Saturday, July 25, 2009

Rare books

One of the frustrations of genealogy on the net, is how often the things I would like to see are obscured from view, even when out of copyright. Libraries with books published in the early 19th or even 18th century, still obscuring their content on Google books, Oxford journal's "notes and queries" from other centuries... things which can't possibly be in copyright, still kept away from ordinary researchers unless they pay access fees.

Some of these things can be found on the Internet Archive... and now there is a new place to look, in the rare book room. Scholars who want to look at various printings of Shakespeare folios, people who have an interest in history and want to see what was published by a scientist in his lifetime... there's all sorts of fascinating material from libraries all over the world.

This is my vision of the future, with free access to art, history, books and literature, freely available to all on the internet. Until we have complete intellectual freedom, how do we know what we could become? How far could I go with my genealogy if everything was free?

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