One million pages - German National Library digitising works with risk of disintegration
Acid corrosion and brittle paper: the stocks of the German National Library are by no means immune to the ravages of time. Preservation therefore represents a major task. The German National Library has now started to digitise books which are especially at risk.
The most effective method for treating acidic paper is mass deacidification - a process which the library has been deploying for more than 15 years now. However, mechanical preservation methods are no longer effective for books in which the paper is too brittle or the book block is severely damaged. In an attempt to avoid accelerating their disintegration, these publications are no longer being issued to users. The German National Library is archiving the digital copies and making them available for use in the reading rooms. Even in the case of severely damaged books, this allows the library to fulfil its legal mandate to collect all publications, to archive them permanently and to provide access to them.
400,000 pages have already been digitalised, and over one million pages will have been processed by the end of the project. During the course of the project the library has also gained a wealth of experience in the field of digitisation. This means that the current project can then serve as the starting point for further digitisation projects to ensure that sensitive originals are given the protection they require. Digital access is provided to the works taking copyright requirements into account; access via the Internet is only granted for publications which are already in the public domain.