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New Books from Old: A Proposal

WithDavid Cohen

Library work is replete with ironies. My favorite example is the so-called 80/20 rule where no matter what size the library collection is, you can be sure that only 20% of the books will ever circulate. The ironies seem to multiply when you introduce publishers and scholars into the equation. Our universities hire scholars who do research. The universities then provide additional support, stipends, grants and the like, to conduct this research. When the research is finished, the university pays subventions to publishers in the form of page costs so the research can appear as a journal article. The university library then pays to subscribe to the journal, and now the university may pay for the same information in an electronic format. These ironies perhaps are the focus of some of the other NASIG/SSP sessions. This morning, however, I would like to consider yet another irony; preservation, that subset of library work which revolves around old, embrittled books, and the art and craft of book repair and conservation, may offer a new paradigm for library acquisitions and book publishing. This morning I will describe a project, very much in the planning stage, which uses scanning and high speed computer printing technology to produce on demand copies of out-of-print books.