Rocket scientist reinvents the library

US (Palo Alto)

Today there is more content out there than ever, but digital doesn’t necessarily equal accessible. Millions of people worldwide suffer from disabilities that mean they can’t simply read a book.

It took a rocket scientist to come up with a simple solution. In 2002, Jim Fruchterman exchanged making smart bombs at Caltech, one of the world’s top universities, for making people smarter by launching Bookshare. Now the world’s largest library of accessible books for people who find it difficult to read print, it works with character recognition to deliver content on braille readers, MP3 players, phones and tablets in languages from Afrikaans to Polish, with books scanned and then proofed by volunteers and remote workers worldwide.

Reinventing the library may not be rocket science, but by providing education, employment opportunities and inclusion in the developing world, the social entrepreneur is making a big bang in the digital book revolution.

Written by

Lisa Goldapple, Editor, Atlas of the Future (29 July 2015)

Project leader

Jim Fruchterman, CEO, Benetech

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