Google’s Book Scanning Project: What You Need to Know

Google has long been known to initiate several revolutionary projects that change the way we look at (digital) information. Making research library publications written works available to the public is one of them, a vision that Google Books Library Project wishes to share with everyone.

What is Google Books Library Project?

Google Books Library Project is a technical and expansive large-scale project that aims to make data from major research libraries around the world searchable online. In its most basic form, it helps users gain access to specific academic publications that would otherwise require a more direct (physical) access to where the information is archived and kept. For instance, it allows information from those publications to be available in more basic ‘packets,’ for users to directly and conveniently extract information from, anywhere around the world.

How did the project come to be?

Google Books Library Project started, in embryonic form, with Google Books in 2004. This ‘precursor’ project began the general idea of scanning and uploading millions of different publications from different sources. Google Books Library Project took the next logical step very shortly after, moving from standard literary media onto more specific publications: the content archives of the world’s research libraries. For many years afterward, the project has expanded from its initial scanning of 7 million books, and it is still continuing to provide relevant material for users around the world to access online.

Is it worth using?

So far, the project has endured more than eight years of fighting various copyright-related lawsuits from different groups of authors and publishers, and it is still ongoing as of 2015. However, the more pressing issue is the content presented by the project itself. Google Books Library Project has long been heavily criticized because of the poor scanning quality of some of the digitized pages, a fact that is crucial to the assessment of its system’s overall usability. Critics argue that the presence of these errors can technically render entire online research materials unusable. Nevertheless, its massive database still offers a huge amount of data to explore and is certainly a significant first search option simply due to its immediate online availability.

How can I use it?

To use the contents made available by the Google Books Library Project, simply access Google Books, and look for the particular research library material that you need. Any accessible book can be digitally presented in any orientation or visual representation that is available to most Google Books entries by default. Take note that unlike regular publications in Google Books, copyrighted material from the project will only allow a view of snippets and other limited information. Users would still have to purchase the book properly from other sources should they require full access to its contents (which may or may not have its availability issues). However, if the book becomes out of copyright, full online digital access would usually be automatically available, either for online reading or download and local use.

Christian Crisostomo
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