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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 24, June 11, 2006, Article 25

THE FATE OF THE GREAT LIBRARY OF ALEXANDRIA

Regarding the recent New York Times Magazine article about
book-scanning and the future of books, Ken Berger writes:
"The article stated: "The dream is an old one: to have in one
place all knowledge, past and present. All books, all documents,
all conceptual works, in all languages. It is a familiar hope,
in part because long ago we briefly built such a library. The
great library at Alexandria, constructed around 300 B.C., was
designed to hold all the scrolls circulating in the known
world... ".

But, don't forget, it & its books were destroyed by fire. So,
one place is not necessarily a good idea."

[The article discusses the fate of the library of Alexandria.
But the Internet archives are only aggregating digital COPIES of
the original works, which are returned to the contributing
libraries. The originals continue to be dispersed around the world.

One danger though is that once scanned, some libraries may attempt
to deaccession some of their books.  While good for book collectors,
this is not such a good idea for the preservation of knowledge.
When microfilm came along and many libraries filmed their newspaper
holdings, many decided to sell the originals.  Some went to paper
mills and other sets were broken up and sold individually to collectors
by middlemen.  But the long runs of original newspapers were either
lost or scattered to the winds, and the libraries were left with
only poor microfilm copies.  Now that better electronic imaging
technology is here the originals are unavailable. -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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