11/10/12 - Internet - The Metropolitan Museum of Art - The Metropolitan Museum is innovating by launching MetPublications which offers free PDF downloading of a part, and eventually all, of its out-of-print publications (exhibition catalogues, colloquia proceedings, collection catalogues...).
Anyone not owning them already will now be able to access and read titles as varied as American Paradise : the World of the Hudson River School (1987), The Age of Napoleon : Costume from Revolution to Empire, 1789-1815 (1989), Antonello da Messina : Sicily’s Renaissance Master (2005) or Caravaggio Rediscovered : The Lute Player (1989), to choose only four, by simply clicking on their computer or tablet. There are already 386 works, impossible to find today (except in second-hand bookshops), now available at no cost. Some of them can also be printed on request and purchased as a reprint.
Regrettably, the search engine does not allow users to crosscheck the criteria with the one provided free of charge on the website. Only titles which can be downloaded are available for selection but users must go through 31 pages to see the entire work.
Books which are still available or just recently published are not free but thanks to an interface with Google Books, some pages may be consulted before ordering. This function is somewhat of a gadget if compared with the service offering out of print books.
Will this initiative be followed by other American, even European, institutions ? In any case, this proves once again that internet is progressively becoming one of the largest libraries ever imagined where the number of scholarly publications, free of charge, continues to grow.