Wednesday, December 20, 2006

$1 million grant to digitize materials

Today the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation...

will announce a $1 million grant to the Internet Archive, a leader in the Open Content Alliance, to help pay for digital copies of collections owned by the Boston Public Library, the Getty Research Institute, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The works to be scanned include the personal library of John Adams, America's second president, and thousands of images from the Metropolitan Museum.

The Sloan grant also will be used to scan a collection of anti-slavery material provided by the John Hopkins University Libraries and documents about the Gold Rush from a library at the University of California at Berkeley.

The deal represents a coup for Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle, a strident critic of the controls that Google has imposed on its book-scanning initiative. (Complete article)

The Internet Archive wants to build digital resources that are open to everyone, while Google is scanning materials that may have restricted access. I'm sure, though, that the difference -- between what the Internet Archive and Google are doing -- is more than access to the materials once scanned. Both may be trying to prove who can do "it" better (technology, process, etc.) as well as trying to assure their spot in history. [You may think I'm nuts for saying that, but the mummers behind the scenes point to this being a competition on various levels.]

The good news is that while Google, the Internet Archive and others try to "one up" each other, content is being digitized and we all will benefit from that.

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