[Vabs] Internet Archive Launches Library for the Visually Impaired With 1M Books

Corbb O'Connor corbbo at gmail.com
Sat May 8 01:59:23 UTC 2010

Please distribute as appropriate.


Internet Archive today launched a new service that will provide more  
than a million books in a specially designed format that can be read  
by visually impaired readers. The new service is part of the the non- 
profit’s Open Library project, which has been scanning and digitizing  
hundreds of thousands of books for the past several years and now has  
more than a million in its index. Internet Archive founder Brewster  
Kahle, who funds some of the Archive’s costs through his charitable  
foundation, said the new service more than doubles the number of books  
previously available to visually impaired readers.

“Every person deserves the opportunity to enhance their lives through  
access to the books that teach, entertain and inspire,” Kahle said in  
a statement. “Bringing access to huge libraries of books to the blind  
and print disabled is truly one of benefits of the digital  
revolution.” The Archive founder — who also founded Alexa.com and  
later sold it to Amazon — said the project is also asking individuals  
to donate books to add to the digital library, the first 10,000 of  
which the project will fund the digitization of (the rest will be  
financed by donations from foundations, companies and government).

The books being offered as part of the project are scanned by Archive  
volunteers and employees in 20 locations across the U.S. (and in  
several other countries), including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New  
York and the Library of Congress. The books are then digitized using a  
special format called DAISY, which can be used by the visually  
impaired or downloaded to devices that read the text aloud. Some books  
have come from other digitization projects, while scanned books come  
from the collections of more than 150 libraries that belong to the  
Open Content Alliance, which is also affiliated with the Internet  

The Open Library, which was originally launched in 2007 and whose  
motto is “A web page for every book,” just got a new design and  
features, including improved search. Google also has a book-scanning  
and digitization project called Google Books, which the  company  
claims has more than 10 million books in digital format. Kahle has  
been building the Internet Archive and the Open Library since the late  
1990s, with a vision of providing millions of digital books for free.  
A video of his talk at the TED conference in 2007 is embedded below.

(Video on website.)

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