New York Public Library does the public domain right

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That is quite excellent. Definitely keeps the library’s image toward its public in good faith, and makes them relevant since they become a valuable source of information that might not be easily available. Seems like a no-brainer, too bad this is not usually the case.


Waiting to see who sues them. This could impact profits, you know!


Just to point out that with a date of 1947 the reason that this particular item is in the public domain is that after 26 years, nobody thought that that it was worth renewing the copyright, just like ~85% of works published. A much better system IMHO than locking everything up for more than 70 years because of the small number of works that have long lasting economic value to be exploited.


Not to diminish the well-deserved recognition that the NYPL has earned, but there are quite a few other libraries upholding the honorable traditions of their service.

I’ll point out (of all places!) Harvard University’s library. While recently researching for a paper on Albert Abraham Michelson, I found to my dismay that many of his papers were still paywalled – and he died in 1931! With a little digging, though, I turned up Harvard’s excellent, extensive, and well-curated collection of high-res scanned (and partly OCRed) papers from assorted scholarly journals from more than a century ago, including but far from limited to the famous paper co-authored with Edward Morley.

They are, I must say, quite readable today and joy to read. Should I ever be in position to do so, I would not hesitate to assign them to students as examples of how a conscientious researcher documents her work.

In any case, when you find a library that is contributing as the NYPL or Harvard do, please recognize their efforts.


Just a few weeks ago a librarian I know said, “Libraries are no longer judged by the number of volumes they hold but by their ability to provide access to information.”

I’ll add that I think libraries should continue to rely on print–that electronic and print collections should complement rather than one entirely supplanting the other, but digitizing collections in this way is a big boost to that mission of providing access.


There’s definitely good interest in print, but generally libraries that operate under the same umbrella share those books now instead of each acting as an island onto themselves. Which is why you can request for certain books that your local library might not have and expect to have it waiting for you after some time.

I think the move toward offering access to digital information is a positive thing, but as you said… print is king in many circumstances.


This is really an excellent project. By doing so all this knowledge will be available to the general public. I hope other libraries follow that example too. A critical factor is the usage of structure data for every book digitized.

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“makes them relevant.”

Quite the damning appraisal.

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