UC Libraries May Join Google Project

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The University of California (UC) system could take part in Google’s book-scanning project, and would make 34 million volumes available to the search engine.

UC associate vice provost for scholarly affairs Daniel Greenstein apparently has a vision of universal access to scholarly works that parallels Google’s. The Los Angeles Times cited as favoring the Google Books Library Project as a way to make their libraries available to all.

Greenstein said Google would “create access like we’ve never had before to our cultural heritage and scholarly memory. It’s a whole new paradigm.” Six other library systems, including five universities and the New York Public Library, have already signed on with Google’s ambitious scanning project.

Protection of knowledge from loss and destruction would be one benefit of digitizing books and storing them electronically. Greenstein noted how much could be lost in the aftermath of another hurricane like Katrina; California is vulnerable to earthquakes, and fires resulting from a major quake could remove thousands of pages from the world forever.

While public domain works published before 1923 may be scanned without threat of litigation, works published after that period are covered by copyright laws. This has proven to be a contentious issue for Google, which regularly indexes online content for its search engine.

Google sees its book scanning as an extension of what it does online. Lawsuits against Google claim this is copyright violation on a massive scale. Those suits brought by the Author’s Guild and the American Association of Publishers are still in process; the plaintiffs do not want books scanned at all unless Google specifically asks for permission to do so.

The UC system would not be paid by Google, according to the Times. Instead it would benefit from the cost savings associated with sending students to electronic versions of books and journals instead of having to buy more printed copies.

UC would still have to front $1 million to $5 million to pay for electronic storage, and about $700,000 per year in ongoing costs during the book scanning phase of the project.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

UC Libraries May Join Google Project
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