CIC-Google FAQ

CIC-Google FAQ

Why is the Big Ten Academic Alliance entering into this Agreement?

Big Ten Academic Alliance members are partnering with Google to digitize millions of bound volumes in their library collections. This is an important step to preserve the libraries' print legacy collections, and to provide broader present-day and future users with in-depth access to historically significant print resources. The initiative will preserve in digital form deteriorating 19th century books included in this project, make historic collections more accessible to scholars, and make the ideas and references within books more discoverable through computerized "search and retrieve" capabilities.

This partnership will allow for library digitization at a scale and scope that would not be possible with the limited means available to individual universities. This partnership will allow the universities to digitize collections that would have taken hundreds of years and many millions of dollars. Beyond the scope and speed of digitization made possible by this Agreement, the libraries' intention is to build a shared digital repository to house public domain materials is a ground-breaking collaboration. The repository will allow faculty, students and the broader public to immediately access the full content of all member universities' rich array of public domain holdings digitized under the Agreement.

The Big Ten Academic Alliance has been a national model of inter-university collaboration for more than 50 years. The consortium's member universities believe the CIC library digitization initiative is an example of the kinds of cooperation--both among peers and with outside parties--needed for higher education to remain strong and relevant in the future. Leading universities will operate effectively in a common virtual environment; institutions will continue to develop individual core competencies but will also leverage their assets collectively; and universities will seek out innovative partnerships with outside entities to achieve shared goals.

What other universities are participating in the Google Book Search Project?

Other participating universities include the University of California library system, Harvard University, Stanford University, the New York Public Library, Oxford University, Princeton University, University of Texas-Austin, the University of Virginia, the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the Library of Barcelona, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Keio University in Japan, the University of Lausanne, Ghent University Library, and two members of the Big Ten Academic Alliance: University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Google is conducting a pilot project with the Library of Congress as well.

What is unique about this Agreement?

Two characteristics distinguish the Agreement from those that have come before it. This is the first time a group of independent institutions have joined in a collective approach to the Google library digitization effort. Also, as a part of this Agreement, the Big Ten Academic Alliance will build a shared digital repository. Each university will "deposit" its digitized public domain files into a commonly funded and managed data storage system so the universities can securely archive their aggregated public domain holdings collectively and provide immediate access to full content of the materials for faculty, students and the broader public. This shared digital repository will bring together the public domain holdings of some of the world's largest libraries.

How many volumes will Google digitize?

Google will digitize select collections across all the Big Ten Academic Alliance libraries, up to 10 million volumes. These totals are in addition to the volumes already being digitized by the Universities of Michigan and Wisconsin-Madison.

Which Big Ten Academic Alliance collections will be digitized?

Google will identify from across the Big Ten Academic Alliance those holdings that are unique to each institutions (i.e., those volumes that have not been previously located or digitized as part of other agreements). In consultation with university librarians, Google will identify and select Big Ten Academic Alliance collections of distinction; collecting commitments from across the institutions that are nationally recognized by librarians and scholars as deep and historically rich research collections.

 These collections of distinction could number in the hundreds across the Big Ten Academic Alliance, but are typified by such examples as Africana at Northwestern University, South Asia at the University of Chicago, folklore at Indiana University, culinary arts at the University of Iowa, the Amelia Earhart papers at Purdue University, the University of Minnesota's Scandinavia and forestry collections, Lincoln materials at the University of Illinois, turfgrass materials at Michigan State University, psychology at Ohio State and dairy science at Wisconsin.

 The collections reflect the efforts of the individual libraries to support each university's mission, their faculties' global academic interests, as well as regional histories of the universities' home states. In a digital world, these complementary strengths can be brought together to provide users with one-stop access to rich and diverse resources that were previously difficult to discover and access.

Will books in multiple languages be included?

Yes. The consortium's libraries hold books in more than 300 languages, and approximately 40% of the collections are non-English.

