Partnership With Google Could Expand DigitizationAlice Tzou is the news editor. Contact her at [email protected]
Thursday, July 20, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO-The UC system may soon team up with search engine giant Google to put millions of university library books online.
The university is in talks with the company to join the Google Library Project, which is currently scanning the libraries of the University of Michigan, the University of Oxford, Harvard University, Stanford University and the New York Public Library.
UC President Robert Dynes has final authority to ink the deal, but members of the UC Board of Regents voiced opinions at the regents meeting yesterday.
"We need to be sure ... the arragnement with the corporate entity is fair," said regents Chair Gerald Parsky.
The Google project, launched in 2004, aims to send millions of books to cyberspace, where they will be accessible via search to Web browsers worldwide. More than 34 million UC books could be eligible for digitization.
The project would create two copies of each book-one for Google and one for the university. UC officials said a digital library would give faculty and students a "comparative advantage" by improving access to information.
Teaming with Google could also one day save the university millions in shelving and licensing costs, said Daniel Greenstein, UC director for library planning, who estimated the immediate cost of digitization at a few to several million dollars.
The Google liason would not be the university's first stab at digitization. In October, the UC system signed onto the Open Content Alliance, a similar digitization project led by Yahoo!.
But the Google effort would potentially scan the UC library from end to end, while the Open Content Alliance only targets public domain and out-of-copyright books.
Books bound by copyright currently make up about 75 to 80 percent of UC collections, with public domain books constituting the rest.
Although Google is being sued by some publishers for scanning copyrighted material, UC General Counsel Jeff Blair said any legal risk to the university would be minimal.
The Google partnership would also scan books at a lower cost of about $1 or $2 per volume, compared to about $30 with the Open Content Alliance, Greenstein said.
Some regents, however, said Dynes should take care to achieve a fair deal.
"I have a sense that where they inted to go with it is to make a considerable amount of money off of it one way or another," said Regent Norman Pattiz. "Why wouldn't the university be a participant in the profit center in some way?"
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