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Oxford Expands Library With 153 Miles of Shelves

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the card-catalog-of-the-gods dept.

United Kingdom 130

Oxford University's Bodleian Library has purchased a huge £26m warehouse to give a proper home to over 6 million books and 1.2 million maps. The Library has been housing the collection in a salt mine, and plans on transferring the manuscripts over the next year. "The BSF will prove a long-awaited solution to the space problem that has long challenged the Bodleian," said its head librarian Dr Sarah Thomas. "We have been running out of space since the 1970s and the situation has become increasingly desperate in the last few years." The 153 miles of new shelf space will only be enough for the next 20 years however because of the library's historic entitlement to a copy of every volume published in the UK.

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130 comments

and then they digitized it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33825692)

and then they digitized it

LOC (3, Interesting)

boristdog (133725) | more than 3 years ago | (#33825696)

How many typewritten pages or Libraries of Congresses is that?

Re:LOC (5, Insightful)

Lev13than (581686) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826142)

Wikipedia claims 21 million volumes in the LOC, so this would be roughly 0.27LOC. 6 Million volumes is not particularly large - even now it will only hold half of the current Bodleian collection.

Due to copyright (1)

chronoss2010 (1825454) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828046)

the shelves will as the picture shows remain empty for about ....150 years

Re:LOC (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 3 years ago | (#33829488)

How many typewritten pages or Libraries of Congresses is that?

The LOC has already been answered for you, but for reference an average book contains around 100,000 words. An average typewritten double-spaced page has about 250 words. So this would be about 2.4 billion typewritten pages, or 1.2 billion if you condensed the typescript by not double-spacing it. Further paper savings could be made by decreasing margins from the standard of 1" on each side (for example, I find 2cm margins on A4 give about 275 words per page).

The question is (1, Redundant)

saurongt (1639029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33825702)

How many libraries of Congress does that equal?

Re:The question is (3, Funny)

boristdog (133725) | more than 3 years ago | (#33825726)

I believe we owe each other a drink.

Re:The question is (2, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#33825890)

Don't you mean metric Libraries of Congresses? Not everyone is forced to use archaic English units like in the States. ;)

Re:The question is (2, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826246)

Doesn't work. Congress never did convert to metric.

Re:The question is (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828562)

Congress. Give them a rod, they take a furlong.

Re:The question is (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828926)

Exactly; who'd expect Oxford university, of all places, to hold on to archaic English units?

Get your units right (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826396)

Dude, get your units right. You can't express miles of shelf space in libraries of congress. The international unit of length is the football field. Not to be confused with the football field as an unit of area.

(Of course, the UK may still stick to their own imperial era units, like the length of a double-decker bus. Or the now largely obsolete cricket pitch.) ;)

Re:Get your units right (1)

geoffball (1195685) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827824)

Football field...American or European?

Re:Get your units right (4, Funny)

M8e (1008767) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828210)

Football of course, nobody even mentioned handegg.

Re:Get your units right (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828626)

Your eggs are shaped strangely in Europe. No wonder your dispositions are so foul and sports so low scoring.

Since the 70's!? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33825706)

"We have been running out of space since the 1970s and the situation has become increasingly desperate in the last few years."

I wish my problems allowed for 40 years of procrastination!

Re:Since the 70's!? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33825756)

This is Oxford, 40 years is nothing. Proficiency in Latin was still an entry requirement back then.

Re:Since the 70's!? (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826714)

If one had a stack permit, was he working in "the salt mine."

Re:Since the 70's!? (2, Interesting)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827700)

Proficiency in Latin was still an entry requirement back then.

Well, why not? Don't you people learn Latin in high-schcool any more? When I was a boy, it was compulsory.

But that was so long ago, I no longer know what the Latin is for "get off my lawn". :-)

Re:Since the 70's!? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33827976)

How about,

    Elongari a landa!

Re:Since the 70's!? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828434)

My son did. Competed in the National JCL Certamen and did quite well too.

Re:Since the 70's!? (5, Funny)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 3 years ago | (#33825958)

"We have been running out of space since the 1970s and the situation has become increasingly desperate in the last few years."

I wish my problems allowed for 40 years of procrastination!

I think those are metric years. They are different than our years.

