Google to Scan, Index Library Books

In an agreement with five major libraries, Google has begun an ambitious project to scan and index millions of books and periodicals. The information will be integrated into Google's Web search over the next several years.

Launched in October, Google Print already offers glimpses of new books, but focuses primarily on publishers rather than libraries.

The New York public library has agreed to submit books out of copyright, while Harvard will test the process with 40,000 titles. Oxford University has asked Google to index its books published before 1901. Only Stanford and Michigan universities have agreed to provide all of their libraries' materials to Google.

But for now, having a digital copy of books online doesn't mean an end to the library card. Like its current book searches, users will only be able to view bibliographies and excerpts from copyrighted books. Google will, however, provide complete access to books whose copyrights have expired.

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