One of the directors of the Royal Library, The Hague – Netherlands, Hans Jansen by name so that posterity may know him, has made known in an interview that the Royal Library – that is our National Library – is planning to scan about 150.000 – 200.000 books en have them OCR’d in the process.
A great project but in this case with a snag that in my modest opinion will put Jansens name on a par with other great destroyers like the infamous sultan who burned the Alexandrian Library to warm his baths. To scan this books on the cheap they will be cut up so that the leaves may be dropped into a sheet-feeding scanner.
Of course: „the copies to be sacrified will be selected carefully“ – something mentioned in the aftermath of a little outcry by scholars and the public and in fact I do not believe that people with the outlook of a mid-fifthies Kolchosfarmer will endorse any carefull selection, but apart from that:
What I would like to know from the Sharp-scholars: how do the books look that have been scanned by Google? Have they been cut up too? Or do they use a non-destructive process?
I have taken a good look at the robots that are used in Germany to process the 16th century books. Is this an expensive way of working?
I believe that there must be methods to scan and OCR on the cheap (we are not talking about the results here since most times you get what you pay for) that are non destructive and any information on them would be more than welcome. Off or onlist.
An interesting onlist discussion would be: how do bookhistorians and librarians feel about this kind of actions of National Libraries?