after an initial startup period to establish logistics, staffing, and resources.

The project also includes digitization of works in these other categories:

* U.S. genealogy and regimental histories, including many county, state, and regional histories, as well as histories, memoirs, diaries, and other collections from the Civil War period

* Six collections of rare books, including the Benjamin Franklin Collection, selections from the Katherine Golden Bitting, the Elizabeth Robins Pennell Collections of Gastronomy, first editions from the library's Rare Book and Special Collections Division, selections from the Confederate States of America Collection, the Henry Harrisse Collection of Columbiana, and selections from the Jean Hersholt Collection of Hans Christian Andersen

* Works of photography focusing on the technical aspects of photography and the artistic publications and biographies of photographers

The Alfred P.

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