Canned Libraries Open New Vistas To Readers (Aug, 1936)

Canned Libraries Open New Vistas To Readers

ALL of the reading material in the vast Library of Congress may be housed in a few small filing cabinets! To anyone who has seen the thousands of massive volumes in this great building, such a statement seems fantastic. But it remains a fact. Through recent developments in microphotography and the perfection of a new type of micro-grain film, the contents of two 10×15 inch pages can be reduced 400 times to occupy but three-fourths of a square inch of film.

Each volume so reduced in size is housed in a sealed cartridge not much larger than a 12-gauge shotgun shell. When desired for reading, it is inserted in a small cabinet, the light turned on, and the copy is projected upon a screen, enlarged to comfortable reading size and unaccompanied by glare.

Verneur Pratt, president of the International Filmbook Corporation, pioneers in the field of library microphotography, predicts that the filmbook will effect as. big a change in the printing industry as the invention of movable type.

He points out that large telephone directories can be held in the palm of the hand, can be inserted in the machine in a moment, and with a few turns of a dial the desired number is brought to light. There is no thumbing of pages, and the pages cannot be torn out. In the same manner bulky catalogs, city directories, and dictionaries can be reduced.

One of the greatest advantages of film books is that small schools and libraries with limited space and money can afford to have all the material which is now available only in the large cities. Files of perishable newspapers can be photographed and thus preserved indefinitely. The cost of making film books will be much below that of printing regular books and their small size also eliminates the storage problem.

The mechanics of the books are simple. The cartridge is inserted in the machine, and dials are turned instead of pages. It is foolproof, and a child can operate it.

  1. Toronto says: December 2, 200811:11 am

    It’s interesting that they use the phrase “a sealed cartridge not much larger than a 12-gauge shotgun shell” rather than “a 35mm film canister. I guess more people were shooting pellets than Kodacolor in 1936.

  2. Book Calendar says: December 2, 20083:30 pm

    What a lark. It fits with most of the fantasies of this type of magazine. If it all came true we would be flying around mars in spacesuits powered by jetpacks by now.

  3. jayessell says: December 2, 20084:43 pm

    I have ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in my Palm Pilot.
    It’s nice to have eBooks in your pocket, but what if there was a
    catastrophe so bad no one could read electronic media?

  4. Doug says: December 2, 20089:07 pm

    A friend of ours developed cameras and readers that allowed them to put 1200 pages of the Bible on a card one inch by one inch square. It was called Ultra-microfiche, but it never went very far. Evidently micro-fiche was small enough.

  5. Seo says: December 3, 200812:17 pm

    The big advantage of micro-fiche is the long durability of over 400 years and that you can read it with a lens and a source of light. That is why most archives convert their texts and other materials to electronic data and micro-fiche at the same time. Bits and Bytes for short time conservation and as a working copy and micro-fiche for the next dark age.

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