Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the University of Virginia/Google Book Library Project
The University of Virginia Library has partnered with Google to make selected books from the Library’s collections searchable online. For books in the public domain, full-text copies will be available at no charge through Google Book Search. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about this partnership.
Why did the U.Va. Library decide to join the project?
The U.Va. Library has long (in Internet years) been a pioneer in digitizing public domain works so they can be available online. Since 1992 we have created several thousand public domain “e-texts” and made them accessible through our digital collections. Our collections are especially strong in American history, literature, and the humanities.
We are happy to join the group of major libraries participating in the Google Book Search project. This project will continue our orginal aim to digitally preserve hundreds of thousands of texts from the University’s important collections. Many of these materials are out of print and hard to find. For those materials in the public domain, Google will make those works fully viewable through their website, and U.Va. will receive digital preservation copies of all our contributed works.
As a research library, our goal is to connect people with materials, and keep them preserved and accessible. The relationship with Google fits with that goal.
Why did Google want to partner with the University of Virginia?
As one of the oldest research libraries in the country, the U.Va. Library contains more than five million books, 17 million manuscripts, rare books and archives, and rapidly-growing digital collections. The U.Va. Library is known in particular for its strength in American history and literature.
What other libraries are involved in this project?
Other research libraries involved in this project include Harvard, the New York Public Library, Oxford, and the University of Michigan. The current list of all partners is available on the Google site.
When will this partnership start?
The partnership began in November 2006 and has an initial term of six-years (through 2012).
How many books are involved?
The Library has 5.1 million books in total. All of these will be under consideration for digitization.
How will Google and U.Va. handle in-copyright works?
Both Google and U.Va. are very respectful of copyright law. Neither partner will make full text versions of in-copyright materials available to the public.
Google has specifically designed Book Search to comply with copyright laws. Anyone will be able to freely view, browse, and read public domain books. For books protected by copyright, users will just see basic background (such as the book’s title and the author’s name), at most a few lines of text related to their search, and information about where they can buy or borrow a book. If publishers or authors don’t want to have their books digitized, they will be excluded.
Who is funding this project?
Google pays for the cost of digitization. U.Va. will be responsible for the costs to pull and re-shelve the digitized books.
What does U.Va get in return?
Google provides digital files of these works to U.Va. These files will be useful as preservation copies; if the physical book gets lost or damaged in the future, we have a digital copy of it.
How does this project help U.Va. faculty and students?
The U.Va. Library is here to support research, teaching, and learning at U.Va and in the broader academic community. This project will make even more books available for these purposes.
In the past, we worked to digitize public domain books as quickly as we could to support scholarship and teaching needs, but faculty would still have to wait and the book(s) they needed in digital form weren’t always easy or fast to obtain. This project will bring additional materials to classroom teaching and research at the University.
How does this project help people outside of U.Va.?
The materials that Google digitizes from the U.Va. Library collection will be included in Google Book Search, so anyone can discover and use them.
The project also increases the discoverability of these books, both public domain and in copyright. While people will not be able to get the full texts of in-copyright works that they discover on Google Book Search, they will be able to buy the book, or borrow it through a library.
Finally, physical books can be vulnerable, no matter when they were published. This project will help preserve library resources for future generations.
Is digitizing going to harm the physical books?
Google has made an extraordinary commitment of research and technology to ensure the books are not damaged. Since the project involves only those books that are part of our regular circulating collection, we are talking about works we lend out every day. Any time you check out a book, you run the risk of damaging it. That’s a reality of offering access to collections. We have confidence in Google’s expertise and experience in handling physical and digital texts.
Where will the books be digitized?
Books will be digitized at a secure facility run by Google and approved by U.Va.
The books I need are not on the shelf. What can I do?
If you don't find the book you're looking for, the Library can borrow it from another library. To do this, please visit the service desk in any Library or use the "Requests" tab in Virgo.
What other big digitization projects is the U.Va. Library involved in?
We also we routinely participate in grant projects with other institutions, such as the “American West” project with the California Digital Library. In addition, the U.Va. Library is one of the five library participants in the CLOCKSS project, a joint project of libraries and more than 15 major publishers to determine a model for preserving electronic journals.
We believe that the future of research libraries is collaboration so we can ensure broad access to and preservation of world knowledge. The U.Va. Library is an active participant in that future.
I heard you revised your original agreement with Google.
A revised agreement was signed in February 2010. You can read the revised agreement between U.Va. and Google. You can also read the agreement between U.Va. and the Registry (a “clearinghouse for administration of the rights of Rightsholders under the revised settlement agreement”) and a letter in support of the agreement from University Librarian Karin Wittenborg to Judge Denny Chin.
What’s the difference between the old agreement and the new one?
The revised agreement brings our partnership in line with requirements of the proposed settlement between the authors and publishers and Google.
Where can I go to see a book digitized by Google?
You can see examples and screenshots here: http://books.google.com/googlebooks/library.html
For more information, visit Google Book Press Release
"Since 1992, the U.Va. Library has been making public domain works freely available online. Scholars tell us that we have made it possible to ask new questions because these works are available digitally. With Google, we will be able to offer access to many more texts. For example, 18th- and 19th-century works that are rarely found can be discovered by new audiences."
- Karin Wittenborg, University Librarian
Let us know what you think. Send feedback on U.Va./Google Book Search.