Amir E. Aharoni, 14/10/2011 23:01:
1. It's not really news for me: My professors have
been talking very
angrily about the secret book destruction operations for years and
Asaf Bartov, the founder of BYP , who now works for the WMF, have
been frequently lecturing about this. But Cracked have put it in a
very understandable format.
Well, I think it's worse than what one can understand from that article;
but other problems are even worse.
2. Since Cracked is rather popular, this is an opportunity to
publicize Wikisource, one of Wikimedia most wonderful endeavors.
I doubt it.
criminally under-publicized now.
3. Is there any project, anywhere, to systematically
find books that
are going to be irrecoverably destroyed and to digitize them? I'd
argue that it's more important to digitize them before the more
popular titles, which are less likely to be lost forever. I would also
support the WMF investing money in collaborating with libraries doing
it. BYP, mentioned above, is doing something like this; it is a bunch
of volunteers, working on a shoestring budget in a small country. Is
anybody else doing it?
I don't think anyone else could do it currently: you need to think in
the scale of millions books. The good news is that the IA needs only few
millions dollars for such a project, perhaps they'll be able to
replicate it in Europe. Or, let's hope that some public entity will copy
their pragmatic approach.
In my university we managed to save some thousands books which should
have been destroyed, selling them to students. Perhaps we managed to
keep it a zero losses operation, but it still needed some lobbying, a
bureaucratic niche (it's not so easy to sell public properties) and most
of all a very committed librarian.
But, note that nobody will ever take our hundreds (thousands?) of
shelf-meters of super-old medicine journals. Perhaps we'll find some
millions euros to build a new deposit where they'll be piled up in a
huge compactus nobody will ever access, just for the sake of
preservation, but it's more likely that they'll just rot where they are
without any decision, until we'll be forced to throw them away even
according the most generous librarian standards.
Finally, this is just a minor problem, if you think of the hundreds of
thousands of uncataloged books piled up in the damp cellars of the
Florence National Central Library, going rot for lack of funds... just
to mention the biggest Italian example, because it's the same everywhere.