May 21 , 2008

Library partners with industry to unleash thousands of rare books to the world


Hamilton, ON – Imagine owning a copy of Galileo’s 1632 Dialogo di Galileo Galilei (Galileo’s Dialogue), a work so controversial he was convicted of heresy in 1633 and the book was placed on the Index of Forbidden Books.

Or perhaps a first-edition, autographed copy of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine is a more suitable choice for your personal library?

These books and more will be made available to the public, beginning this fall, through a unique partnership between McMaster University Library and U.S.-based companies Kirtas Technologies, Inc. and

With the support of Kirtas’ Canadian reseller Ristech, McMaster University will be using the Kirtas APT BookScan 2400RA to digitize rare, out-of-print books.  Once the books are digitized and processed, McMaster faculty, students and staff will have free access to digital copies of the entire collection of scanned materials.  The world will be able to access McMaster’s unique collections online, and even purchase as print-on-demand books from

“We have significant collections that we would like to make more widely accessible through digitization,” said Jeffrey Trzeciak, University Librarian. “The digitization technology provided by Kirtas, the support and service we receive from Ristech, and the ability of Lulu to pull it all together increases both the electronic availability and the availability of the books in print for those who choose print on demand.”

As the publisher of these unique books, the Library also hopes to generate revenue through the print-on-demand service.

“We see more and more universities taking advantage of the print-on-demand option that is enabled through the digitization process,” said Kirtas founder and CEO Lotfi Belkhir. “Not only are these institutions sharing their unique collections, but they are also creating a revenue stream that allows them to reinvest in their access and preservation efforts.”

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our customers to obtain books that may not be easy to find,” said CEO and founder Bob Young. “In addition to being a place to publish, Lulu is a vast marketplace where anyone can buy books on just about any subject.” A native of Hamilton, the affiliation puts Young in familiar territory.

McMaster University Library will be hosting a launch event celebrating their entry into mass digitization and publishing on Monday, May 26th at 9:30 a.m.  The event will take place in the Mills Learning Commons at Mills Memorial Library and will include a demonstration of the machine and display some of the Library’s rare book collection.

McMaster University, a world-renowned, research-intensive university, fosters a culture of innovation, and a commitment to discovery and learning in teaching, research and scholarship. Based in Hamilton, the University, one of only four Canadian universities to be listed on the Top 100 universities in the world, has a student population of more than 23,000, and an alumni population of more than 130,000 in 128 countries.


For more information, please contact:

Michelle Donovan

Public Relations Manager: Broadcast Media

McMaster University

905-525-9140 ext. 22869

Deanna Vincent

Marketing Communications Manager

Kirtas Technologies, Inc.

585.924.2420 ext. 3037

Gail Jordan

Director of Public Affairs