Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hard copy books and digitized books

Of course, a guy my age has accumulated a library of hard and soft cover books for which I finally have no storage space. It was fine while I maintained an office outside of my home. Countless books were contained and I annually added to this resource. It was crucial when I began my work as a pastor in a small eastern Ontario town, to have a starter library. Access to tools of my trade was impossible if I didn’t have them myself. After almost fifty years and having retired from my work, the library space required for my acquired collection exceeds my present home. I surrendered boxes of books to various second hand shops the first month after I retired. My garage still holds boxes of books that I will never use. I have found it interesting that other pastors are reluctant to receive my books because they have already assembled a working library or they have become users of CD library resources which are staggeringly comprehensive, or they access what they require from online libraries. Within the next year or so we will sell our large home and move into more modest space and then my most radical library reduction will occur. More discards, more searches for grateful recipients, and a deep sense of loss. But a friend recently told me that he is going to teach at an international seminary which has limited library resources. He wondered whether I could give up some relevant books for their library. I said happily. I could give boxes of books but the cost of shipping makes this almost prohibitive.

Certainly in our western world, the change within the literary community is dramatic. Google began a digitizing project in 2005, digitizing books regardless of copyright in the USA, but displaying only portions. Seven million books have been scanned with the plan for twenty million. These will be available online and on new reading devices like the Sony e-book device. That resulted in a class-action lawsuit by the Authors Guild of America. Google is digitizing 500,000 volumes published before 1923 and no longer under copyright protection. Understandably, concerned Canadian publishers and authors are discussing together the legal ramifications of this massive book-digitization initiative.

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