Re:Since the 70's!? (2, Funny)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826006)

Well, they did eventually do something about the problem, as they could only shelve it for so long.

Re:Since the 70's!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33828980)

Also, in other news the earth is running out of space for insanely huge unnecessary libraries. Buy a 6Tb hard drive instead.

20 years? (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 3 years ago | (#33825736)

I can't see that thing filling up in 20 years. More and more books are being only released in digital format. In 10 years time, I'd hope that easily half of all books were digital only, and tens years past that I'd hope that nearly all books were digital. They're probably going to need to start investing in some snazzy super redundant storage servers instead.

Re:20 years? (1)

Reilaos (1544173) | more than 3 years ago | (#33825784)

More and more books? How many books that we give two shits about won't release at least SOME form of physical copy?

Re:20 years? (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827676)

People said the same thing about CDs once.

Re:20 years? (1)

Reilaos (1544173) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828460)

Yes, but artists people care about actually were and are releasing stuff in digital form.

My question, while somewhat vulgar, was an honest question: How many books that people actually care about doesn't have SOME physical copy?

I can answer that question in related to artists: Jonathan Coulton. And even HE has physical copies of his stuff!

Re:20 years? (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 3 years ago | (#33829258)

EVERY artist started releasing digital copies while ALSO releasing physical media.

Re:20 years? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33825840)

...Such as? I can't think of a single notable book that wasn't released as a dead-tree book aside from a few books made to drum up interest for things like the Nook/Kindle but I wouldn't even call them notable.

Re:20 years? (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 3 years ago | (#33825976)

They've thought of that. An entire herd of interns will be retyping each ebook on a fleet of Underwood typewriters, then hand-binding them into leather covers.

Interns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33826328)

Temps are probably cheaper. And only Americans use interns.

And even so, Oxford is a bit more up to date (anyhow, UNDERWOODS? Olivettis, more like). The temps will type into 1980s wordprocessors and printout will be via IBM Golfball.

THEN the pages will be collated and bound between leather boards between the thighs of young maidens.

Ahem!

ps - Note the use of Latin? :-)

Re:Interns? (2, Funny)

pisto_grih (1165105) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826448)

Temp implies "temporary" but they still get paid. Interns are unpaid. Where did you learn English, Cambridge?

Re:Interns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33827294)

Not all interns are unpaid. It's up to the company to decide if they pay a wage, as an incentive.

Re:Interns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33827616)

I've often wondered, how exactly can you have unpaid interns in USA? Don't you have minium wage laws or something? Can they just be ignored if you say "Oh, we'll be hiring INTERNS for this McDonalds job..."

Re:Interns? (1)

Local ID10T (790134) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827768)

I've often wondered, how exactly can you have unpaid interns in USA? Don't you have minium wage laws or something? Can they just be ignored if you say "Oh, we'll be hiring INTERNS for this McDonalds job..."

In the USA an internship is an educational experience. Much as we do not pay students to go to school, we do not pay interns. The intern is allowed a chance to experience the real world application of their area of study. If the intern is expected to contribute meaningfully to the business, then they should be paid, otherwise the company is really doing them a service.

Of course, over the years, business has corrupted the internship into an excuse to get free labor out of someone.

The relevant quote is: "In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is."

Re:Interns? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#33829134)

In Britain we have minimum wage laws as well, which means that interns have to either be paid the mimimum wage or be paid nothing at all. Incidentally, we do have interns in this country. They are sometimes called Work Experience Boys / Girls.

Actually.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33827634)

Being in the UK, the University of Oxford would have to pay the people doing grunt work the National Minimum Wage [direct.gov.uk] . I believe that organisations trying to use unpaid "interns" are being enthusiastically persued for using illegal labour. Heck! Even illegal imigrants have to be paid the national minimum wage....

Given that its going to cost them, then employing a temp typist will be cheaper in the long run than an unskilled dogsbody (the correct term for "intern" btw). And its easier to get rid of them once that particular project has run its course. After all, it'll be a temporary expedient whilst all those clever buggers break the encryption and DRM that prevent automatic transcoding of e-books into correctly paginated Open Document format files, suitable for proper printing. LaTex output will naturally also be part of the output stream.

