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Google’s virtual library

Tanya Goodin
Tanya Goodin
5 April 2007

Google are currently working with university libraries across the UK
and US to create a virtual library. Whilst the project is currently
limited to out-of-copyright works in the UK, the grand plan is to
eventually digitise every book ever published; and this is all
achievable in less than 10 years.

The process is labour intensive with a team currently working at
the Bodleian Library at Oxford University scanning in every page
manually. The data is then sent to Google in the US where the words are
converted into digital format and made searchable. You can see the
beginnings of the project taking shape at books.google.com.

The project has caused a very public outcry from Microsoft about the
validity of the project and also from authors concerned about copyright
issues. It’s not the first time this type of project has been
undertaken as Amazon and Microsoft have also worked on book
digitisation projects, however it’s certainly the most ambitious and as
the law suits and critics mount it will be an interesting project to

Nicky says:

‘The success of the project will be dependant on the format that
the information is presented in; it’s very hard to actually read books
online, as previous e-Book projects have shown. However access to this
quantity of information will be very useful if managed from a
user-friendly perspective.’



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