Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, June 07, 2007

12 research universities join Google Library project

All 12 universities in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) have joined the Google Library project.

From Google's press release (June 6, 2007):

The number of libraries participating in the Google Book Search Library Project just got a whole lot bigger with today's addition of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC). The CIC is a national consortium of 12 research universities, including University of Chicago, University of Illinois, Indiana University, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Google will work with the CIC to digitize select collections across all its libraries, up to 10 million volumes....

Google will provide the CIC with a digital copy of the public domain materials digitized for this project. With these files, the consortium will create a first-of-its-kind shared digital repository of these works held across the CIC libraries. Both readers and libraries will benefit from this group effort:

  • The shared repository of public domain books will give faculty and students convenient access to a large and diverse online library before housed in separate locations.
  • This new collaboration will enable librarians to collectively archive materials over time, and allow researchers to access a vast array of material with searches customized for scholarly activity.

For books in the public domain, readers will be able to view, browse, and read the full texts online. For books protected by copyright, users will get basic background (such as the book's title and the author's name), at most a few lines of text related to their search, and information about where they can buy or borrow a book.

"This library digitization agreement is one of the largest cooperative actions of its kind in higher education," said CIC chairman Lawrence Dumas, provost of Northwestern University. "We have a collective ambition to share resources and work together to preserve the world's printed treasures."
Two CIC member universities are already working with Google Book Search, the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and this new agreement will complement the digitization work already taking place....

More from the CIC press release (June 6, 2007):

...[S]aid 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. The collections are comprehensive and global in scope, such as Northwestern’s Africana collection and the University of Chicago’s renowned South Asia holdings. The collective library holdings also underscore the Midwest foundation of the CIC universities....

Also see the CIC's collection of related links, such as an FAQ and highlights of the member libraries.

More from Dan Carnevale's story in today's Chronicle of Higher Education (accessible only to subscribers):

Adam M. Smith, product management director for Google Book Search, said the goal of Google Book Search "is to create a repository of books that allows users to search the full text of those books as easily as they search Web pages today." ...

Sanford G. Thatcher, president elect of the Association of American University Presses, has been a vocal critic of Google's digitization of copyrighted works. But he is also director of Penn State University Press -- and Pennsylvania State University is a member of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation. He said he applauds Google's effort to preserve public-domain books and to make them widely accessible....[He gives this deal] "two and a half cheers." He added: "I simply reserve the one-half cheer for the fact that they are including some copyrighted material in here."


  • This is the first consortium to join the Google Library project all at once, unless you count the 10-campus University of California system (which joined in August 2006).  It's a huge jump for the scope of project. 
  • See the June SOAN for some recent CIC activities in support of OA, particularly its provost letter in support of FRPAA (July 2006) and its author addendum (May 2007), which has now been adopted by three CIC institutions.