Back to this "intern" thing. What the feck IS an "intern"?

I thought it was a medical dogsbody, like a "House Officer". Sounds like some down-on-their-luck Arts graduates have been pimping their CVs again.....

 

Re:20 years? (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827194)

If they'd just hire a herd of monkeys instead, given enough time they could retype all books written and all books not yet written as well.

Fewer typos and txt spch than interns, too.

Quick fillup (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827690)

cat /dev/random >Bodleian

Re:20 years? (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828596)

In 10 years time, I'd hope that easily half of all books were digital only,

...and unless we have a Sudden Outbreak of Common Sense, 10 years later they'll all be unreadable because the DRM-encumbered file format they were stored in is no longer supported.

I don't think physical books will disappear completely in that time frame - they're too iconic - but the typical print run might be "one for Me, one for Mum and Dad, one for each legal deposit library and a couple of spares - everybody else can download". Modern print-on-demand technology makes that feasible.

In any case, with all the political drives to increase access to higher education, by 2030 every person who works behind a bar will require a PhD in Beverage Logistics and they'll need space to store all the theses...

Re:20 years? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#33829014)

1899: "We just invented a big carriage that can be hooked up to 50 horses! We're gonna be rich rich rich, and even get our loaned house back!"
   

Digital (1)

jlechem (613317) | more than 3 years ago | (#33825816)

I don't see why they don't scan them into digital format using pdfs, or text files. Keeping a physical copy of all the books they want to is going to become a very overwhelming task. Not to mention if it was digital, the content could be indexed and searched much faster by more people.

They're keeping books not data (5, Interesting)

fantomas (94850) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826220)

One of the things the British Library is interested in is keeping books, not data. Books are valuable not only for the content but also may be of interest to future generations because of their typography, layout, binding, other aspects of their physical construction. Also it takes a lot more time and money to scan a book rather than putting it on a bookshelf.

Re:They're keeping books not data (1)

cmiller173 (641510) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826416)

Don't overlook inventory carrying costs. There are costs associated with maintaining the environment the books are stored in. Heating in the winter, air conditioning in the summer, humidity control, maintaining/repairing the structure, etc.

Of course you have the same with digital media, periodically copying to newer media etc. If they had digitized in the 70's a lot of this would be on 8" floppy disks and huge disc packs. Forty years from now they might not be able to find a SD card reader or SATA controller.

Re:They're keeping books not data (2, Interesting)

anUnhandledException (1900222) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826860)

It is true that digital archives need to be refreshed to current media however the issue is overblown.

There was roughly 10 years of overlap between 8" and 5.25" discs.
There was about 15 years of overlap between 5.25" and 3.5" discs, and nearly 26 years overlap between 3.5" and optical formats (3.5" was available in 1982 and Sony stopped making media in 2008).

CD and DVD can still be read in current BD drives so that window so conversion is still open.

Likewise CF debuted in 1994 and is still readable today.

The media issue is something archivers need to be aware of however it is generally overblown. The windows where older & newer formats overlap are very large and allows archivers to make decisions to only support the most "mainstream media".

For example data on an 8" disc in 1970 could have been converted to 3.5" disc in mid 80s and then to CD-ROM in mid 90s and still be readable today.

It is sad that Oxford doesn't make a digital archive. Once digitized the data can be easily stored in multiple locations, protected by redundant copies and never subject to the ravages of time, air, and the elements.

Re:They're keeping books not data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33828182)

Honestly, I can't see why they can't do both. Keep the physical book, but digitize it before putting it on the shelf. *BAM*, you have the actual book archived, and a digital backup just in case.

Re:They're keeping books not data (1)

anUnhandledException (1900222) | more than 3 years ago | (#33829166)

They will start doing that the first time a major archive w/ 10,000 out of print books burned up in a fire.

Cost (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 3 years ago | (#33829344)

It costs a lot of money and a lot of time to digitise a lot of books. That's why.

They are getting 3 miles of books every year. Yup, they can use the mile as their unit of measurement because the numbers are that great. I think it's something like 250,000 books a year. We're in the middle of a recession and huge economic cuts in the UK, the public sector is being asked to make cuts right now rather than expand operations.

