Thursday, 1 May 2014

Digitalisation: Save the words from fading out

In my last article, I mentioned preserving the old books by digitalisation. Now, I'm going to write more about this, as it is quite an important and interesting topic. The books have also their life cycle and there are many old documents and texts, either written by hand or printed, that have survived too many years and they are starting to be impossible to read, in other words, they are no longer legible.
Every nation or community tries their best to preserve their national heritage. The most famous paintings are protected by special lights or glass, songs are digitalised from the LP records into mp3s, movies are converted from the VHS into DVD or BluRay format. Fans of the TV show Doctor Who are still looking for many old episodes that are completely lost just because BBC decided to get rid of them during the "cleaning" in archives. It works the same way with books.

Why is it important to preserve them?

Many sceptics can ask such question. Well, history repeats itself and many historians believe, that we can learn a lot from the past. While studying history, many old documents are necessary to provide us with information about the past. The use of a bad ink or paper causes the whole paragraphs of text to fade out and the information is lost. Having a non-digitalised archives has been proven to be a bad idea many times. Thing as easy as fire can cause, that countless books or documents are lost in a few minutes. 

Forgotten courage

More than nine million men and women are estimated to have served in the British armed forces during the First World War. Many of the surviving service records from this period can be found in The National Archives, and can be used for tracing an ancestor who fought in the Great War. Unfortunately, more than half of their service records were destroyed in September 1940, when a German bombing raid struck the War Office repository in Arnside Street, London. However, an estimated 2.8 million service records survived the bombing or were reconstructed from the records of the Ministry of Pensions. This means that there is a roughly 40% chance of finding the service record of a soldier who was discharged at some time between 1914 and 1920.
Read more: 
At the time, when the First World War took place, it was almost impossible to preserve the information other than in the form of archived documents. Now, the technology enables us to save everything in the "virtual" or "digital" form, so why not to use this opportunity and make sure we don't forget about the important things from the past.

Project Gutenberg

This is an unbelievably old project established in 1971. Its main purpose is to archive cultural works and national heritage. It now consists of over 45 000 items and it is all the effort of volunteers that keeps this project going. This is the main source for the LibriVox team, already mentioned in my other article.
There are no copyright issues Project Gutenberg should worry about, as all of these books are on the public domain, which means that its intellectual property rights have already expired in the US. 

Our ebooks are free in the United States because their copyright has expired. They may not be free of copyright in other countries. Readers outside of the United States must check the copyright laws of their countries before downloading or redistributing our ebooks. We also have a number of copyrighted titles, for which the copyright holder has given permission for unlimited non-commercial worldwide use.
Read more:

Google Books

This is another service provided by Google Inc. It was founded in 2004 and Google uses its own scanners to digitalise a large amount of books (mainly textbooks for educational purposes). A great advantage of this service is the Optical Character Recognition that converts all the documents into text, which makes it easier to navigate on the page, copy the text or find key words through Google Search. However, not all the books are available for free to everyone, many books are available only partially.

Digital media enable us to preserve what we can and the digital archives create infinitely large libraries with the counless amount of information. It depends only on us, if we fully use these opportunities.

Feel free to comment on any of my articles, follow me on Twitter to find out about the new articles on the blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment