UC Santa Cruz is first UC campus to contribute books for Google digital library project

University Librarian Virginia Steel (photo by Scott Rappaport)

The University of California, Santa Cruz, today became the first UC campus to contribute a shipment of books from its library for the Google Books Library Project.

The massive project was launched in 2004 when Google announced it would be working with the libraries of the University of Michigan, Harvard University, Stanford University, and the New York Public Library to scan their books and make the full text searchable online. The University of California agreed to partner with Google on the project in 2006, and is one of 28 institutions in seven countries that will have the contents of their extensive libraries scanned by Google Book Search.

Since fall of 2006, Google has been digitizing books from UC's Northern Regional Library Facility, located in Richmond. With today's shipment from the collections held at UC Santa Cruz's McHenry Library, Google is now expanding its scanning activities to the UC campuses. Digitizing the entire UC library collection is expected to take approximately six years.

"Scanning the contents of the books in the UCSC Library is a great step forward in improving access to these materials for students, faculty, and other researchers," said University Librarian Virginia Steel. "This promises to significantly enhance their ability to identify relevant resources and to uncover materials that would otherwise have been hard to discover."

Steel noted that shipments to Google will occur on a regular schedule and all of the books will be returned to the library once they are scanned. She said that items are expected to be off the shelf no longer than three weeks at a time.

"Scanning helps increase discovery of materials, but we know that people still prefer to read lengthy works in print formats rather than online," said Steel. "The Google scanning is a non-destructive process; the books are not damaged when they are scanned, and Google's track record for preserving the condition of materials is excellent."

As the books are scanned, they will be made available on the Google web site. Users will be able to freely view, browse, and read public domain books; for books protected by copyright, users will be provided with information such as a name, title, and where the books can be borrowed or purchased. Authors and publishers who choose not to have their books digitized will be excluded.

"We would not have been able to afford to digitize our library collections ourselves, so the partnership that UC has established with Google will allow us to accomplish a challenging goal that otherwise would have been difficult to reach," Steel added.