Re:They're keeping books not data (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827006)

they where storing the books in a salt mine.. that pretty much ensures zero humidity and constant temp across seasons.

just people don't like going to salt mines to read.

Re:Digital (1)

Mouldy (1322581) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826244)

Yeah. Lets spend years scanning everything and save it as a PDF/Word/Whatever file that probably won't be readable a few versions down the line. While we're at it, lets store it on Tape/CD/DVD/BluRay/HDD that also won't be readable in years to come. I think just getting a bigger book case is probably the best option as far as long term storage goes.

Re:Digital (1)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826576)

With digital storage, they could fit their entire collection in a single room, and they save things in a totally generic format such as numbered jpgs or even raw bmps. Think raid arrays, and perhaps synced copies at multiple sites in the country. The costs would be negligible compared to physical storage and preservation, and all that money could be put to better use -- like digitising the books and recordings that time hasn't been so kind to.

The real cost is scanning (and particularly getting permission from the copyright holders to scan), and that could be avoided if publishers were legally required to submit digital copies of the books from the start. Today pretty much all books are typeset on computers, so digital versions already exist -- why are the laws still so far behind the times?? Oh, wait we're talking about copyright laws, so nvm.

Re:Digital (1)

snookerhog (1835110) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826658)

if you look at the pic in TFA it looks like it is just a single room, albeit a very big one.

Re:Digital (1)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826792)

The Bodleian library consists of a complex of several buildings (I should know, I studied in Oxford). Some of the library scenes in the Harry Potter movies were actually shot in the older buildings of the Bodleian..

Re:Digital -- failure (4, Insightful)

Markvs (17298) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826342)

Because technology is fleeting, but paper remains (at least for a few hundred years).
Consider that the best backup tapes from ten years ago are generally unreadable in most organizations. Nevermind things like Bernoulis, ZIP discs, CDs, 8mm tapes -- it all goes in the junkpile. There is simply no permanent technological solution available at any price. We have a hard time today reading the old NASA tapes from Apollo (and we saved some of that equipment!) Imagine what happens in 2110 when someone wants to find something?
Heck, even the "Digital Doomsday book" lasted only 15 years instead of 1000! http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2002/mar/03/research.elearning [guardian.co.uk]

And constantly re-scanning everything in existance every 10 years is not an option. :-(

Re:Digital -- failure (3, Insightful)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826598)

And constantly re-scanning everything in existance every 10 years is not an option. :-(
Probablly the best option at the moment is to keep the data live on servers. As servers become unreliable or uneconomical they get replaced with new ones that store more for a given cost and size. Hard drives are now big enough that this form shouldn't be cost prohibitive. If we assume a megabyte per page (which is way more than needed for most documents) and 1000 pages per book then that is still a couple of thousand books on a modern hard drive!

Formats becoming obsolete is a possible concern but pdf, png, jpeg etc have all been with us for over a decade and have multiple implementations in both closed and open source software so I don't see the ability to read them going away any time soon and if support does start to decline it should be a gradual process with plenty of warning to get the data converted.

Heck, even the "Digital Doomsday book" lasted only 15 years instead of 1000! http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2002/mar/03/research.elearning [guardian.co.uk] [guardian.co.uk]

That is partly because it was a construction before it's time and as such relied on some pretty specialised equipment. It was also an interactive system which is always more complex to handle than noninteractive stuff in standard formats.

Had it just relied on a BBC micro i'm sure the roms sites would have kept copies and got it running in emulators no problem. The real problem was the special laserdisk player that the system relied on.

Re:Digital -- failure (3, Insightful)

JohnPombrio (1612147) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827486)

Geez folks, Google is your friend. Check out "Digital Preservation, Planets" to find out that all the major libraries ARE digitizing everything they possibly can. They are also qualifying and choosing digital formats that CAN stand the test of time. If the formats change, the Planets committees will adapt and redo the work. This is not just "they should" but "they are." There is nothing special about paper, it's just was was available at the time. Digital is the next logical progressive step in passing knowledge, reporting the news and reading entertainment. The only thing it has against it right now is that it really only about 20 year old technology. Give it another 100 years, and digital storage will be just as accepted as paper ever was. Paper's time has come and gone. "it's the message, not the media, that is important".

