Lunch & Learn: Princeton’s Partnership with Google Books

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The Google Books Library Project is a collaborative effort between Google and more than 20 academic libraries and publishers to scan and make searchable major research collections. When books are out of copyright and in the public domain, the public can now use Google Book Search to view bibliographic information, to read and search the texts, and even download them.

Google Books is a product resulting from the combination of the Google Library Partnerships (29 libraries) and the Google Publishers Partnership (many thousands)
The library project began in 2005 with Harvard, the New York Public Library, Stanford University, the University of Michigan, and Oxford University.Princeton joined the project in 2006. Many other institutions of higher education and several publishers have now joined the endeavor.

When Princeton joined, University Librarian Karin Trainer remarked:
“Generations of Princeton librarians have devoted themselves to building a remarkable collection of books in thousands of subjects and dozens of languages. Having the portion of that collection not covered by copyright available online will make it easier for Princeton students and faculty to do research, and joining the Google partnership allows us to share our collection with researchers worldwide, a step very much in keeping with the University’s unofficial motto of Princeton in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations.”

In the November 4 Lunch ‘n Learn, three members of the University Library described recent developments in the Library’s Partnership Project with Google, provided an update on the Google Settlement from the Library’s perspective.
As Head of the Donald E. Stokes Library for Public and International Affairs and Population Research, Nancy Pressman-Levy is regularly involved in teaching the use of Library electronic resources to all Library patrons. She began the talk by demonstrating some of the recent new features in Google Book Search, which permits you to search the full text of the books that Google is scanning as part of this project.

She has assembled an online guide to complement the talk.
When books are out of copyright, you can see books in Full View. You can see a more limited view if publishers or the author have given the right to view works in copyright. For some works, you have a Snippet View that provides some context around your search, you can create your own libraries, you can zoom in and out of scanned text, and you can clip portions of text or images. She also showed how you can link to such searches directly from the Main Catalog and other Library systems.

Richard J. Schulz is Associate University Librarian for Technical Services. His staff oversees the project in which Google is scanning many of the Library’s books. He briefly reviewed the operational side of the project. Princeton has provided a scope list of the books in our location that are in the public domain. Google returns a list of the books they want to scan. Prior to shipping, University staff assess the condition of the books. Some are too fragile, but most can be sent. Each book is carefully logged such that it can be returned quickly if a patron requests it. Accessibility to the collection is never lost.
Princeton and Google have copious guidelines regarding the condition of books, and some books in the scanning process require special attention, but in the end, 99.6% of the books that are sent are scanned.

In February, Karin Trainer estimated in the Daily Princetonian 2007 that the project would involve six years and the full text of approximately one million books. More than half of the books sent are now available in full text. Another third are available in Snippet mode. We are now looking now at special collections books to determine whether some subset can be sent.

MarvinBielawsky.jpgMarvin Bielawski is Deputy University Librarian and Head of the Library Systems Office. He has been involved in negotiating the contract with Google and the projected settlement amendment.
He noted that project critics have pointed out flaws in Google Book Search. Google is aware of these issues and has assembled a huge team to work towards more accurate metadata, better handling of linking multi-volume works, and to improve the quality of OCR and image capture.

The Authors Guild of the United States and the Association of American Publishers sued Google in a class action suit. The main concern was that Google ought not to have scanned the in-copyright materials from partner libraries. Google has maintained throughout that their approach fell under fair use. A revised settlement agreement is due in court this November 9. Bielawski said that a provision of the settlement would create a new independent entity, a Book Rights Registry staffed by representatives from the Authors Guild and Association of American Publishers. They will distribute the royalties that will come from Google’s income related to the in-copyright material.

Google in turn will be able to create a commercial model, and an institutional model for access. Anyone on the internet will be able to buy and download one of these books. The institutional model will be subscription based for cultural and educational institutions. Full text of much of the in-copyright material will be available in the subscription.
If the Settlement is approved, Princeton will be able to subscribe, thus unlocking a tremendous amount of content for our users. And, if we sign on as a Full Partner in the Settlement, we will have the option of sending our in-copyright material to Google for scanning and adding to the corpus.

A podcast and a presentation are available.

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