“As a publisher, when you run out of copies of a book you can basically either reprint it and keep selling it, or you can retire the title, declaring it out of print,” said Greg Albers, Digital Publications Manager for Getty Publications, in an email interview with Hyperallergic. “If it doesn’t make financial sense to reprint and the book goes out of print, the original author or another publisher may choose to pick up the reins and publish a new edition, but more often than not, the book will just sort of disappear. This isn’t a fate anyone wants to see for their books and luckily at the Getty, a decidedly mission-driven organization, we were able to pursue an alternate option. We worked though some legal/copyright issues and released PDFs of the original books, for anyone to read and download, 100% for free.”
At its inception, the library offered just over 250 books — some of which, Albers is quick to mention, are still available for purchase through the Getty store and other retailers. It has since grown to 311 titles.
“That 311 represents a significant chunk of our list,” said Albers, “more than a quarter of the books we’ve ever published. And we’re going to continue adding titles moving forward.”
The virtual catalog includes books across the scope of the Getty’s interests, roughly divided into titles relating to the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Research Institute. Some publications focus on specific artists, others on decorative arts or historical periods, and others on topics as diffuse as Roman gardens, the far Eastern lacquerware tradition of urushi, and the effects of light on materials in collections. Most of the books are in English, but the library also contains some translated volumes in Spanish, French, Japanese, and a few other languages. Albers reported that since the 2014 launch, the Virtual Library has had 398,058 unique downloads of its PDFs.
“Digital or not, that’s a lot of books out in the world!” said Albers. “And I can only presume, in a lot of hands, and in a lot of places around the world that may not have had access to them otherwise.”
Albers characterizes the Virtual Library as not only a way of sharing older books in the collection, but building a model for future work in digital publishing, that releases books in multiple formats for free from the beginning, under Creative Commons licenses. The first of these offerings are already available online, with two more to come in the next few months, and “many more in the pipeline.”
The Getty is not the only institution with an eye on virtual publishing of their catalog. Albers calls out the Met as the first to make this move, now offering 576 books for free download, and the Guggenheim has some 200 books hosted on the Internet Archive. While die-hard bibliophiles know there’s nothing like the real thing, lovers of information and environmental conservation can appreciate the tremendous wealth being offered by these institutions and others.
Al-Hadid’s new mosaic features the famed clock that hung at the entrance of the original station until the building was demolished in the 1960s.
The excavation project also yielded Old Kingdom-era amulets, stoneware, and daily-use tools.
Join the New-York Historical Society on February 10 for a virtual conversation about our changing relationship to the natural world with Julie Decker, John Grade, and LaMont Hamilton.
The steel spike clad in gold and silver commemorated the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869.
Thanks to a $3.3 million grant from the state’s Creative Corps, artists can now apply to bring the project to their neighborhood.
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very Los Angeles art events this month, including Alicia Piller, Brad Phillips, Mulyana, the MexiCali Biennial, and more.
Her solo exhibition at the Los Angeles institution demonstrates how natural light can turn an overlooked, everyday setting into a sublime landscape.
Presented by Northwestern’s Block Museum and McCormick School of Engineering, this new exhibition seeks empathy at the boundaries of life. On view in Evanston, Illinois.
Nicola López and Paula Wilson’s exhibition Becoming Land considers anthropocentric relationships with New Mexico’s desert landscapes.
A festival dedicated to Davinci’s The King Show celebrates the LA artist’s trippy remixing of stock footage, Hollywood cinema, and theater.
Located in Des Moines, Iowa, this residency for emerging and established artists includes studio and living space, a $1,000 monthly stipend, and more.
20th Century Indian Art: Modern, Post-Independence, Contemporary surveys the many distinct aspects of art in South Asia.
Moving too fast on your commute, looking out of the corner of your eye one second too late, and you might miss HOTTEA’s yarn installations.