Re:Digital -- failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33828118)

Probablly the best option at the moment is to keep the data live on servers. As servers become unreliable or uneconomical they get replaced with new ones that store more for a given cost and size. Hard drives are now big enough that this form shouldn't be cost prohibitive. If we assume a megabyte per page (which is way more than needed for most documents) and 1000 pages per book then that is still a couple of thousand books on a modern hard drive!

But it takes power to run those, and then you need worry about HVAC breaking if you want to keep things cool.

Disk is great, but if you want to simply archive stuff I'd go with tape, with 2-3 clones of the image on different media. This way even if 1-2 go bad, you're still good, and you're not using any energy with the tape just sitting in the slot. Disk would be reserved as a cache for recent/often used stuff.

As new tape technology is developed, it's fairly easy (at least with modern backup software) to tell the system to clone stuff from one pool (e.g., LTO-3) to another pool (e.g. LTO-5). This way you're always moving your data forward to a fairly recent technology.

You'd also want to automate verifying the media on a regular basis. ZFS (and btrfs?) can do this well for disks, and similar things can be done with tape.

Re:Digital -- failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33828200)

Probablly the best option at the moment is to keep the data live on servers. As servers become unreliable or uneconomical they get replaced with new ones that store more for a given cost and size.

No, that's actually a worse option than piling books in a salt mine.

I know, because I've done both.

I spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours helping volunteers manually correct the bit-rot in a collection a tiny fraction of this size. How did we do it? We had them open up the old, literally falling apart books and use them to correct the corrupt data in the collections. How did we find which stuff needed correcting? I used grep. Yeah, grep and a bit of scripting around it. So I probably only found a tenth of the corruption.

Every tool, every software product at our disposal for checking data integrity told us those files were 100% intact and had never ever gotten overwritten or modified. Yet, humans could show printouts from 15 years previously that showed different text than the current data. The collection's about 250 years old.

In real life, bit-rot is the manifestation of errors made by humans who then covered up their errors without remediating the effects of those same errors. You can't avoid human mendaciousness.

Re:Digital -- failure (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826636)

The archivists finally did manage to decode the Digital Domesday [bbc.co.uk] , nine months after your article was written. Still, not every "digital" book is historically significant enough to merit this sort of rescue effort.

Digital media fails, not digital itself (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826780)

Because technology is fleeting, but paper remains (at least for a few hundred years) ... We have a hard time today reading the old NASA tapes ... And constantly re-scanning everything in existance every 10 years is not an option.

Paper is vulnerable to fire, water, mold, etc. Newer paper contains acids resulting in far shorter lifespans than "ancient" paper.

NASA made the mistake of not copying the analog tapes to any digital media. IIRC they even intentionally destroyed some tapes by reusing them.

Scanning is a one time event. Once you have a digital copy it is trivial to copy, backup or move to another media or newer device.

While any particular digital media/device may be temporary in nature the Oxford data would most likely be stored in more than one location. Each location independently backing up the data, independently upgrading storage media periodically, ...

Re:Digital media fails, not digital itself (1)

rlseaman (1420667) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827732)

Read "Double Fold" by Nicholson Baker: http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/b/baker-fold.html [nytimes.com] Digitization need not be destructive, but often has been. Digital records fill a different need than physical records and the quixotic pursuit of permanency benefits from retaining both in diverse formats and at numerous locations.

Re:Digital media fails, not digital itself (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828388)

Not all newer paper is so constructed. Quality modern archival paper is likely to be good for a millennium or more.

Re:Digital -- failure (1)

anUnhandledException (1900222) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826934)

Why would you rescan?

Scan and store in multiple open formats archived across multiple redundant servers (each contains multiple redundant discs).

Yeah there are technological dead-ends by staying to general purpose hardware, converting data to current formats periodically (like once every other decade) there is no reason a digital archive can't be readable forever.

There is significant cost to physical storage. Temperature & Humidity control isn't cheap and neither are fire prevention & security systems. In 100 years people will look back at how stupid it was to store things in fragile paper which degrades even under optimal conditions.

Re:Digital -- failure (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827166)

Because technology is fleeting, but paper remains (at least for a few hundred years).

Indeed, the British Library had it's original copy of the Magna Carta on display last year, that was written in 1215 and was still readable*; admittedly it was velum and not paper but the principle is the same.

