Library of Congress Book Scanning Project

A fine project underway at the Library of Congress that should make historians everywhere happy. It is fitting, I think, that this story appeared on Christmas Eve.

I do wonder, however, what the degree of overlap is with those books scanned by the Google Books project.

Washington — Nearly 60,000 books prized by historians, writers and genealogists, many too old and fragile to be safely handled, have been digitally scanned as part of the first-ever mass book-digitization project of the U.S. Library of Congress (LOC), the world’s largest library. Anyone who wants to learn about the early history of the United States, or track the history of their own families, can read and download these books for free.

“The Library chose books that people wanted, but that were too old and fragile to serve to readers. They won’t stand up to handling,” said Michael Handy, who co-managed the project, which is called Digitizing American Imprints.

“Many of these books cover a period of Western settlement of the United States — 1865–1922 — and offer historians a trove of information that’s otherwise tough to locate,” he said.

Many of the newly digitized LOC works contain hard-to-obtain Civil War regimental histories and county, state and regional information relating to specific people, their occupations and families, and other details that are important for historians and genealogists.

The books themselves end up in the Internet Archive (most famous for the Wayback Machine) where they can be found alongside full texts from a variety of other collections.  You may search these here.

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Published in: on January 22, 2010 at 4:52 AM  Leave a Comment  
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