Google Books Project FAQ

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What is the CIC/Google agreement?
Why did NUL decide to join the project?
Which NUL collections will be digitized?
When will the digitization project start and how long will the project take?
In what order will the collections be processed?
How many titles from NUL's collections will be digitized?
What do I do if I need a title that is currently at Google for digitization?
How long does it take for a title to appear in the Google Books after it has been digitized?
How does the project help NU faculty, students and staff?
How does the project help non-NU researchers?
Who is funding the project?
Will Google scan rare books?
Will scanning harm the books?
Will non-English language titles be included?
Are there any other examples of current NUL digitization initiatives?
How will our digital copies returned from Google be stored?
Why is it important to digitize our library holdings?
Will the titles to be digitized include both public domain and in-copyright works?
Will NUL receive copies of public domain and in-copyright materials?
How will in-copyright works be handled?
Will this project affect how NUL collects and preserves printed materials?
What other institutions are partnering with Google on this project?
Where can I find more information about the Google Books program in general and Google Library Project specifically?
How can I contact the NUL GBP team?

*There are several sources for the entries for this FAQ.  Chief among them are information/entries from the project FAQ's of the CIC, University of Wisconsin,  Cornell University,  Columbia University, and Penn State.

What is the CIC/Google agreement?

 The institutional members of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) partnered with Google to digitize millions of bound volumes in their library collections. For Northwestern University libraries (NUL) this is an important step to preserve the library's print legacy collections and to provide present-day and future users with broad, in-depth access to historically significant print resources. The initiative will preserve in digital form deteriorating 19th century books included in this project, make historic collections more accessible to scholars, and make the ideas and references within books more discoverable through computerized "search and retrieve" capabilities.
 
This partnership will allow for library digitization at a scale and scope that would not be possible with the limited means available to NUL and would have taken hundreds of years and many millions of dollars to complete.  Beyond the scope and speed of digitization made possible by this Agreement, the libraries' intention to build a shared digital repository to house public domain materials is a ground-breaking collaboration. The repository will allow faculty, students and the broader public to immediately access the full content of all 12 universities' rich array of public domain holdings digitized under the Agreement.
 
The CIC has been a national model of inter-university collaboration for 50 years. The consortium's member universities believe the CIC library digitization initiative is an example of the kinds of cooperation--both among peers and with outside parties--needed for higher education to remain strong and relevant in the future.  Leading universities will operate effectively in a common virtual environment; institutions will continue to develop individual core competencies but will also leverage their assets collectively; and universities will seek out innovative partnerships with outside entities to achieve shared goals.
 

 

Why did NUL decide to join the project?

 As announced on June 6, 2007, Google and the CIC entered into a partnership that would allow Google to digitize millions of books owned by CIC libraries, including NUL. The partnership allows for library digitization on a scope and scale that would not be possible without Google and will make the Northwestern University libraries’ content more readily available to a wider audience.

 

Which NUL collections will be digitized?

 Important, unique or distinct sections within the collections of the University Library, the Galter Health Sciences Library and the Pritzker Legal Research Center will be digitized during this project.
 
In addition to emphasizing the digitization of its collections of distinction -- Africana, Music and Transportation --unique titles within the following collections are also scheduled to be digitized: the Art collection, the Seeley G. Mudd Library for Science and Engineering, the Boas Mathematics Library, the Schaffner Library, and other important titles within the general collection, including materials from the East Asian collection and the Reference collection. Of note is the fact that Google has requested that the Transportation Library be digitized in its entirety.
 

 

When would the digitization project start and how long will the project take?

 The digitization project is scheduled to start in October of 2010 and it will take years to complete.

 

In what order will the collections be processed?

 Based on library schedules, internal space reallocation issues and logistical considerations, the project will start by sending materials from the Galter Health Sciences Library, followed immediately by materials from University Library. More detailed schedules for the digitization of collections from University Library and the Pritzker Legal Research Center will be developed at a later date.

 

How many titles from our collections will be digitized?

 Google has indicated that they would like to digitize hundreds of thousands of items from our collections. Throughout the life of the project this number may increase or decrease depending on factors such as new acquisitions by the library or titles from our list digitized by Google from other institutions and no longer needed.

 

What do I do if I need a title that is currently at Google for digitization?

Because of the magnitude and duration of the projects, it is possible that a book you are looking for will be at Google being digitized.
 
If this is the case and you are an NU faculty member, student or staff member you will have three options for obtaining a copy of the book you need:
a)     If you need a copy as soon as possible, follow this link to the Library's Inter-library Loan Department. Upon receiving your request, we will make every effort to borrow a copy from another institution.
b)    If you do not need the book immediately, visit the Circulation Department and place a "hold" on the book. You will be notified when the book returns from Google, and we will have the book waiting for you to pick up. Please note that a book may be out for several weeks.
c)     You may want to check Google Books or HathiTrust in case that the book you want is already available in digital format.
 
If you are not associated with NU, please contact your own institution's interlibrary loan department and ask them to request the book from an institution other than Northwestern or use option "c)" above.

 

How long does it take for a title to appear in the Google Books after it has been digitized? 

On average, it may take up to 10 weeks from the moment a title is pulled from our shelves to the moment it is available in digital format.

 

How does the project help NU faculty, students and staff?

