Columbia University Libraries Becomes Newest Partner in Google Book Search Library Project


NEW YORK, December 13, 2007 Columbia University Libraries and Google, Inc. have signed an agreement to digitize a large number of the Libraries’ books in the public domain and make them available online. The project, which is one of several collaborations between Google and major research libraries, will evaluate and review hundreds of thousands of volumes from the Libraries’ collections over the next six years.

The Columbia University Libraries collections contain a remarkable range of books on a wide variety of subjects and dozens of languages from 25 distinct libraries. Among the hundreds of collections that are being considered for digitization are areas in which Columbia has particularly strong holdings, for instance architecture from the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library; political science, sociology, and environmental science from the Lehman Social Sciences Library; Area Studies collections of history and literature materials from Eastern Europe, Central and South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin and South America; or East Asian languages and history from the C. V. Starr East Asian Library. Their inclusion will extend and enrich the scope of the materials available through Google Book Search.

Digital copies of the books from Columbia will be fully searchable through Google Book Search. Users will be able to employ any key words they choose to search the full text of books. Because the books being digitized are in the public domain, users will be able to view the full text of the books and download them for leisure reading, research or printing for later reference.

By partnering with Google Book Search, the Libraries will support the research and teaching mission of the University by archiving and making accessible scholarly resources that the Libraries have been collecting since the early nineteenth century.

“Our participation in the Google Book Search Library Project will add significantly to the extensive digital resources the Libraries already deliver,” said James Neal, Columbia’s vice president for information services and university librarian. “It will enable the Libraries to make available more significant portions of its extraordinary archival and special collections to scholars and researchers worldwide in ways that will ultimately change the nature of scholarship.”

Alan Brinkley, provost and Allan Nevins Professor of American History, said, “The Google partnership promises enormous benefits to Columbia University and the communities it serves. Amongst them, of course, is the free and open full-text access we can provide to our public domain holdings.”

Columbia Libraries will receive a digital copy of every book scanned and will, in the coming months, decide the various uses of those copies. Libraries are unique in their charge not only to acquire, organize and disseminate information, but also to preserve it for future generations. The presence of these digital copies in a permanent, digital archive will help ensure that the intellectual content of these works remains available into the future.

Over time, Columbia also intends to use the digital copy of these public-domain works in its teaching and research activities, which increasingly take place in a digital environment. The University expects to integrate digital copies of the books scanned by Google into that environment and to extend their utility for research and teaching. This is a large and challenging undertaking, but in due course should yield substantial benefits for education and research.

Columbia University Libraries is the most recent library to partner with Google Book Search. Other partners include University of Michigan; Harvard University; Oxford University; the New York Public Library; Stanford University; University of California; University of Texas at Austin; University of Virginia; University of Wisconsin-Madison; Princeton Library; the Complutense University of Madrid; the Bavarian State Library; the Library of Catalonia; the University Library of Lausanne; Ghent University Library; Keio University Library; Cornell University and the Committee on Institutional Collaboration (CIC) schools, including University of Chicago, University of Illinois, Indiana University, University of Iowa, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries’ website at www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/ is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.

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Frequently Asked Questions about the Columbia University - Google Book Search Library Partnership

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