*it wasn't understandable, modern english but the individual characters were readable even if I didn't understand it.

Re:Digital -- failure (1)

Demonantis (1340557) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827670)

The really trouble isn't technology it is level of comfort. Computers can go tits up for reasons that you don't readily understand or comprehend. When a physical book is destroyed there are indicators or a clear reason for it to occur. This makes people feel they have more control and perceived safety in storing the books in hard copy.

Re:Digital (3, Insightful)

cheesewire (876598) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826498)

Keeping a physical copy of all the books they want to is going to become a very overwhelming task

Given their hundreds of years of experience with an ever-growing collection, I'm confident they know what they're getting themselves into. Consider that their historical entitlement to receive a copy of each book published in the UK dates back to the early 1600s [ox.ac.uk] .

The library website implies that they do have digital resources. As for replacing physical with digital, consider that keeping a physical copy of each book is not only nice for continuing the historic archive, but also negates the technical unknowns of maintaining a massive archive of scans for (what I'm sure they hope will be) hundreds more years into the future. Who knows what the digital landscape will look like in hundreds of years...

So 20 years to go digital (1)

kieran (20691) | more than 3 years ago | (#33825856)

Sounds like a fairly generous timeframe.

How much (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826010)

How much of that space is filled with Harry Potter? Do they get a copy of every revision of every version, including the foreign language versions? That has to be several Rain Forests worth, or at least one Library of Congress.

Re:How much (1)

cmiller173 (641510) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826480)

I suspect the foreign language versions are not actually published in the UK but rather published under license by a publisher in the country where that language is spoken. As far as harry potter, IIRC the whole set takes up about a foot of shelf space on my daughters bookcase.

Re:How much (1)

Megahard (1053072) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826508)

All versions of the Harry Potter books are stored in the Room of Requirement.

Re:How much (2, Insightful)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826720)

I expect the Bodlein library has a retention policy not unlike the the Library of Congress's. They're entitled to receive copies, but not every copy is kept.

In soviet russia ... (5, Funny)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826094)

The Library has been housing the collection in a salt mine

they sent their poets to the salt mines, ... in the UK we sent their poetry there instead!

I have read some of the modern poets, a salt mine seems like the best destination for much of what they produced ....

Re:In soviet russia ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33826558)

Do yourself a favor: pick up Christopher Logue's translations from the Iliad ("War Music" & "All Day Permanent Red").

Re:In soviet russia ... (1)

Zephyr14z (907494) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827256)

I know you're being funny, but do you mean modern or contemporary? An important distinction.

Easy (3, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826132)

They were helped when the LHC testing at CERN caused a subspace distortion rift into the Unseen University's library on Discworld, so there's more space in that wing than is actually there. It's... quantum. It's actually 153 *thousand* miles of shelf space, so lots of room, but it smells like bananas all the time for some reason.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33826608)

Inevitably an uncontrollable fire will break out and wipe out the entire collection, it's just a matter of time.

They should start donating their collection to other libraries around the world, maybe on a loan basis so that each year or two the books can move around the world and more people can get to read them.

You don't want to end up like the Library of Alexandria, what a loss.

Re:Don't put all your eggs in one basket.... (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826990)

I rather hope (and suspect) they've got better fire suppression systems than the Library of Alexandria.

Re:Don't put all your eggs in one basket.... (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#33829374)

There are also copies at the British Library, the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales and the university libraries of Cambridge and Dublin, so if one set is lost, we still have the others.

Re:Don't put all your eggs in one basket.... (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827046)

Nevermind the overhead costs of transporting that many items, coordinating the transports, and ensuring that the materials stay in controlled environments the whole time. Also conveniently ignore the facts that librarians have learned a thing or two about preservation in the past two thousand years, and that engineers have produced better fire-control systems, and that there's more to storage than just lots of shelf space.

Ignore the past thousand years of progress, and this is indeed a serious risk. Otherwise, it's no more a risk than any other storage system.

Re:Don't put all your eggs in one basket.... (2, Informative)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827324)

Inevitably an uncontrollable fire will break out and wipe out the entire collection, it's just a matter of time.

