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Harvard Libraries and Google Announce Pilot Digitization Project

:: The rest of the title reads: "...with Potential Benefits to Scholars Worldwide." I hope the use of "Scholars" doesn't upset ACS. ;-) Harvard is the first in what could become a series of major libraries to collaborate with Google:

Harvard University is embarking on a collaboration with Google that could harness Google’s search technology to provide to both the Harvard community and the larger public a revolutionary new information location tool to find materials available in libraries. In the coming months, Google will collaborate with Harvard's libraries on a pilot project to digitize a substantial number of the 15 million volumes held in the University's extensive library system. Google will provide online access to the full text of those works that are in the public domain. In related agreements, Google will launch similar projects with Oxford, Stanford, the University of Michigan, and the New York Public Library. An FAQ detailing the Harvard pilot program with Google is available at http://hul.harvard.edu and on the Harvard home page.

The Harvard pilot will provide the information and experience on which the University can base a decision to launch a large-scale digitization program. Any such decision will reflect the fact that Harvard's library holdings are among the University's core assets, that the magnitude of those holdings is unique among university libraries anywhere in the world, and that the stewardship of these holdings is of paramount importance. If the pilot is deemed successful, Harvard will explore a long-term program with Google through which the vast majority of the University's library books would be digitized and included in Google's searchable database. Google will bear the direct costs of digitization in the pilot project.

Larry Page, co-founder of Google, noted that "we dreamed of making the incredible breadth of information that librarians so lovingly organize to be searchable online.":
"Even before we started Google, we dreamed of making the incredible breadth of information that librarians so lovingly organize to be searchable online. Today we're pleased to announce this program with these prestigious libraries to digitize their collections so that every Google user can search them instantly," said Larry Page, Google co-founder and president of products.

Page continued, "Our work with libraries further enhances the existing Google Print program which enables users to find matches within the full text of books, while publishers and authors monetize that information. Google's mission is to organize the world's information, and we're excited to be working with libraries to make even more of it available to Google users worldwide."

Now begins another round in the ongoing series of speculations and musings about Google and its place in the world of libraries and reference and collection work and information retrieval. Wait a minute - Google is swallowing our online catalogues! What happens next? Will these collections also appear in Google Scholar? (Will Google Scholar change its name to Google Educated, or Google Learned?)

If Google starts adding digitized collections the size of Harvard, what are the copyright implications? How might the option to access full-texts of millions of titles via Google affect book sales?

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