The INHS Library News blog is to inform users of new resources, library events, library systems downtime, and library schedule changes.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Google Digitization Project at the UIUC

I am very pleased to tell you that later this morning the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) will announce an agreement with Google to digitize distinctive collections across all its libraries as part of the Google Book Search project. As a member of the CIC, we are a part of this important initiative; we expect to have a minimum of 1 million volumes digitized through it. Following is a slightly altered version of the text that will be sent to all faculty members by Provost Katehi later this morning.

The CIC Universities include the University of Chicago, University of Illinois (both UIC and UIUC), Indiana University, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Over the next several years, Google will scan and make searchable up to 10 million public domain and in-copyright volumes in a way that is consistent with copyright law. Public domain materials can be viewed, searched, and downloaded in their entirety. For books under copyright protection, a search will result in basic information (e.g., the book’s title and the author’s name) and a snippet of text surrounding the search term. Users seeking further information from the text will be directed to avenues for library access or purchase.

Additionally, this agreement anticipates the CIC’s intention to create a shared digital repository, so that each university can “deposit” its digitized public domain files into a commonly funded and managed data storage system. Over time, the shared digital repository will enable us to organize and archive content collectively for scholarly activity as well as to design services, such as customized searches, for the academic community. When implemented, students and faculty will have convenient desktop access to a vast array of public domain materials from across all the CIC institutions.

The role of archiving and preserving the vast spectrum of written materials is a critical one for university libraries. Many works go out of print, or deteriorate with age, or are threatened by natural disasters or societal upheavals. As we move towards a heavily technological and digital environment, materials not available in a digital format will become increasingly less discoverable. Digitization enables us to preserve our historical collections in perpetuity.

This partnership with Google will enable the CIC universities to digitize library content at a scale and scope not possible with the limited means available to individual institutions. And now, with the future promise of a shared digital repository, our universities will enter into an ambitious, groundbreaking collaboration to collectively archive digital public domain materials previously housed within the bricks and mortar of individual libraries.

I hope you share my excitement about this historic agreement that will expand access to content for our faculty and students.

Paula Kaufman