The following Plus Edition article is written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
What does a library look like anymore?
When Egyptian King Ptolemy I built the Library of Alexandria nearly 2,300 years ago, the great library became the intellectual center of the ancient world. Ptolemy hoped to gather as much human knowledge as possible. Even ships anchored in the port were impounded until all the manuscripts they contained could be copied. World leaders lent their scrolls for duplication, and library officials traveled far and wide to purchase entire collections. Meanwhile, dutiful scribes hand-copied the library’s awesome collection, which eventually grew to as many as 700,000 scrolls.
NOTE: Books with bindings and covers had not yet been invented. 2,300 years ago, “books” were available only as long scrolls of parchment.
Brewster Kahle is a modern-day Ptolemy: he wants to ensure universal access to all human knowledge. And now he thinks that goal is within our grasp. In fact, his web site has already stored 380 billion web pages. Yes, that’s BILLIONS of web pages. However, this online archive has a lot more than just web pages. It serves as an online library, the largest such library in the world. It also has 20 million books and texts, 4.5 million audio recordings (including 180,000 live concerts), 4 million videos (including 1.6 million Television News programs), 3 million images and 200,000 software programs, all available at no charge to you. As of the day I wrote this article, the web site has 7,295,193 users. In fact, this online library gets more visitors in a year than most other libraries do in a lifetime.
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