The twelve libraries of the CIC (Committee on Institutional Cooperation) Consortium (among others: University of Chicago, University of Illinois, Indiana University, University of Michigan, Pennsylvania State University) have joined the Google program for libraries (see the Statement from the Director). From the press release:
We value the legacy collections built over the long histories of our libraries and want to ensure they remain accessible and discoverable in a digital age, said Mark Sandler, director of the CIC’s Center for Library Initiatives. We have a remarkable opportunity not only to preserve what easily could be lost, but to make the entirety of our print collections more accessible than ever through a simple computer search.
Google will have the opportunity to scan some of the most distinctive collections from the CIC’s holdings, now over 75 million volumes. (…) Not only will this project leverage the extraordinary breadth of our combined collections, it will reveal the rich, unique resources at each university, providing a window into the interests of university scholars and institutional strengths over the past 150-plus years, said Wendy Pradt Lougee, University Librarian at the University of Minnesota.
Public domain materials can be viewed, searched or downloaded for printing in their entirety from the Google site. Google will provide the CIC with a digital copy of the public domain materials that are targeted for this project. (this is an important point – I’ve heard that not always do Google let libraries own a copy of the scanned material. But is it possible for libraries to also own a copy of the under-copyright books?)
As a part of the agreement, the consortium also will create a first-of-its-kind shared digital repository to collectively archive and manage the full content of public domain works digitized by Google that are held across the CIC libraries. The shared repository will give faculty and students convenient access to a large and diverse online library before housed in separate locations and connected only by online catalogs, inter-library loans policies and reciprocal borrowing agreements.
In the print world, students and scholars are constrained by searching brief descriptions in card catalogs, tables of contents, and indexes. Now we can search every word in every volume, and make connections across works that would have taken weeks – even years – to make in the past, said Paula Kaufman, University Librarian at the University of Illinois. A shared digital repository will move our distinctive public domain content from the bricks and mortar of individual libraries into one stellar digital resource available at a scholar’s desktop.
Books searchable in full text in a large and shared repository… Could this solve the catalog related problems that librarians all over the world are dealing with? The kind of bibliographic records, the type of semantic metadata, the right classification scheme (or foksonomy or whatever) etc. What if we could adopt a full-text indexing and automated extraction of information directly from the book itself? Should we need complex cataloging rules yet?
(via Web4Lib mailing list)