Search and Research: Google Takes Libraries Online
Stanford, with 8 million volumes, is the only other library whose entire collection will be scanned. To start, about 40,000 works in Harvard's collection will go into the project. At Oxford's Bodleian Library, Google will scan only books published before 1900.
Google's quest to aggregate all content on the Web has expanded to encompass whole libraries.
The search engine company announced it would be scanning all or parts of the collections of the New York Public Library, Harvard, Oxford, Stanford and the University of Michigan, which will then be searchable online.
University of Michigan spokesperson Nancy Connell said the technology is non-destructive, so no materials will be harmed in the process.
Michigan has been working on its own to scan its system, which contains 7 million volumes, at a pace of 5,000 works per year. Google plans to have the entire system completed in six years.
Connell said the speed is a result of the technology Google will be using. The company would not discuss the technology, but said the project will cost millions of dollars.
University Ties That Bind
Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin met as graduate students at Stanford. Page earned his bachelor's degree at Michigan. Connell said Google and the university had been discussing the project for several years.
Searches will provide only blurbs of copyright-protected books. They will include directions for finding the hard copies at a library. Works whose copyrights have expired will be available online in their entireties. The libraries will get digital copies of all the works scanned so that they can make them accessible as they see fit.
Stanford, with 8 million volumes, is the only other library whose entire collection will be scanned. To start, about 40,000 works in Harvard's collection will go into the project. At Oxford's Bodleian Library, Google will scan only books published before 1900. At the New York Public Library, only fragile scholarly material with expired copyrights fall within the parameters of the project.
Google said it will provide links to search and to partner Amazon.com, as well as to libraries where the books can be found.
The search engine company is not the only one working to get hard copy volumes online. The Library of Congress announced it would work with several libraries around the world to digitize and make available to the public a million books.
The announcement by Google will likely escalate the search-engine wars that have been raging. Microsoft recently announced it was jumping on the bandwagon with its own engine. Yahoo has also been trying to keep step with Google, and Amazon has its own book search function.