Millions of hard-to-find books from five major libraries will soon be a lot easier to access: Google has made plans to scan and digitize them, making the books available on their widely used Internet search engine.
Google’s latest endeavor is a large step beyond previous attempts to scan books so they can be read online (Google, Amazon.com and other smaller sites have offered glimpses of books and libraries online before). What makes this initiative so different is the sheer breadth of material that Google plans to cover.
Five libraries will be involved in the project in various stages:
* New York public library: Allowing Google a small portion of books no longer covered by copyright.
* Harvard University library: Is contributing a limited 40,000 volumes to gauge how well the process works.
* Stanford University library: Will submit its entire collection to Google’s scanners.
* Michigan University library: Will also submit its entire collection.
* Oxford University library: Contributing all its books published before 1901
To get an idea of just how large a project Google is taking on, consider that Michigan’s library alone contains 7 million volumes, which is about 132 miles of books, while Harvard’s library contains 15 million. The Michigan job is expected to take six years.
Although some in the field worry that this trend could signal the end of libraries, others are excited at the prospect of putting valuable information that was once limited in its use at the fingertips of all Internet users. The project will also create a digital record for material that was created before computers, thereby preserving it in a way that could not have been done in the past.
Google users will only be able to view bibliographies and other brief excerpts from the copyrighted books scanned from the libraries, while works no longer covered by copyrights will be completely available to the online public.
USA Today December 14, 2004
New York Times December 14, 2004
Dr. Mercola’s Comment:
Google’s founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, have long vowed to make all of the world’s information accessible to anyone with a Web browser. Now that vow will come closer to being implemented as Google has made an agreement with some of the nation’s leading research libraries and Oxford University to begin converting their holdings into digital files that would be freely searchable over the Web.
Harvard, the University of Michigan, Stanford and the New York Public Library are some of the U.S. institutions that will be involved. The whole project will convert about 15 million books at a cost of $150 million, or about $10 per book.
Plus, the Library of Congress and a group of international libraries from the United States, Canada, Egypt, China and the Netherlands announced a plan to create a publicly available digital archive of 1 million books on the Internet. The group said it planned to have 70,000 volumes online by next April.
Doesn’t that just want to make you get out of your chair and shout! I don’t know about you, but I am excited.
As long as I am excited about Google I want to let you know that Google has been my home page for over seven years. Why would anyone want to have anything different?
Well, last week I changed my home page. Don’t get worried, it is still Google but it is their new Google Suggest. It suggests queries as you type what you are looking for into the search box. By offering more refined searches up front, Google Suggest can make your searching more convenient and efficient, because it eliminates the need to type the entire text of a query.
In addition, the service can connect you with new query suggestions that are useful, intriguing and fun. Go ahead, try it, you might even make it your new home page. My guess is that in a few years this might be the main Google search engine.
While I am on the topic of Google, I have to tell you about the new version of Firefox 1.0. If you haven’t switched to Firefox you simply must read my article on why you should do so immediately. Firefox isn’t just for alpha geeks anymore. As of last week over 10 MILLION people have downloaded Firefox and installed it as their browser.
Many of you are already one of those 10 million, but the majority of you probably don’t know that Firefox comes preinstalled with search engines other than Google in its toolbar.
I just found out the newest version has a neat feature where you can click the small triangle next to the bottom of the default “G” on the left of the Google search box and you will be able to use other search engines. There are three in there that I use all the time: eBay, Amazon and Dictionary.com. But I recently was able to go to a Firefox add-in page and with one click insert my favorite gadget blog Engadget so now it is one of the options.