Rick Prelinger sez, "Internet Archive (disclosure: I'm a board member) has joined with 150 US and Canada libraries to develop a cooperative collection of (mostly 20th-century) eBooks that library patrons can "borrow" on a laptop, an e-reader or a library computer while visiting a participating branch. This "digital lending" dramatically expands the collections of each library, and updates the traditional library model to embrace digital titles. Many rare and one-of-a-kind titles (e.g., genealogy, family history) are included."
The reasons for joining the initiative vary from library to library. Judy Russell, Dean of University Libraries at the University of Florida, said, "We have hundreds of books that are too brittle to circulate. This digitize-and-lend system allows us to provide access to these older books without endangering the physical copy."
Digital lending also offers wider access to one-of-a-kind or rare books on specific topics such as family histories – popular with genealogists. This pooled collection will enable libraries like the Boston Public Library and the Allen County Public Library in Indiana to share their materials with genealogists around the state, the country and the world.
"Genealogists are some of our most enthusiastic users, and the Boston Public Library holds some genealogy books that exist nowhere else," said Amy E. Ryan, President of the Boston Public Library. "This lending system allows our users to search for names in these books for the first time, and allows us to efficiently lend some of these books to visitors at distant libraries."
"Reciprocal sharing of genealogy resources is crucial to family history research. The Allen County Public Library owns the largest public genealogy collection in the country, and we want to make our resources available to as many people as possible. Our partnership in this initiative offers us a chance to reach a wider audience," said Jeffrey Krull, director of the Allen County Public Library.
(Thanks, footage, via Submitterator!)