Library Books Go Digital

Nathaniel Flahardy, Design and Graphics Editor

The GHC libraries have been collectively gathering their outdated books to be digitized and archived. With most staff removed from the premises due to COVID-19, the project is on hold until the librarians are able to be on campus.

This project is in conjunction with Open Libraries, who enlisted the GHC libraries to undergo the transition. Open Libraries is a branch of the Internet Archive aimed at digitizing in-copyright books.

Books published before 1923, which are now out of copyright, have been digitized freely since the 1990s, and books published since the 1990s often have digital versions made. However, books published in the 1930s through the 1980s that are still in copyright are neglected. Open Libraries hopes to change that.

The process that allows this is called controlled lending. A book is shipped to be digitized, and the physical copy is stored. The digital copy can then be distributed so long as it is only sent to one person at a time.

Susanna Smith is the sole librarian in charge of removing the books to be digitized and researching what books should replace those being removed.

“Not all the content is out of date or not useful,” Smith said.

An example she gave is of a historian researching the 1950s who needs to know what people thought in that period.

Each campus library is involved in this process, totaling about 8,000 books to be removed and replaced. 5,000 books are coming from the Floyd campus library, where the most outdated collection sits.

“What we need to do in the library is largely physical —  select the books, scan and remove them from the computer, box them up,” said Smith. Because of the nature of this process and the lack of physical presence due to COVID-19, this process has been severely impacted.