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June 6, 2007

Purdue joins consortium's historic digitization agreement with Google

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University's collection of library works in agriculture, engineering, science, and hospitality and tourism will soon be conveniently available around the globe.

As a member of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, Purdue announced Wednesday (June 6) that it, along with Indiana University, has joined each of the other Big Ten universities and the University of Chicago in an agreement with Google to scan selected library holdings into one digital repository. The materials to be digitized are from areas that each university considers its richest library collections.

The agreement means that people worldwide can find these library materials without leaving their own computers. Books that are not copyrighted will be available in digital form in their entirety. For a book under copyright protection, a search will result in basic background, such as its title and author's name, and a few lines of the text surrounding the term.      

"Even though millions of volumes owned by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation libraries will be scanned, the only ones that will be full-text accessible and viewable will be those in the public domain (pre-1923)," said James Mullins, dean of Libraries at Purdue. "Materials covered by copyright (post-1923) will be full-text searchable through 'snippets,' similar to a catalog or an index. If the full-text item is desired, it must be retrieved from a library or purchased through a bookstore."

Aside from highlighting the interests and missions of the universities in a world that is becoming increasingly virtual, the project will preserve deteriorating 19th-century book collections, officials with the committee say. It also will make historic collections more accessible and relevant to scholars and students, and make the ideas and references within books easier to retrieve.

"The collaborative project entered into by the libraries of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation will enhance the research of not only the students and faculty of the institutions, but will provide the entire world with access to the millions of volumes held by the these libraries," Purdue Provost Sally Mason said.

Other universities are participating individually in Google's digitization. However, this marks the first time that a group of independent institutions have joined in a collective approach to the Google library digitization approach, according to the Committee on Institutional Cooperation.

An estimated 4 million to 7 million volumes will be digitized, with the potential for up to 10 million to be done. Mullins said Purdue could contribute as many as 500,000 to 750,000 volumes.

Google has several scanning centers across the United States and abroad, and the library materials will be shipped to one or more of these centers in various stages. The agreement calls for Google to have the books back within three weeks. While books are out, Mullins said, people will still be able to request copies of what they need through the interlibrary loan program.

Google will cover costs for transporting and digitizing the materials, as well as creating a "host site" of the group's digital content.

About the Committee on Institutional Cooperation

The Committee on Institutional Cooperation is a consortium of the 11 Big Ten universities and the University of Chicago. It was founded in 1958 and is governed by the provosts at each university, who act as a committee. It is headquartered in Champaign, Ill., and is funded by dues paid by each university. With campuses in eight states, the committee's universities enroll more than 300,000 undergraduates and 76,000 graduate students.

Writer: Jim Bush, (765) 494-2077,

Sources: James Mullins, (765) 494-2900,

Sally Mason, (765) 494-9709,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Note to journalists: Rachel Schurz from Purdue University Libraries will be available Wednesday (June 6) to take media calls and interview requests. To reach her, call (765) 496-3294, or e-mail . The Committee on Institutional Cooperation and Google will have a media availability conference call at noon eastern time. The number to call is (866) 325-3080. The conference code is 217330133. A release from the Committee on Institutional Cooperation and Google is available at

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