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The distinctive collections of some of the world’s largest libraries, including about 1 million volumes from the UI Library’s holdings, will become open books under a new agreement between Google Book Search and the 12 prominent research universities that form the Committee on Institutional Cooperation consortium.
Under a six-year, renewable agreement, the CIC universities’ libraries will allow Google to digitize up to 10 million volumes in their collective holdings, including public domain works and copyright materials, and make them searchable online in a manner compliant with copyright law.
Additionally, as many as 5 million of the public domain books selected for digitization will become accessible to the universities’ faculty members, students and the public in a unique online repository collectively archived, managed and funded by the CIC consortium.
Mark Sandler, the director of the CIC Center for Library Initiatives, hailed the digitization project as an unprecedented collaboration that will democratize access to the universities’ holdings and enable the CIC universities to leverage their resources to preserve, protect and archive materials that might go out of print, deteriorate with age and repeated handling or be destroyed by natural disasters.
“The role of archiving and preserving the vast spectrum of written materials is a critical one for university libraries,” Provost Linda Katehi wrote in a June 6 e-mail message to the Urbana campus community announcing the agreement. “As we move to a completely technological and digital environment, materials not available in a digital format will become less and less discoverable. Digitization enables us to preserve our historical collections for all time.”
Adam Smith, product management director for Google Book Search, said Google has developed proprietary scanning technology that “allows us at a very low cost and fairly efficiently to scan the full text of books in a way that is non-damaging to the books themselves.” The books will be converted to digital formats at scanning centers that Google has established at undisclosed locations around the country.
Sandler estimated that digitizing the materials could cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars if the libraries did it themselves. While Google will pay the majority of the costs, the CIC libraries will cover costs associated with retrieving material from their stacks, preparing it for digitization and developing descriptive information, costs that UI Librarian Paula Kaufman said will be absorbed as routine operating costs.
Most of the CIC universities’ libraries began building their vast collections in the mid-19th century and collectively hold more than 78 million volumes. The libraries comprise nationally recognized collections that span 300 languages and worldwide cultures, and are particularly rich in the subjects of agriculture, engineering, medicine, literature and the Midwest, and contain long runs of journals and periodicals, government information and proceedings of scholarly societies.
Google will identify each institution’s unique holdings, and in consultation with university librarians, select distinctive collections for digitization.
Google Book Search users will be able to search the full text of all the digitized materials online, although searches involving in-copyright volumes will yield only bibliographic information – such as a book’s title, the author’s name and publication date – along with key terms and phrases or short excerpts of text surrounding the search terms. Public domain works will be viewable online in their entirety, however, and users will be able to download PDF versions, save and print them.
Google also provides links to bookstores’ and libraries’ Web sites where users can purchase or borrow books.
Currently, more than 1 million books are available online through Google Book Search, and the agreement with the CIC increased to 25 the number of libraries worldwide that are working with Google to digitize portions of their collections. Google is conducting a pilot project with the Library of Congress, and two CIC members – the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin at Madison – already were working with Google prior to the CIC agreement.
Google launched its controversial Library Project in 2004 with Harvard University, Oxford University, Stanford University, University of Michigan and the New York Public Library as its initial partners. Google is engaged in lawsuits with authors and major publishers in the U.S. and France, who contend that digitizing entire books without the copyright owners’ permission violates copyright law. Google’s management maintains that the bibliographic information and text excerpts contained in its online indexes are the digital equivalent of libraries’ card catalogs and comply with copyright statutes.
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible, Smith said.
Committee on Institutional Cooperation
Founded in 1958, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation is a consortium of 12 research universities that promotes academic excellence by sharing resources and coordinating collaborative activities. The CIC, which is governed by the universities’ provosts, is headquartered in Champaign. CIC member universities: