US Library of Congress Gets $2 Million to Digitize Historical Books

The US Library of Congress announces a grant to help digitize thousands of books for online access.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today announced that the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded the Library of Congress a $2 million grant for a program to digitize thousands of public-domain works, with a major focus on at-risk “brittle books” and U.S. history volumes.

The project, “Digitizing American Imprints at the Library of Congress,” will include not only the scanning of volumes, but also the development of suitable page-turner display technology, capability to scan and display foldouts, and a pilot program to capture high-level metadata, such as table of contents, chapters/sections and index. Past digitization projects have shied away from brittle books because of the condition of the materials, but “Digitizing American Imprints” intends to serve as a demonstration project of best practices for the handling and scanning of such vulnerable works.

Books and collections to be digitized include:

  • “Brittle books” from across the Library’s General Collection.
  • American history
  • U.S. genealogy and regimental histories from the Civil War period
  • Six collections of Rare Books including the Benjamin Franklin Collection, selections from the Katherine Golden Bitting and the Elizabeth Robins Pennell Collections of Gastronomy, a selection of 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.
  • Books covering the technical aspects of photography and the artistic publications and biographies of photographers

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Lorelle VanFossen hosts Family History Blog covering her ancestors and related family members. She is one of the top bloggers in the world, and host of the Lorelle on WordPress, providing WordPress and blogging tips for bloggers of all levels. A popular keynote speaker and trainer, she is also editor, producer, contributor, and official disruptive thinker for Bitwire Media which includes WordCast, Making My Life Network, Stories of Our Journeys, Life on the Road, WordCast Conversations, and the very popular WordCast Podcast.
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2 Responses to US Library of Congress Gets $2 Million to Digitize Historical Books

  1. Pauine Kobleur says:

    What happens to books that are no longer in print? How can I find a copy if the local library cannot find one?

  2. Well, I’m not the person to ask, but I find out of print books online. I buy them if I really need them. There are a lot of genealogy books that are out of date at LDS Family History Centers and other various historical agencies like the National Archives.

    For really old books, I find a ton of them online in digital form. I love the Gutenberg.org project and there are plenty of other free downloadable books online.

    There are also many historical societies and genealogy research centers which do loaners.

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