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Libraries on the Move

More than 65,000 19th-century works of fiction from the British Library’s collection will be available this spring for free downloads thanks to Microsoft funding of the library’s e-book publishing project.  Users will also be able to order printed copies from Amazon.  Both the onscreen and paperback versions will mimic the frequently rare 19th-century editions in the library’s collection, including their typeface and illustrations.  Times Online, February 7, 2010, http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article7017899.ece.

Reading: Harvard Views of Readers, Readership, and Reading History, developed by Harvard’s Open Collections Program with support from the Arcadia Fund, is an online exploration of the intellectual, cultural, and political history of reading as reflected in the historical holdings of the Harvard Libraries.  The collection includes 1,200 books and manuscripts — comprising more than 250,000 Web-accessible pages.  Visit the collection at http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/readingPress Release, March 1, 2010, http://hul.harvard.edu/news/2010_0301.html.

Oregon State University is loaning out Amazon Kindle electronic readers stocked with the latest in popular books.  Students and faculty sign up to use a Kindle, then buy up to $20 in e-books to read when it’s their turn to borrow the device.  Oregon State covers these costs, and the electronic books remain as part of the library’s e-book collection.  The e-book loaner program will cost the university about $2,000 this year; the school pays for the program with “gift money” donated to Valley Library.  The program began in November 2009 with six Kindles and demand led to the purchase of 12 more Kindles in February.  eCampus News, March 1, 2010, http://www.ecampusnews.com/2010/03/01/university-library-sees-demand-for-kindles-soar.

The University of Michigan has developed the PictureIt Rare Book Reader, a Web-based animation program that gives users the sensation of turning the pages of digitized rare materials that would be otherwise difficult to view or obtain.  Volume 1 of John James Audubon’s Birds of America was selected as the inaugural PictureIt book.  To view Birds of America, go to http://www.lib.umich.edu/pictureit/audubon_volume1.htmlPress Release, March 9, 2010, http://www.lib.umich.edu/news/pictureit-rare-book-reader.

Google announced an agreement with the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage to work with the National Libraries of Florence and Rome to digitize up to one million out-of-copyright works.  The libraries will select the works to be digitized from their collections, which include a wealth of rare historical books, including scientific works, literature from the period of the founding of Italy and the works of Italy’s most famous poets and writers.  This is Google’s first venture with Italian libraries.  Google Blog, March 10, 2010, http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/digital-renaissance-partnering-with.html.

Harvard and MIT have opened large parts of their library collections to undergraduates at both schools in a new partnership.  Harvard students will be able to access MIT libraries including the school’s expansive engineering collection, while MIT students will have access to most of Harvard College Library.  HCL, which manages the circulation of over 11 million items, is the largest unit within Harvard’s library system.  The collaboration, a 14-month pilot program, comes as Harvard is reexamining its current library structure and looking to increase access to materials not found in the University’s own libraries.  The Harvard Crimson, April 6, 2010, http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2010/4/6/library-access-harvard-students/.

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