Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

UM libraries to be digitized for Googling

14. December 2004 • Murph
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The following is an Nth-hand tip I’ve just received:

Subject: Heads up regarding Tuesday news announcement

The following news will not be for public sharing until after 12 a.m. Tuesday, but I thought you would appreciate an early heads up.

The University today is announcing a groundbreaking partnership with Google that will digitize the entire seven million volumes in the U-M library and make them accessible via a simple Google search.

This project puts the University at the leading edge of a movement that will transform access to knowledge. Anyone who has Internet access, anywhere in the world, will be able to search our entire library, without limitations of geography, time or expense. It is an endeavor that carries remarkable implications for our institution; as a great public research university there is nothing we care about more deeply than the creation and sharing of knowledge.

The project will make it possible for a user to locate and read the full text of works that are out of copyright, and to find snippets of text for copyrighted material, along with information about where a work can be found.

Google will begin placing digitized volumes online in mid-2005, beginning with materials in Buhr. The technology is non-destructive, and rare books are excluded.

As a product of this partnership, the University Library will receive and own a high quality digital copy of the materials digitized by Google, and it will be able to provide enhanced access for University patrons. The digitization at this scale is a massive undertaking that we simply could not have achieved on our own. The University will receive no financial compensation.

Harvard University and the New York Public Library are announcing their own agreements with Google today, and more may participate in the future.

In undertaking this project, we understand and respect the copyright issues involved. As an institution we create, use, and distribute all sorts of copyrighted works, and we care deeply about copyright issues from all aspects. This project is consistent with the very purpose of copyright law as reflected in the U.S. Constitution, to promote the advancement and dissemination of knowledge.

For more information about the project, go to

Paul N. Courant
Provost and Executive Vice President
for Academic Affairs

William A. Gosling
University Librarian
University of Michigan

It sounds like we’re giving Google access to our collection so they can put Project Gutenberg out of business?

UPDATE: More info just out from the Washington Post:

At the New York Public Library, Google is picking up the cost of putting online thousands of the institution’s 20 million volumes as part of a pilot project. Books selected for the project will be those no longer covered by copyright and are deemed to be of public interest.
. . .
Google’s program with Harvard, which has 14.6 million volumes, will also begin as a pilot program. Google plans to scan in about 40,000 volumes before Harvard decides whether to go forward with its entire collection.

Harvard officials said they like the idea of making their books more widely available, but they are concerned about potential damage from the conversion process as well as the possibility that books could be lost. Harvard officials also said they want to learn more about the reaction of the publishing community before proceeding further with Google.

The University of Michigan is making its entire collection of 7.4 million volumes available to Google for scanning and searching by computer users.

A small sample of books from the University of Michigan would be available online beginning today, Wojcicki said.