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The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 15, April 13, 2008, Article 14

THOUGHTS ON DIGITIZING NUMISMATIC LITERATURE

Mark Tomasko writes: "I was pleased to see the comments about
the transitory nature of electronic media from Nancy Green and
others. This is a crucial point which is too often ignored.
And I was surprised at your statement that 'While digitizing
books for easier access is great, the institutions should
NEVER dispose of the original source material, although of
course many do so anyway.' The logical result of that last
statement ('...of course many do so anyway') is that digitizing
books for easier access is NOT great. It is instead a significant
threat to the survival of many books, and will become even more
so as cost pressures of storage and space increase. My hope is
that the '$150,000 digitizing machine' never shows up at the
ANA library."

[I didn't have time to make further comments last week, but
this is a good follow-on topic.  I was thinking specifically
about libraries which deaccessioned their periodical holdings
after microfilming or digitizing them.  There are ephemera
dealers making a very big business out of splitting up and
selling massive archives of old newspapers, and it's a great
loss to the institutions and our collective memory.  Once
broken up these sets cannot be reassembled.  Without the
originals to return to, the information can be lost forever
if there's a problem with the new media.  -Editor]

Jorg Lueke writes: "I just wanted to share some thoughts
about digital works.  There's no doubt in my mind that at
some point in the future everything will be published digitally.
It's too powerful in terms of storage and search capability
not to become the norm once technical details and protections
are worked out.  Certainly books will also stay around, at
least until someone invents paper that behaves like a computer
screen.

"In the near term digitizing of out of print and out of
copyright works will certainly continue as well.  While
the scanner mentioned in The E-Sylum costs $150,000, for
1/10th that price a decent amount of automation can be
purchased.  As I find the time I plan on putting the first
six volumes of the Numismatist online.  I've also been
thinking about finding a way to let people share uploads
of digitized books so that collectively the information
can be much more quickly converted.

"All of this will be quite good - more knowledge at more
people's fingertips.  Some things, like my recent purchase
of the 1898 Numismatique Gazette may lose in value as the
information becomes available online but for books that are
in demand the collector base for the tactile word will
probably keep prices pretty steady."

 DIGITIZING BOOKS HELPS RESEARCHERS DO THEIR HOMEWORK
 esylum_v11n14a13.html

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor 
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