Thursday, February 26, 2009

Penn University to Scan on Demand

The Google library scanning program has been very successful in its appeal to many libraries in scanning the public domain works and now many can potentially all benefit through access the Book Search.

The University of Pennsylvania libraries have gone a different route and announced a collaboration with Kirtas Technologies, who are a major automated scanning and digitization company, to trial scan on demand. Users will be able to order custom print-on-demand (PoD) editions from the 200,000 plus public domain works in the Penn library. However nothing will get scanned until an order is placed. Kirtas gains digital content for sale on its retail site, the Penn library’s digital collection grows by user demand and best of all the program is potentially self funding.

Other libraries are pursuing similar or different digital agendas. In 2007, Emory University initiated a similar program with Kirkus. Cornell has said it intends to increase its PoD offerings through its Amazon partnership, to over 80,000 titles and the library is currently engaged with Google in a program to create some 500,000 digitized books over the next six years. The University of Michigan Library is the first academic library to install an Espresso Book Machine PoD machine on campus.

This program to unlock the huge sleeping giant that is public domain can only be applauded and our concern has and will always be with respect to the ‘grey area’ of out of print but in copyright works and the many orphans that are current vulnerable to illegal adoption.

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