UC Joins Google Book Search Project

The University of California said Wednesday that it will join Google in its book-scanning project, giving the Mountain View, Calif. company considerable leverage in attracting other libraries to join the fold. At more than 100 libraries strong, the UC system will be the largest expansion yet. However, the news was also met with criticism from the program's detractors.

Books in the public domain from the library's collection will be scanned and entered into the system. Copyrighted books that have not agreed to be part of the Google Book service would get background on the title, along with a few lines of the text related to the search and where the title could be purchased.

The service has already been the target of at least two lawsuits, one from the Association of American Publishers, and another from the non-profit Author's Guild. Both are attempting to block Google from copying books, and have accused it of copyright infringement.

Lawyers for the AAP called the decision "curious," especially considering the legal problems surrounding Google Book Search. Another group, called the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers told the Associated Press "we are concerned and we aren't happy," saying there was no way to tell how the information would be used.

Regardless of its critics, both UC and Google looked forward and lauded the partnership. "The academic enterprise is fundamentally about discovery," John Oakley, Chair of UC's systemwide Academic Senate said. "We contribute to it immeasurably by unlocking the wealth of information maintained within our libraries and exposing it to the latest that search technologies have to offer."

Other academic libraries participating in the program include Stanford, Michigan and Hartford. Additionally, the New York Public Library and Oxford University are also contributing portions of their collections to the effort. In a statement, University of Michigan Interim Co-University Librarian John Wilkin welcomed UC and defended the project.

"We are thrilled at the idea that another public academic library recognizes the importance of making its great collection discoverable by all who search on the web," he said. "The UC libraries have chosen, like us, to incorporate all works within their library, not just titles in the public domain."

Wilkin also said that it was important that libraries join the effort in order to promote the dissemination of knowledge worldwide. However, some analysts say that Google's intentions aren't entirely pure, so to speak.

The company sees the effort as a way to attract more vistors to its Web site, and in turn, sell more ads. Google's text-based advertising generates the lion's share of revenue for the company, and ads placed aside scanned works could help increase its profit margins.

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