Thursday, August 03, 2006

UC Libraries Could Partner with Google

The LATimes reported late Tuesday that the University of California's library system - with its 34 million volumes - is in talks with Google about joining that company's ambitious Book Search Library project to digitize and offer access (in some form) to many of the world's books. The report notes "UC President Robert C. Dynes and top UC librarians are negotiating a contract to follow six other prestigious library systems, including Harvard's and Stanford's," into the program, which began several years ago. "A UC deal with Google could be announced within a month, officials said. However, the arrangement first faces close scrutiny from the UC regents and the publishing world for potential copyright issues and concerns that UC might lose out on future revenue."

The project is the subject of ongoing litigation by authors and publishers who say that Google cannot scan copyrighted materials even if it doesn't provide full access to them. UC associate vice provost for scholarly information told the Times that the California system would probably follow the example of the University of Michigan, which allows Google to scan books in and out of copyright.

Google plans to digitize "several million books in UC's holdings over the next six years or so" - UC will receive copies of the scanned books and will save book purchase and other costs (although the project will require an initial outlay of several million dollars for equipment, storage, and logistics).

I'm a huge fan of the Google Book Library Search project; although I agree that there could be some legitimate concerns, I think Google has acted in good faith to mitigate them. It's excellent to see other large academic libraries getting involved, and I hope that the UC partnership is approved.

Note: Those libraries currently affiliated with the project are Stanford, Harvard, University of Michigan, New York Public Library, Oxford University and (provisionally) the Library of Congress.

(h/t: Bibliophile Bullpen)