Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Article: Google Book Search Libraries and Their Digital Copies

In the April 2007 issue of Searcher magazine, Jill Grogg and Beth Ashmore wrote an excellent article entitled "Google Book Search Libraries and Their Digital Copies." Of course, given how quickly Google has brought on new partners, parts of the article were outdated before it was published, yet it provides wonderful details on the partners that existed when the article was written.

Grogg and Ashmore pointed out that the libraries involved with Google (as of early 2007) had all been involved in digitization programs before Google. Univ. of Michigan (UM), for example, had been digitizing materials since the late 1980s. Prior to Google, for example:
  • UM had digitized "141 text collections with 25 million page images online, plus 3 million pages of encoded text and 89 image collections containing approximately 200,000 images."
  • UM and Cornell had collaborated on the Making of America project that had provided "access to hundreds of volumes of American primary sources from 1850 to 1876."
  • New York Public Library had created the Digital Gallery with more than 520,00 images from its four research libraries.
  • Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison had "made available...close to 2 million pages of content with full range of subjects..."
  • University of California Libraries and the California Digital Library has provided "access to over 170,00 digital images and 50,000 pages of documents about California."
But what are the libraries doing with their digital copies received from Google? The authors wrote that "some library administrators are still weighing option about how to use their library digital copies." The sheer number of library digital copies requires thinking and planning...and perhaps partnering...in order to ensure that access is provided in a way that works now and for the long-term. It could be that organizations such as OCLC will help provide access to these digital copies. The article noted that OCLC was planning a pilot program to link to digitized book titles from WorldCat. It is safe to say, that the digitization work will go on for years and that it may take years to figure out how all of these texts will be made available to people not only at the original institutions but elsewhere in the world.

"Google Book Search Libraries and Their Digital Copies" is a long and well-written article. If you are interested in this project, and its issues, I would encourage you to read the full-text. There is definitely more in the article than I can quote/discuss here.

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