Culture & Society News Slovakia

Slovakia digitizes millions of books to preserve literary heritage

Bratislava, Slovakia – Whether you enjoy reading your books on digital screens and tablets or prefer the good-old paperbacks makes little difference: the original book must have survived through the hazards of time. And that’s not necessarily a given.

Euronews reported that Slovakia had launched a massive program of digitisation of hundreds of thousands of books in order to preserve its national literary heritage, threatened by the natural decay of books through time, humidity or loss.

The reporters met with the people behind the project, called Dikda, at the city of Martin’s Slovak National Library. By the end of 2018, more than 2.800.000 objects (books, files, documents, etc.) had been digitised, and the operation has already cost more than 40 million euros, including a total contribution of nearly 28 million euros from the EU’s cohesion funds.

“Digitisation made this task of preserving cultural heritage for posterity much easier for us, because the circulation of physical documents among the users is growing less and less, because they can access the digital copies”, Jan Kovachi, the coordinator of the Dikda program at the Slovak National Library, told reporters.

The team of experts, in charge of cleaning and restoring the books and documents in a state of the art conservation center before the digitisation, explained that they worked at a rate of around 3.000 pages per scanner per day, amounting to around 60.000 pages per day. In total, more than 56 million pages have already been digitised by the end of last year thanks to this broad and ambitious project.

A team of specialists is also in charge of testing all the books and documents for bacteria and micro-organisms that might damage the object over time.

The 3-year program will shortly be coming to an end after reaching its goal of safeguarding a large part of Slovakia‘s national literary heritage for future generations. At the time of writing, the Dikda project has already far outreached its initial goal of digitizing 2.5 million objects (roughly half of which were archives documents from the Slovak National Archives)