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New project to scan brittle books at Library of Congress

Library gets $2 million grant to develop best practices for handling ancient manuscripts. Important works from US history including Civil War collections and Franklin's library.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor on

Scholars and students of old and fragile books will be glad to know that the cause to digitize all literature has been recently enhanced by a grant to by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, reports the Associated Press.

The Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced recently that the Library of Congress was awarded a $2 million grant for a program to digitize thousands of works with a major focus on "brittle books."

This project is part of a larger effort by Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. to put literature online and available to everyone. Dubbed "Digitizing American Imprints," the program seeks to identify best practices for handling and scanning those books and collections, according to its managers.

"It is inspiring to think that one of these books, many of which are in physical jeopardy, might spark the creativity of a future scholar or ordinary citizen who otherwise might not have had access to this wealth of human understanding," Billington said in a statement.

Along with the program, the Library is developing page-turning technology to scan and display fold-out books. Included in the plans is the scanning of American history volumes, U.S. genealogy and regimental histories that hold personal collections from the Civil War period, and six collections of rare books including the Benjamin Franklin Collection.

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