National Chess Library closure

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Brian Towers
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Brian Towers » Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:48 pm

Ian Kingston wrote:Apart from the copyright issue, there is also the practical problem that in order to get the pages to lie flat on a typical scanner most books have to be dismantled. Otherwise you ended up with a distorted or illegible inside margin for each page. This may not be a problem for books where there are duplicates (so that one can be sacrificed), but for single copies of old or valuable books it may not be an acceptable solution.
No longer true.

Something like 15 years ago Google came up with their Google Books Project (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Books) with the intention of scanning all the books in the world. The problem you describe was obviously one they had to solve as this article describes - http://computer.howstuffworks.com/google-books1.htm

Perhaps the ECF should forward a list of their oldest and rarest books to Google who might very well do the job for free as part of their project?
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Brian Towers
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Brian Towers » Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:59 pm

Perhaps I should add that since Oxford's Bodleian Library was one of the initial partners anything in the Bodleian is likely to already have been scanned. Although the British Library wasn't an initial partner it became one later - https://www.cnet.com/news/google-to-sca ... ary-books/ - with books published between 1700 and 1870 targeted for scanning.
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Ian Kingston
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Ian Kingston » Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:13 pm

Brian Towers wrote: No longer true.
Yes, I'm well aware of what Google can do. I was working on the assumption that the ECF wouldn't have quite the same capabilities as a multi-billion dollar corporation.

Paul Cooksey
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:28 pm

I have to admit the library does not excite me very much. But just for consistency which the position I always take, I feel the ECF should use its strategy document to decide what to do, or update the strategy document if this is a gap. I think it probably is a gap.

This statement: "Work with other mind sport organisations to raise the visibility and status of chess in the eyes of HM Government." is maybe a bit too low level to be a goal, and a more general goal about the maintaining and enhancing chess culture in England could be drafted which would then allow a sub-goal to include the library.

If that was the strategy, I think Tim Harding stated the right approach. I'd want the ECF to retain only those items that existing reputable bodies - the British library etc - do not already have, and are not willing to take. Any book available to researchers elsewhere I'd want to dispose of, not just duplicates.

I suppose an alternate strategy would be to develop a library at the office, or a virtual library, as a member service. But that does not seem justified to me. The level of interest seems low, and the cost prohibitively high.

I'd start to dispose of anything without historic value now. I see no point waiting for a full catalogue exercise to get rid of items the ECF knows it does not need to retain.

Tim Harding
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Re: National Chess Library closure

Post by Tim Harding » Mon Mar 27, 2017 10:22 am

Ian Kingston wrote:
Brian Towers wrote: No longer true.
Yes, I'm well aware of what Google can do. I was working on the assumption that the ECF wouldn't have quite the same capabilities as a multi-billion dollar corporation.
Google used to have a motto "Don't be evil."

No longer true either.

When they started this scanning enterprise a few years ago, complex legal agreements were offered to authors but in practice non-US authors could not do anything about preventing Google from scanning their out-of-print books and putting up large chunks online for free.

Also many of the chess book PDFs they made available online in the early years are no longer there, because they did deals with reprint houses who now try to flog you hard copy reprints and the free PDFs mostly got removed. There is only a fraction available now of what I collected 3-4 years ago.

And some titles that were available to people with American IP addresses were never made available here - or at least they did not turn up in searches done from Ireland, though I got some when a Canadian friend sent me the URLs.

So I would definitely NOT recommend ECF to deal with Google.
Tim Harding
Historian and Kibitzer

Author of 'Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography' and 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players'
http://www.chessmail.com

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