The venerable Project Gutenberg (last featured in the 07-02-2010 Scout Report) is well-known for providing open access to ebooks of public domain texts. But how do those free ebooks come into existence? The primary way is through Distributed Proofreaders, a not-for-profit organization founded in 2000 to help support Project Gutenberg's mission of digitizing public domain books. This organization offers a web-based platform through which volunteers around the world can easily help convert scanned pages into optical character recognition (OCR) text to create ebooks capable of adapting to different screen sizes. To make the process of proofreading entire books faster and much less daunting, individual pages from each book are distributed amongst many volunteers, hence the organization's name. As of this write-up, their team of volunteers has produced well over 36,000 ebooks, all of which now reside in Project Gutenberg's repository. Interested in helping to make public domain books more accessible to the world? Distributed Proofreaders has a handy walkthrough, extensive wiki, and well-organized forum to help new volunteers get started.
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