Frequently Asked Questions about the Columbia University - Microsoft Live Search Books Partnership

Q: What is the Columbia University — Microsoft project?

A: Microsoft Corp. is digitizing a significant number of Columbia University’s books that are not under copyright restriction. Internet users will be able to search, display and download the full text of the digitized works using Live Search Books.

Q: What is Live Search Books?

A: Live Search Books is advancing the way people search online by digitizing and indexing information from printed material from around the world, supporting Microsoft’s overall efforts to answer people’s questions with trusted content from the best possible sources.

Live Search Books is a component of Microsoft’s Live Search service. Live Search delivers Internet search results organized so that customers can quickly find what they are looking for and spend less time clicking through search results and other related Web sites. Live Search is available at Live Search Books is available at

Q: How will it benefit Columbia students, faculty and researchers?

A: Columbia students, faculty and researchers will have online access to many thousands of works from Columbia’s collections. Scanned material also will be available directly from the Columbia Web site — providing, for example, enhancements or customizations targeted to the Columbia community. University faculty and researchers will be able to incorporate this digital content into scholarly projects in various venues and will have access to the full text of publications for analysis.

Q: How does this project help people outside Columbia University?

A: Digitizing Columbia’s collections and making them accessible on Live Search Books will make them available to students, teachers, scholars and readers around the world. Columbia also can share portions of its digital copies with other libraries and educational institutions for their internal research and educational functions.

Q: What material will be scanned?

A: Columbia Libraries and Microsoft will select from the many thousands of public domain volumes in Columbia’s collections. No works that are in copyright will be digitized under the agreement unless the copyright owner gives permission. Although the project will focus on bound, printed books to start, the project may include material in other formats over time.

Q: What format of books can be digitalized?

A: In general, most books can be scanned and digitally incorporated into the Live Search Books program. The machines used to scan and enter this information into Live Search Books can handle softcover and hardbound books in a wide variety of sizes.

Q: Is Microsoft working on similar projects with other major libraries?

A: Several libraries’ books are incorporated into the Live Search Books offering at this time, including books from the University of California and the University of Toronto. Books from the British Library, Cornell University, Yale University, the New York Public Library and the American Museum of Veterinary Medicine also were recently added.

Q: Where will the scanning take place?

A: The books will be shipped from Columbia University to a secure outside vendor to be digitized.

Q: Who is funding this project?

A: Microsoft assumes the cost of digitization, and Columbia pays for identifying and providing the books to Microsoft.

Q: What materials are in the public domain?

A: Works published in the United States before 1923 are in the public domain, as they are no longer protected by copyright. For works published outside the U.S., determining the copyright terms can be difficult and would need to be determined by the Microsoft Copyright Group.

Q: Does Microsoft respect and honor copyrights?

A: Microsoft is committed to respecting the copyrights of content owners.

Q: What will Columbia Libraries do with its digital copy of these works?

A: Columbia Libraries plans to store all digitized books created as part of this project in a long-term digital archive, so that they can be retained permanently for the future. Columbia Libraries will also put selected titles on the university’s Web site when useful for teaching or research.

Q: If I need a book that’s out being scanned, how quickly can I get it back?

A: A book will be unavailable for the short period of time in which it is being scanned; however, best efforts will be made to minimize its time out of circulation. If you need a book that is checked out for scanning, you can obtain it the same way you would any other item that is checked out in CLIO*. The requested book should be returned and available in about the same amount of time it would take if you recalled it from a library patron or requested it from Borrow Direct or Interlibrary Loan. (For more information about obtaining items checked out in CLIO, see the Libraries’ Request It services at

Q: Where can I find more information about Live Search Books?

A: Live Search Books is available at You can also visit the Live Search blog at


*CLIO is the online catalog for the Columbia, Barnard and Union Theological Seminary libraries. CLIO does not include the collections of the Law Library, Jewish Theological Seminary, and Teachers College, which have their own separate catalogs.

For more information, press only: Rapid Response Team, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, (503) 443-7070,

02/01/08 LMK