They should start donating their collection to other libraries around the world, maybe on a loan basis so that each year or two the books can move around the world and more people can get to read them.

You don't want to end up like the Library of Alexandria, what a loss.

Both the British Library and Cambridge University library have similar collections*, if a fire was to break out the only things that would be truly lost would be rare ancient items unique to the Bodlean which will have already been extensively studied, copied and transcribed - just the one-off item would be lost, and there's not much that can be done about that until we invent replicators.

*Like the Bodlean they also receive copies of every book published.

I call dibs... (1)

snookerhog (1835110) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826624)

on the now abandoned salt mine.

Entitlement (1)

locallyunscene (1000523) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826660)

because of the library's historic entitlement to a copy of every volume published in the UK.

Is that everything published, even foreign works published in the UK or just things that originated in the U.K.

If so, why does that sound so small?

Re:Entitlement (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#33829394)

Just things that originate in the UK and in the Republic of Ireland.

There is Nothing More Useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33826702)

than a book on a shelf.

Re:There is Nothing More Useless (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827934)

Hows about a mind that's completely closed??

How safe is that? (1)

non-registered (639880) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826834)

Salt mines don't burn.

You need a good scanner (1)

Calsar (1166209) | more than 3 years ago | (#33826894)

A good scanner would solve all your problems. Digitize everything and recycle the paper. All that paper is useless if no one has access to it. How often do people actually go down into the salt mine to retrieve a book?

Re:You need a good scanner (4, Insightful)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827388)

A good scanner would solve all your problems. Digitize everything and recycle the paper. All that paper is useless if no one has access to it. How often do people actually go down into the salt mine to retrieve a book?

The British Library has a copy of the Magna carta from 1215, I saw it on display last year & it was perfectly readable being written on velum. OTOH digitisation has given me a box full of useless floppy disks that I can't read due to the fact that my computer no longer has a floppy drive; there's no point getting a USB floppy as the data on these disks is meant for my dads old Atati ST. I'll stick with the technology that's proven to last a thousand years rather than the one that has failed to last even 30.

Re:You need a good scanner (2, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827832)

rather than the one that has failed to last even 30.

The Magna Carta didn't survive because it was left out in somebody's barn for 800 years. Take care of your stuff over the generations and it'll last.

Computer generations are faster, but I think the bigger problem is that we've been able to keep more stuff than we could store until just about now. I'm putting together a little 5x1.5TB ZFS box for home, and I don't think I have the data to fill it. That's a first. But I guess it's like having 153 miles of shelving. Come to think of it, I've got Rubbermaid totes out in the shed with books I don't have shelfspace for...

Re:You need a good scanner (1)

Luke has no name (1423139) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828770)

Paper in a mine doesn't need a farad cage to exist after the Goldeneye hits.

Mo' shelves, mo' problems (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827094)

Oxford Expands Library with 153 miles of shelves, adds 100 janitorial staff and 200 air filtration systems just to dust them off.
Alternatively, 246.229632 kilometers of shelves were added (for those who will only officially recognize the metric system.)

Re:Mo' shelves, mo' problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33827370)

Interesting job. I wonder the pay and qualification for a book duster. And also wear and tear on the books. Would the dust add something like a protective cover to the books or does the dust damage them?

I'm the Doctor (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827108)

And you're in the biggest library in the Universe! Look me up!

Doctor: disambiguation (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828654)

And you're in the biggest library in the Universe! Look me up!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor [wikipedia.org]

Docter redirects here. For the director/animator, see Pete Docter.

Re:Doctor: disambiguation (1)

Nirvelli (851945) | more than 3 years ago | (#33829214)

Fictional characters

Books rule! (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827446)

Ever try to prop a door open with a DVD?

Remember Alexandria? (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827682)

That salt mine might be a safer place than a surface building to house such a wonderful trove of books. I would be happier if they made digital copies and brought the copies to the surface for students and the public to use. The fire that wiped out the ancient great library at Alexandria should be instructive to us in this modern era. So much was lost. It must not happen again.

Q: Whaddya call a library in 2020? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#33829064)

A: book museum

That should be just enough room (1)

ToSeek (529348) | more than 3 years ago | (#33829232)

for my wife's and my book collection, which currently takes up space in every room of our house.
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