Uncategorized | November 01, 2005

Google Print today resumes its project of digitally archiving the holdings of its partner libraries (the University of Michigan, Stanford, Oxford, the New York Public Library and Harvard). The project has been suspended since August, allowing publishers to determine which of their titles they wish to withhold from the archive. This concession has not quelled the controversy surrounding the project: both the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers have brought suit against Google for copyright infringement.

According to Google Blog, Google Print will move forward by scanning older books first: “As always, the focus of our library effort is on scanning books that are unique to libraries including many public domain books, orphaned works and out-of-print titles…we want to make all books easier to find, and as we get through the older parts of the libraries we’ll start scanning the stacks that house newer books.”

Users of Google Print can perform searches within the existing archive. The results are not full-text, but rather, provide roughly as much access to the book’s content as is available through an online book retailer like Amazon.com. Should a user wish to access the book in full, she may link to an online bookseller or local library.

It remains to be seen whether Google Print will accomplish its egalitarian goal of making rare books available to all, but its archive does provide relief for those of us unable to remember just where we read this or that. The effect is like memory recovery: with a line from a poem and in less than a second, Google Print brought back a title that I had struggled for years to recollect. Readers in similar straits may wish to seek relief.

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