Search and Research: Google Takes Libraries Online

Google’s quest to aggregate all content on the Web has expanded to encompasswhole libraries.

The search engine company announced it would be scanning all or parts ofthe 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 isnon-destructive, so no materials will be harmed in the process.

Michigan hasbeen working on its own to scan its system, which contains 7 millionvolumes, at a pace of 5,000 works per year. Google plans to have the entiresystem completed in six years.

Connell said the speed is a result of thetechnology Google will be using. The company would not discuss thetechnology, 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 atStanford. Page earned his bachelor’s degree at Michigan. Connell said Googleand the university had been discussing the project for several years.

Searches will provide only blurbs of copyright-protected books. They willinclude directions for finding the hard copies at a library. Works whosecopyrights have expired will be available online in their entireties. Thelibraries will get digital copies of all the works scanned so that they canmake them accessible as they see fit.

Stanford, with 8 million volumes, is the only other library whose entirecollection will be scanned. To start, about 40,000 works in Harvard’scollection will go into the project. At Oxford’s Bodleian Library, Googlewill scan only books published before 1900. At the New York Public Library,only fragile scholarly material with expired copyrights fall within theparameters of the project.

Search Links

Google said it will provide links to search and to partnerAmazon.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 copyvolumes online. The Library of Congress announced it would work with severallibraries around the world to digitize and make available to the public amillion books.

The announcement by Google will likely escalate the search-engine wars thathave been raging. Microsoft recently announced it was jumping on thebandwagon with its own engine. Yahoo has also been trying to keep step withGoogle, and Amazon has its own book search function.

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