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Consortium of 12 universities joins Google Book Search

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The Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), which includes 12 US universities, has announced a collective agreement to digitise up to 10 million volumes as part of the Google Book Search project.

Through this agreement, Google will digitally scan and make searchable both public domain and in copyright materials in a manner consistent with copyright law. Google will also provide the CIC with a digital copy of the public domain materials that are targeted for this project.

'This library digitisation agreement is one of the largest cooperative actions of its kind in higher education,' said CIC chairman Lawrence Dumas, provost of Northwestern University. 'We have a collective ambition to share resources and work together to preserve and index the world’s printed treasures.'

'We value the legacy collections built over the long histories of our libraries and want to ensure they remain accessible and discoverable in a digital age,' said Mark Sandler, director of the CIC’s Center for Library Initiatives.

As a part of the agreement, the consortium also will create a shared digital repository to collectively archive and manage the full content of public domain works digitised by Google that are held across the CIC libraries. The shared repository will give faculty and students access to a large and diverse online library that was previously housed in separate locations and connected only by online catalogues, inter-library loans policies and reciprocal borrowing agreements. This new collaboration will enable librarians to collectively archive materials over time, and allow scholars to access a vast array of material with searches customised for scholarly activity, believe the partners.

'Now we can search every word in every volume, and make connections across works that would have taken weeks – even years – to make in the past,' explained Paula Kaufman, university librarian at the University of Illinois. 'A shared digital repository will move our distinctive public domain content from the bricks and mortar of individual libraries into one stellar digital resource available at a scholar’s desktop.'