The University of California tested a new Google software that allows users to gain greater access to millions of books and records from UC and other libraries throughout the nation Mar. 13.
Through a partnership between the UC and Google in August 2006, books from the UC libraries were scanned and made available to the public through Google Book Search. Users can view and download entire non-copyrighted books online at no cost. For copyrighted books, users are given background information on the book, are shown ideas of where to buy or borrow and can search within the book to evaluate its content.
According to the California Digital Library (CDL), the UC has one of the largest research libraries in the world.
Melvyl, the UC-wide union library catalog, contains more than 30,000,000 records, including books, journals, movies and music held by libraries of the 10 University of California campuses, the California State Library and many other libraries, said Patricia Martin, representative from the UC Office of the President, in an e-mail.
The CDL, on behalf of the UC, was asked by Google to participate in an alpha program that allows Google library partners to link easily and reliably to books in Google Book Search from their library catalogs, she said.
Google’s other library partners include Harvard, Stanford, New York Public Library and the University of Michigan.
The UC and Google, along with many other partners, have been involved in an ongoing program to mass digitize many books in library collections, Martin said.
The UC has contributed many books to this project, and now we will be able to see the results of all of our efforts in a tool that is widely used throughout the UC, she said.
The new software will provide the UC community with a direct link from Melvyl to Google Book Search and allow users to access any digitized book from any of Google’s partners.
This means the library’s patrons, whether in the library or online at home, can preview the book immediately via Google Book Search from one of the places where they’re doing their research – the UC library catalog, she said.
The new software will be convenient and beneficial for students, said Christina Boykin, junior economics major.
You don’t have to be at the library all the time, Boykin said. You can be at home at 3 a.m. and still do your research.
There are no direct costs to UC other than the labor of making the material available for digitization, said Ivy Anderson, director of collectionfor CDL.
The UC is deriving great benefits from their partnership with Google, she said.
By having the full text digitized, it’s possible to trace evolution of ideas and statistical text tool analysis, she said.
Digitization of books may also prevent catastrophic loss in the future, Anderson said.
Tens of thousands of books in the public domain are brittle, printed on acid-rich paper and are crumbling to dust, according to the CDL website.
The exact number of books currently available has not been determined, but there is potential for millions of books to be scanned from the UC libraries. Available books can be found on books.google.com.
The new Google software is still in its pilot stage, but links to the Google Book Search may soon be available on Melvyl.
For more information about the mass digitization partnership between UC and Google, go to cdlib.org/news/google.html.
THUY TRAN can be reached at email@example.com.