Google Digitizing Library Collections

The news is finally out — Google is digitizing parts or all of five major library collections. Harvard, Stanford, and the New York Public Library have agreed to pilot projects with Google, primarily scanning public domain works. Oxford University has agreed to have everything published before 1900 scanned. The University of Michigan, however, will have their entire collection digitized. This includes material in the public domain, as well as material that is still under copyright.

Google will provide resources for the scanning, which will happen at each location. Ultimately, Google will search these digitized materials. The libraries will also received a copy of their digitized collections.

Copyright is, of course, a big issue. If a Google user finds a document in the public domain, it will be displayed to them. If they find a document still under copyright, the user will see a few sentences surrounding the search term(s) and methods for obtaining the original, e.g., online bookstore, library.

It will be interesting to see how this will all work itself out. Keep watching!

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