Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Yale to Digitize Books with Microsoft

The Yale University Library has inked a deal with Microsoft to digitize 100,000 books from Yale's collections this year, according to a report in the library newsletter. "The initial selection criteria for books chosen will be those in English, published before 1923, and thus part of the public domain and free from copyright restrictions. Yale and Microsoft will work together to identify which of the approximately 13 million volumes held by Yale's 22 libraries will be digitized. Currently, selected books will be in the subject areas of Art and Art History, History, Religion, and Travel. Most are coming from Sterling Memorial Library, Mudd Library, and the Library Shelving Facility as well as from the British Art Center library."

This provides an opportunity to link to a little class project I did this term: a comparative examination of the three major book-scanning sites (Google Books, Microsoft Live Search Books and the Internet Archive's Text Archive). It's written as a class tutorial, so it's quite basic, but it's something.

I'm always surprised when libraries sign on with Microsoft given the low comparative searchability and accessibility that they offer compared to the other two: to me Microsoft's product is clearly the weakest of the three (the lack of an advanced search feature alone is enough to keep me away from it in all but the most dire of circumstances).