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Thursday, June 07, 2007

How do you scan 10 million books?

I have no idea either, but evidently the good folks at Google think they can do it. According to this story in today's Chronicle of Higher Education:
Google will greatly expand its Google Library Project through a deal it has made to digitize 10 million books in the libraries of 12 universities.

The 12 universities are members of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, a consortium of the 11 universities in the Big Ten Conference and the University of Chicago. The deal expands the number of agreements Google has made with universities from 15 to 25. Two Big Ten members, the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, had already made independent deals with Google, which this arrangement does not supersede.

Google, which says it aims to make all the world's books fully searchable, has already digitally scanned over a million books, and plans to spend years and millions of dollars digitizing more. The electronic copies include both public-domain and copyrighted works -- much to the chagrin of publishers. Although Google's search results offer only snippets from copyrighted works, publishers have filed a lawsuit against Google for making digital copies of their books without their permission.
So Google has already scanned one million books?!? If they have been at it for three years, that's 330,000 per year or 1,000 books per day. That's pretty impressive but also implies that the new deal will be completed sometime around 2020?

The scale of this scanning operation is mind-boggling. Notwithstanding some of the copyright issues (and as an author of a copyrighted book, I suppose I have a small dog in the fight), the Google library project is an amazing undertaking and a tremendously useful tool.

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