There are many substantive ways in which this project will support the academic activities of our faculty and students:
-       Digitized books in public domain will be accessible 24/7 from anywhere in the world.
-       Indexing of digital content goes beyond the table of contents or chapter headings. Keyword searching of full text will be available, uncovering obscure references which were previously unsearchable.
-       Digital copies will help preserve our print copies, since less handling will now be required.
-       Preparing the books to be digitized has resulted in better catalog records of materials which make them easier to discover.
-       The availability of large quantities of digital text and data would open the doors for new and exciting opportunities to find, manipulate and aggregate data.
-       Students and faculty searching the Google Books interface and the HathiTrust will be directed to the holdings of the Northwestern University libraries once the item has been digitized.

 

How does the project help non-NU researchers?

Non-NU researchers will also benefit from this project:
-       Titles in the public domain from our collections of distinction and unique holdings will be available in full text online to support research at the global level.
-       Titles in-copyright, although not available in full text, will be discoverable and researchers will then be able to request them from our library through their institutions.
-       The increased accessibility will help open new avenues of research.

 

Who is funding the project?

Google assumes the transportation and digitization costs. The Libraries will assume the pre- and post-digitization technical processing costs. Partial funding of the project was generously provided by Northwestern University's office of the Provost in anticipation of the potential benefits to scholars and the research process.

 

Will Google scan rare books?

Books from the McCormick Library of Special Collections will not be part of this project.

 

Will scanning harm the books?

No. Google developed innovative technology to scan the content without harming the books. Any book deemed fragile will not be scanned by Google. Once scanned, all print volumes are returned to the library collections.

 

Will non-English language titles be included?

Non-English language titles from all of our collections will be part of the project and will be digitized. Of special interest will be the great number of African-language titles that will be digitized from the Herskovits Library of African Studies.

 

Are there any other examples of current NUL digitization initiatives?

The University Library Digital Collections department advances the University's teaching and research mission by providing digitization services and support to Northwestern faculty and graduate students. The department partners with other library and university departments to provide these services and to undertake special digitization projects that bring Northwestern's unique and rare collections to researchers around the world.
 
Examples of digital projects completed include: 16th-20th Century maps of Africa; The Siege and Commune of Paris 1870-1871; Chemical History in Chicago; Northwestern Books; and Transportation Library Menus Collection.

 

How will our digital copies returned from Google be stored?

The CIC, acting on behalf of its member universities, entered into an agreement with the HathiTrust, a digital repository administered by the University of Michigan and Indiana University, for securing digital files created by Google or other sources. The HathiTrust infrastructure is a robust and secure environment for making content accessible in the short term, while ensuring its archival fidelity for the long term. HathiTrust currently holds over 6.3 million digital volumes and will continue to grow with the advance of Google digitization, as well as through deposit of files by other digitization partners and member libraries.

 

Why is it important to digitize our library holdings?

The role of archiving and preserving the vast spectrum of written materials is a critical one for university libraries. In a world marked with ever-quickening change, libraries take the long view--century after century. Over time many works become out-of-print, or deteriorate with age, or are threatened by natural disasters or societal upheavals. Digitization enables us to preserve these works for all time. In addition, as we move to a completely technological and digital environment, materials not available in a digital format will become less and less discoverable and less relevant to scholars, students and the public. Finally, digitalization of the world's printed material will democratize information: anyone, anywhere in the world with access to the Internet can have access to the world's printed treasures.

 

Will the titles to be digitized include both public domain and in-copyright works?

Yes. The digitization initiative will include both public domain and in-copyright materials in a manner consistent with copyright law.
 
For books in the public domain, readers will be able to read, download and print the full texts from the Google Books or HathiTrust sites.
 
For books protected by copyright, users will only receive basic bibliographic information (such as the book's title and the author's name), at most a few lines of text related to their search, and information about where they can buy or borrow a book. If publishers or authors do not want to have their books digitized, Google will exclude their titles from the project.

 

Will NUL receive copies of public domain and in-copyright materials?

Google will provide NUL with a digital copy of the public domain materials that are scanned in conjunction with this project. This copy will then go to the HathiTrust in order to make it available to NU and our CIC partners.
 
As for in-copyright material, Google has agreed to hold the files in escrow on a secure server maintained by Google at Google’s cost and expense until such time as certain stipulated release conditions are met.

 

How will in-copyright works be handled?

In-copyright works will be made available for digitization to Google through this project. The full content of the title will be indexed and made searchable through Google Books and a few "snippets" of text will be displayed when a match with a search term occurs. Google Books users will be directed to an online bookstore to purchase a copy of the work, or to the library to consult or borrow the book. Google will hold the digitized file of the in-copyright works in escrow for the CIC and will cover the costs of housing and managing these files in a secure storage system. The works will be released to the CIC universities as the files fall into public domain, as agreements are reached with authors or publishers for the use of the files, or as case law further clarifies their status.

 

Will this project affect how NUL collects and preserves printed materials?

This initiative is unlikely to have much effect on the print acquisition policies of Northwestern University libraries but will extend available options for management of the large print legacy collections. Given the opportunity provided by this partnership to assure some level of intellectual access to content in deteriorating print format, the Library can now refine its decision-making and priorities for higher levels of content preservation and conservation of print artifacts. 

 

What other institutions are partnering with Google on this project?

Google is currently partnering with over 40 national, state, municipal, public and university libraries around the world. Visit the Google Books Library Partners website for a complete list of partners.
 
For information regarding the Google Library Project go here

 

Where can I find more information about the Google Books program in general and the Google Library Project specifically?

Information regarding the Google Books program, including the Google Library Project and agreement information is available here.

 

How can I contact the NUL GBP team?

Contact the NUL Google Books Project by sending an email with your question or comment to googlequestions@northwestern.edu