Google, Inc., flush from a solid IPO, is serving five of the leading libraries by offering to pick up the tab for scanning the hallowed collections and making the resulting texts available online, in many cases, at no charge to the reader. The new project, Google Print, offers an entirely new way of conducting library research.
Libraries participating in the initial round of literary digitalization include Stanford University, with holdings of 8 million books, the University of Michigan, with 7 million titles and Oxford University, although only the pre-1900 collections will be available from Oxford. Harvard University and the New York Public Library have agreed to participate in a test phase, making a portion of each of their library’s holdings available to Google’s project.
Google, already has in index of 8 billion web pages, and this literary digitalization project would place the popular search engine in a league of its own, outpacing rivals Yahoo! and Microsoft’s MSN web directories/search engines.
Google has, recently, been embroiled in a competitive wrangle over command of the desktop search toolbar market niche. This literary digitalization and search project puts Google into its own classification of data search and retrieval service. Desktop search services pale in comparison to the value created by making the world’s premier libraries available with the click of a mouse.
Anyone who thinks that the great academic research libraries are still to be physical place is missing the boat. If you’re one who loves wandering the stacks, you’re going to have to learn wander the keyboard, instead. And, wasn’t it just last month that I wrote about Google Scholar, the data retrieval company’s effort to make scholarly articles available online?
I’ve already received requests from Google to digitize my books. Maybe, it’s time for me to jump on the bandwagon.
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