Prelinger Library Blog

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

An appropriation-friendly, image-rich, experimental research library. Independent and open to the public.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

First Digital Book Distributed

Today is a bit of a milestone. A visitor pulled Finding the Worth While in California (1916) off the shelf and asked if she could scan a page from it to take with her to use in a project. Rick recognized from the bookmark that it had been scanned through the Internet Archive. He downloaded a PDF of the entire book for the visitor and put it on her flash drive. Thus our library became a functioning digital as well as analog book resource.

We are thrilled that the long autumn of digitization has had its first material yield of this kind.

For every book that we submit for scanning, we make thorough investigations to make certain the book is in the public domain. How do we do that? First we check the Rutgers University online platform for copyright renewal records. We also consult the U.S. Copyright Office's renewal records database, though their digital portal does not reach as far back in time as the Rutgers records. And we also have original print copies of the U.S. Copyright Office's renewal records here on our shelves in the library. I also lean on the knowledge base cultivated by the attorney and librarian Mary Minow, who presented an excellent explanation of copyright protections around books -- and how to know where those protections end -- at the Northeast Document Conservation Center's "School for Scanning" workshop in 2004. She also maintains the excellent blog Library Law. If all of these resources agree that a book is public domain (p.d.), then we consider the book to be eligible for scanning. --Megan