Rare and out-of-print books from both Cornell University Library and Emory University are getting new life through print-on-demand services. In June 2006, Cornell University Library announced its new program to digitize, and make available for print, books from its collections through a partnership with BookSurge (a subsidiary of Amazon.com). And just recently the library released the news that in the next six months the materials available for print will jump from 3,500 to 6,000 titles.
Likewise, Emory University just announced this last month that it has joined up with another print-on-demand group, Kirtas Technologies, Inc., and their collections will be available this Fall. Emory hasn’t listed a definite number of materials that will be included, but simply states that thousands of books will be offered (but limited to those in the public domain). Since the university is home to more than 200,000 out-of-print books published before 1923, and therefore in the public domain, they have quite a pool to draw from.
These print-on-demand services not only preserve rare and out-of-print books by digitizing them, but also allow for libraries to make their collections more accessible to researchers who can view the books online, or order print copies. They also provide libraries with some extra income, with no inventory to keep. Time will only tell how popular these services are, and how many libraries decide to join in.