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University of Chicago Library part of 12 university consortium joining Google Book Search project

June 6, 2007

The national 12-university consortium called the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) announced a collective agreement today to digitize select collections across all its libraries, up to 10 million volumes, as part of the Google Book Search project.

The CIC is a consortium of 12 research universities including University of Chicago, University of Illinois, Indiana University, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"This library digitization agreement is one of the largest cooperative actions of its kind in higher education," said CIC chairman Lawrence Dumas, provost of Northwestern University. "We have a collective ambition to share resources and work together to preserve and index the world's printed treasures."

The project will also provide broader and more in-depth access to historically significant print resources.

"We value the legacy collections built over the long histories of our libraries and want to ensure they remain accessible and discoverable in a digital age," said Mark Sandler, director of the CIC's Center for Library Initiatives. "We have a remarkable opportunity not only to preserve what easily could be lost, but to make the entirety of our print collections more accessible than ever through a simple computer search."

Google will have the opportunity to scan some of the most distinctive collections from the CIC's holdings, now over 75 million volumes. The collections are comprehensive and global in scope, such as Northwestern's Africana collection and the University of Chicago's renowned South Asia holdings. The collective library holdings also underscore the Midwest foundation of the CIC universities. "Not only will this project leverage the extraordinary breadth of our combined collections, it will reveal the rich, unique resources at each university, providing a window into the interests of university scholars and institutional strengths over the past 150-plus years," said Wendy Pradt Lougee, University Librarian at the University of Minnesota.

Examples of these collections include the University of Minnesota's Scandinavian and forestry collections, Michigan State's extensive holding in agriculture, Indiana University's folklore collection, and the history and culture of Chicago collection from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Through this agreement, Google will digitally scan and make searchable both public domain and in copyright materials in a manner consistent with copyright law. For books protected by copyright, a search will yield basic information (such as the book's title and author's name), and at most a few lines of text related to the search in addition to information about book purchase or lending. Public domain materials can be viewed, searched or downloaded for printing in their entirety from the Google site.

Google will provide the CIC with a digital copy of the public domain materials that are targeted for this project.

Two CIC member universities have pre-existing digitization agreements with Google, the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The new CIC agreement does not affect or supersede those earlier agreements but will complement and extend the digitization already underway.

As a part of the agreement, the consortium also will create a first-of-its-kind shared digital repository to collectively archive and manage the full content of public domain works digitized by Google that are held across the CIC libraries. The shared repository will give faculty and students convenient access to a large and diverse online library before housed in separate locations and connected only by online catalogs, inter-library loans policies and reciprocal borrowing agreements. This new collaboration will enable librarians to collectively archive materials over time, and allow scholars to access a vast array of material with searches customized for scholarly activity.

"In the print world, students and scholars are constrained by searching brief descriptions in card catalogs, tables of contents, and indexes. Now we can search every word in every volume, and make connections across works that would have taken weeks — even years — to make in the past," said Paula Kaufman, University Librarian at the University of Illinois. "A shared digital repository will move our distinctive public domain content from the bricks and mortar of individual libraries into one stellar digital resource available at a scholar's desktop."

The 12-university Committee on Institutional Cooperation was established almost 50 years ago as a means to aggregate resources as well as to enhance opportunities for teaching and learning. Among other activities, CIC member universities share study abroad opportunities, develop joint language offerings, and coordinate large scale collaborative projects and purchases.

"Today's announcement is an example of the cooperation necessary for higher education to remain strong and relevant in the future. Leading universities will leverage assets collectively even as we continue to build core individual competencies, and we must operate effectively in a common virtual environment," said Indiana University President Elect Michael McRobbie.

Founded in 1958 as an unincorporated association, the 12-university consortium called the Committee on Institutional Cooperation is governed by the provosts (the chief academic officers of each university), who act as a "committee of the whole" to foster inter-university collaboration.

"These universities, through their provosts and other key leaders, have worked together on some of higher education's greatest challenges and opportunities. This partnership with Google is one of the most ambitious undertakings in the history of the CIC, and sets the stage for a remarkable transformation of library services and information access. We're opening up these resources as both a common good shared among the universities, as well as a public good available more broadly," said Barbara McFadden Allen, director of the CIC.

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Last modified at 11:09 AM CST on Monday, July 23, 2007

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