Millionth book scanned to digital in project

Millionth book scanned to digital in project

URBANA – One million books, many of them rare and difficult to find, are now digitally available and searchable, thanks to a consortium that includes the University of Illinois.

Book whose copyrights have expired (books before 1923 especially) are fully on line; in-copyright books can be searched but not always read in full, said Kim Armstrong, a UI library school graduate and Deputy Director of the Center for Library Initiatives at a consortium of large Midwestern universities.

Google Books is working with the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, the Big Ten schools plus University of Chicago, with a goal (for now) of 10 million volumes from member libraries, and passed the million mark just this month.

They range from government publications to historical documents to works of agriculture and engineering.

"Or you could just read a novel online," Armstrong said.

Under the terms of the agreement, Google is scanning some of the most distinctive collections from CIC libraries and their 79 million volumes. They are translated from image to text with optical character recognition technology, then shipped home.

Armstrong noted that Indiana has a strong folklore collection, and Illinois is particularly strong in Slavic languages, both of which are featured in the Google project.

Armstrong said the Midwestern universities have great strengths in agriculture, engineering and transportation, among others.

CIC libraries (including Michigan and Wisconsin) own more book volumes (82 million) than the University of California system (34 million) and the Ivy League (68.8 million), Armstrong said.

The Urbana campus is just gearing up on the Google project, said Betsy Kruger, head of Digital Content Creation at the UI, but has been in the field for about a decade.

The Urbana campus is also a member of the Open Content Alliance.

That project has digitized 25,397 volumes since 2007, Kruger said.

The volumes are taken from Illinois strengths: the state's history, culture and natural resources; railroad history; rural studies and agriculture; works in translation; as well as other extensive collections.

The UI Library is also working with the Field Museum, scanning all publications in the museum's Fieldiana series of monographs and scientific papers in anthropology, botany, geology and zoology.

A convenient way to access the Google collection, Armstrong said, is through the HathiTrust,, which has multiple ways to search the books.

HathiTrust is an international community of research libraries committed to saving and making available the records of our culture, according to its web site.

Armstrong said the CIC became Google's 16th Library Project partner in June 2007.

Google Books has partnered with more than 40 libraries and scanned more than 15 million books worldwide, she said.

Now, thanks to Google and CIC, you can read online "An Unwritten Account of a Spy of Washington," published in 1892.

"The hero of the following sketch was the grandfather of John H. Armstrong (the H standing for Honeyman), who was born in Somerset County, N. J." the introduction tells us about the spy.

The author notes that "there are doubtless many persons in the state of New Jersey" who will enjoy the Revolutionary War spy tale.