A post by Brewster Kahle at the Internet Archive Blogs describes the Internet Archive’s plan to create “a physical archive for the long term preservation of one copy of every book, record, and movie we are able to attract or acquire.” This sounds odd at first, but Kahle explains:
After the Internet Archive digitizes a book from a library in order to provide free public access to people world-wide, these books go back on the shelves of the library. We noticed an increasing number of books from these libraries moving books to “off site repositories” … to make space in central buildings for more meeting spaces and work spaces. These repositories have filled quickly and sometimes prompt the de-accessioning of books. …
Because we expect day-to-day access to these materials to occur through digital means, … our physical archive is designed for long-term preservation of materials with only occasional, collection-scale retrieval. Because of this, we can create optimized environments for physical preservation and organizational structures that facilitate appropriate access. A seed bank might be conceptually closest to what we have in mind: storing important objects in safe ways to be used for redundancy, authority, and in case of catastrophe.
The goal is to preserve one copy of every published work. The universe of unique titles has been estimated at close to one hundred million items. Many of these are rare or unique, so we do not expect most of these to come to the Internet Archive; they will instead remain in their current libraries. But the opportunity to preserve over ten million items is possible, so we have designed a system that will expand to this level. Ten million books is approximately the size of a world-class university library or public library, so we see this as a worthwhile goal. If we are successful, then this set of cultural materials will last for centuries and could be beneficial in ways that we cannot predict.
There’s much more discussion of details at the link. I like the idea of keeping physical books in safe conditions—I don’t trust this newfangled internet whozeewhatsis.