First the library brought you the Internet. Now the Internet is bringing you the library.
Google has just announced exclusive deals with five libraries, including the New York Public Library, and university libraries at Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan, and Oxford, to scan some or all of their collections and incorporate the results into the Google search engine database.
Two of the libraries, Michigan and Stanford, have agreed to give the search engine giant access to their entire collections. The other three are allowing Google to scan and index a subset of their collections.
The New York Public Library is allowing Google to index a portion of their collection which is no longer covered by copyright, Oxford is letting them have at all books in their collection which were published before 1901, and Harvard is limiting them to 40,000 volumes in a trial run to see how it goes.
No matter how you slice it, it’s a huge number of books which Google will be putting on line.
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John Wilkin, the University of Michigan librarian who has been working with Google explained that “It will be disruptive because some people will worry that this is the beginning of the end of libraries. But this is something we have to do to revitalize the profession and make it more meaningful.”
While books which are out of copyright will be scanned and offered in full through a Google search, those still covered by copyright will be searchable but only return the relevant sentence or two around the search terms.
Google said that some books from the University of Michigan archive could be online as early as today.
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