Big Ten Partners with Google on Library Scanning Project

Google Inc. announced a deal last week to digitize portions of the libraries of 12 major universities--nearly 10 million books and periodicals--as part of its book scanning project.

The deal includes the University of Chicago and the 11 universities in the Big Ten athletic conference: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, and Wisconsin. The Committee on Institutional Cooperation, an umbrella organization that's shepherding the deal, said Google will be "consistent with copyright law" in moving forward on the project.

The Big 10 is the latest block of universities to join the scanning project. The Web search firm is already working with the University of California and Harvard University to scan portions of their libraries. However, the firm faces a lawsuit by the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild over its plans to incorporate parts of copyrighted books.

U Illinois librarian Nancy Baker said the deal would enable the school to preserve some older, classical parts of its collection, volumes now more than 100 years old. "The content[s] of some books are in danger of being lost because they're 19th century materials, and [they're] on paper that isn't so good," she said in a statement. "We do want to make sure these things are both accessible and available over time."

Several other universities, including Harvard and California, already have signed up to let Google scan their libraries. But Google still faces a lawsuit by the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild over its plans to incorporate parts of copyrighted books.

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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