Do you own an out-of-copyright genealogy or family history book? Perhaps your local library or genealogy society owns such books? If so, would you like to make the books available to everyone?
A newsletter reader sent an email message to me and described a genealogy book she had found in a collection of items inherited from a recently-deceased relative. She wanted to make the book available to a member of the family described in the book but wasn’t sure how to find an interested descendent of that family. My suggestion: Don’t give the book to just one person who might read it and then put it on the shelf, hidden from all the other descendants. Instead, give it to everyone.
You can find a number of organizations that accept book collections and digitize them. However, the majority of these organizations are set up to accept dozens, if not hundreds, of books at one time. The receipt of a single book is not practical when the scanning process is geared for accepting, cataloging, and scanning large numbers of books at once.
Archive.org is an exception.
The well-known and highly respected 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization accepts one book, hundreds of books, or even thousands of books at one time. Each book is digitized and made available online at no charge. Anyone can use Google or other search engines to find books on Archive.org and elsewhere. For instance, a Google search for “Jingleheimer Schmidt genealogy” will find online genealogy books for the Jingleheimer Schmidt family. Clicking on the link within Google will immediately transfer the user to a digital image of the book.
Archive.org adds about about 1,000 books every day in 30 different scanning centers in eight countries around the world. As a result, individuals download roughly 20 million books each month from the Archive.org web site. By contributing your book to Archive.org, you make it available to a huge audience. The book you contribute becomes permanently available for the next generation.
Perhaps the best method is for the person who has the book to scan it and upload the scanned images, if possible. Obviously, that person needs to have a scanner and some knowledge of using it. The advantage is that, once completed, the person keeps the book and can either shelve it or give it away, as he or she pleases. However, if a scanner is not available, the book can be sent to Archive.org and will be digitized and made available by that organization.
Books may be sent to:
300 Funston Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94118
Again, all this is available at no charge although Archive.org does accept donations. See https://archive.org/donate/ for details. There is no charge to the person who contributed the book and no charge to the person who searches for and finds the book in the future.
You can learn more about contributing books, music, videos, pictures and more at http://archive.org/about/faqs.php#Texts_and_Books.
You might also want to read Digitize the Planet, a wiki that describes how anyone can turn their old pamphlets and other ephemera into something that’s safe, open, and searchable by the general public. See http://digitize.archiveteam.org/index.php/Main_Page.
Finally, you can watch my interview of Brewster Kahle, the founder of Archive.org, that is available on the Archive.org web site (naturally!) at https://archive.org/details/AnInterviewWithBrewsterKahle.
In the words of the founder of Internet Archive, Brewster Kahle, “Universal access to all knowledge can be done, and I think it’s the opportunity of our generation.”