I was in a Printing house in Hell and saw the method in which knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation. —Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
With my colleague Neil Fraistat, I recently paid a visit to the Internet Archive in San Francisco’s Presidio, where we had the privilege of listening to chief digital librarian Brewster Khale explain their books scanning process.
By the way, if you’ve never read Blake, hell is a much more interesting place than heaven.
Trust me, it’s where you’d want to be.
The “Scribe” scanner, custom built. Books are held open by the weight of the V-shaped glass plates, and automatically centered for the camera by springs. A foot pedal raises and lowers the glass. Pages are turned by hand. The Internet Archive currently has 213,000+ books scanned, and they’re averaging about 12,000 more a month.
The bits go here. A sample Internet Archive server rack, encompassing a petabyte of storage. A petabyte is 1000 terabytes, and a terabyte is 1000 gigabytes.
Printing and binding station. Via duplex printing, the Internet Archive derives print-on-demand copies of the digital book files in their collection. These are distributed by BookMobiles, among other channels.
The Internet Archive edition of Washington Irving’s Old Christmas. The books are also, of course, available in a variety of electronic formats, including plain text, PDF, and a graphical page-flip format.Posted by mgk at June 16, 2007 11:00 PM