One of every book written

“To the making of many books there is no end…” — Ecclesiastes 12:12 NWT

Brewster Kahle is making a Noah’s Ark of sorts for books. He is collecting and preserving a physical copy of every book ever published. Earlier projects of his include the digital library internet archive. He was recently inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame. The book preservation project is fascinating in how it anticipates the future. Here’s an excerpt from an article from the Huffington Post on this archiving project:

The Huffington Post reports:

“Brewster Kahle, Richmond-Based Internet Archivist, Seeks One Of Every Book Written

Tucked away in a small warehouse on a dead-end street, an Internet pioneer is building a bunker to protect an endangered species: the printed word.

Brewster Kahle, 50, founded the nonprofit Internet Archive in 1996 to save a copy of every Web page ever posted. Now the MIT-trained computer scientist and entrepreneur is expanding his effort to safeguard and share knowledge by trying to preserve a physical copy of every book ever published.

“There is always going to be a role for books,” said Kahle as he perched on the edge of a shipping container soon to be tricked out as a climate-controlled storage unit. Each container can hold about 40,000 volumes, the size of a branch library. “We want to see books live forever.”

So far, Kahle has gathered about 500,000 books. He thinks the warehouse itself is large enough to hold about 1 million titles, each one given a barcode that identifies the cardboard box, pallet and shipping container in which it resides.

That’s far fewer than the roughly 130 million different books Google engineers involved in that company’s book scanning project estimate to exist worldwide. But Kahle says the ease with which they’ve acquired the first half-million donated texts makes him optimistic about reaching what he sees as a realistic goal of 10 million, the equivalent of a major university library.

“The idea is to be able to collect one copy of every book ever published. We’re not going to get there, but that’s our goal,” he said.

Recently, workers in offices above the warehouse floor unpacked boxes of books and entered information on each title into a database. The books ranged from “Moby Dick” and “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” to “The Complete Basic Book of Home Decorating” and “Costa Rica for Dummies.”

At this early stage in the book collection process, specific titles aren’t being sought out so much as large collections. Duplicate copies of books already in the archive are re-donated elsewhere. If someone does need to see an actual physical copy of a book, Kahle said it should take no more than an hour to fetch it from its dark, dry home.

“The dedicated idea is to have the physical safety for these physical materials for the long haul and then have the digital versions accessible to the world,” Kahle said.

Peter Hanff, acting director of the Bancroft Library, the special collections and rare books library at the University of California, Berkeley, says that just keeping the books on the West Coast will save them from the climate fluctuations that are the norm in other parts of the country.

He praises digitization as a way to make books, manuscripts and other materials more accessible. But he too believes that the digital does not render the physical object obsolete.

People feel an “intimate connection” with artifacts, such as a letter written by Albert Einstein or a papyrus dating back millennia.

“Some people respond to that with just a strong emotional feeling,” Hanff said. “You are suddenly connected to something that is really old and takes you back in time.”

Since Kahle’s undergraduate years in the early 1980s, he has devoted his intellectual energy to figuring out how to create what he calls a digital version of ancient Egypt’s legendary Library of Alexandria. He currently leads an initiative called Open Library, which has scanned an estimated 3 million books now available for free on the Web.

Many of these books for scanning were borrowed from libraries. But Kahle said he began noticing that when the books were returned, the libraries were sometimes getting rid of them to make more room on their shelves. Once a book was digitized, the rationale went, the book itself was no longer needed.

Despite his life’s devotion to the promise of digital technology, Kahle found his faith in bits and bytes wasn’t strong enough to cast paper and ink aside. Even as an ardent believer in the promise of the Internet to make knowledge more accessible to more people than ever, he feared the rise of an overconfident digital utopianism about electronic books.

And he said he simply had a visceral reaction to the idea of books being thrown away.

“Knowledge lives in lots of different forms over time,” Kahle said. “First it was in people’s memories, then it was in manuscripts, then printed books, then microfilm, CD-ROMS, now on the digital Internet. Each one of these generations is very important.””

Read the entire article here.

Links of interest:

Profile for Brewster Kahle on TED
CNET reports: Internet Hall of Fame inducts first members
Excellent article in Business Standard: Too much or too little

A reverent home for words

Image courtesy of Design Top News

Via BoingBoing:

Church converted into magnificent bookstore

This breathtaking place is a former Dominican church that was converted into a new retail location for bookseller Selexyz Dominicanen. The architecture firm was Merkx+Girod. From Design Top News:

    The store demanded 1,200 sq m of commercial area where only 750 were available.

    The initial idea of the client to install a second floor within the church was rejected by the designers, because this would completely destroy the spatial qualities of the church. The solution was found in the creation of a monumental walk-in bookcase spanning several floors and situated a-symmetrically in the church. In doing so the left side of the church remained empty while on the other side customers are lead upstairs in the three- storey ‘Bookflat.’

    The ground floor gives room to several different book displays, information desks, magazine-stands and cash registers, all made of standard sheet materials in different colours and surfaces.


High Button Boot photo courtesy of Paperblanks
The exuberant fabric and flashy gold buttons
of these boots seem to contradict the concern
for feminine modesty that dictated ankle-concealing
footwear in the late 19th century.
— Paperblanks

Paper Happiness

If you love Paperblanks, like I do, and you didn’t get your favorite day planner this year, like I didn’t, because they were SOLD OUT, then you will find this to be good and helpful news.

Some of the sold out designs can still be found in little pockets across the country. The home office (1-800-277-5887) gave me 6 different stores to call and I found mine on the first call that I made to All the Details (602-370-6819.)

All the Details doesn’t have a website and they don’t take credit cards. The person that I dealt with sent my book immediately–no charge for shipping–and trusted me to send a check.

It took only two days to arrive in Minnesota from Arizona –I just got it today. Features include
dual ribbon markers, memento pouch, and superb binding quality.

perfect fit
Annette Marie Hyder

the days fit my soul like new shoes
that through the years
become thinner
letting me feel the things beneath my feet
that much keener–
the softest grass
the sharpest rock

until that day when i wont need
shoes anymore