Will each university's individual contribution be identified in some way?

Information about the source library for digital content is provided in Google Book Search, and it will be maintained and identifiable in the shared Big Ten Academic Alliance respository.

Does the Agreement include both public domain and in-copyright works?

Yes. The digitization initiative will include both public domain and in-copyright materials in a manner consistent with copyright law.

 For books in the public domain, readers will be able to read, download, and print full texts from the Google site. In addition, the consortium will build a shared digital repository for all digitized public domain materials so the holdings can be collectively archived and made available to faculty, students and the broader public.

 For books protected by copyright, users will just get basic background (such as the book's title and the author's name), at most a few lines of text related to the search, and information about where they can buy or borrow the book. If publishers or authors do not want to have their books digitized, Google will exclude them.

What materials are in the "public domain?"

For users in the United States, the Google Books Library project treats all their books published prior to 1923 as in the public domain, as well as many publications to which no copyright was attached in the first instance, such as federal, state and local government documents. To be sure there are categories of U.S. material that have entered the public domain, but due to the evolving status covering copyright over the past century, it is difficult to summarize all the possible factors used to determine the status of a particular work.

Does Google or the universities own the copyright to a work once it is scanned?

No. Copyright holders maintain copyright over their work and public domain works remain in the public domain.

Will the Big Ten Academic Alliance universities receive copies of public domain and in-copyright materials?

Google will provide the Big Ten Academic Alliance universities with a digital copy of the public domain materials that are scanned in conjunction with this project. As for in-copyright material, Google has agreed to store these on behalf of the Big Ten Academic Alliance until such time as certain stipulated release conditions are met. For these files kept in escrow, Google has agreed to pay the costs of developing a secure server to inventory, hold and manage these files on behalf of the Big Ten Academic Alliance.

 This Agreement does not supercede the pre-existing terms and agreements Google has made with the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which may have agreed to different strategies for handling scanned files.

How will the files returned by Google be stored?

The Big Ten Academic Alliance, acting on behalf of its member universities, entered into an agreement with the Hathi Trust, a digital repository administered by the University of Michigan and Indiana University, for securing digital files created by Google or other sources.  The Hathi infrastructure is a robust and secure environment for making content accessible in the short term, while ensuring its archival fidelity for the long term.  Hathi currently holds over two million digital volumes, and will continue to grow with the advance of Google digitization, as well through deposit of files by other digitization partners and member libraries. 

How will copyrighted works be handled?

Copyrighted works will be made available for digitization through this Agreement. The full content will be indexed and made searchable through Google Book Search, and a few "snippets" of text will be displayed when a match with a search term occurs. Book Search users will be directed to an online bookstore to purchase a copy of the work, or to the library to consult or borrow the book. Google will hold the digitized file of the copyrighted works in escrow for the Big Ten Academic Alliance, and will cover the costs of housing and managing these files in a secure storage system. The works will be released to the Big Ten Academic Alliance universities as the files fall into public domain, as agreements are reached with authors or publishers for the use of the files, or as case law further clarifies their status.

When will the project begin?

Project planning will begin immediately, and scanning to begin soon after.

Will Google scan the books on each campus? If not, where will the books be scanned and how?

Big Ten Academic Alliance library materials will be digitized at one or more of Googles scanning centers in the U.S. Since the advent of the library digitization program in 2004, Google has demonstrated its ability to ship library materials in a quick and secure manner.

How long will the project take to complete?

This is a six-year agreement, with opportunity for renewal.

How good is the scanning?

For the vast majority of books in the Google Book Search index, the quality of the scanned pages is extremely good, but that doesn't mean there's not more work to be done. Google has developed technology to scan millions of books at a scale and pace previously unimaginable. The company is continually improving the technology and methods used to scan book pages and to process the images into format viewed by users. As the project addresses the vast majority of pressing preservation problems facing larger libraries, it will allow us to focus attention and resources on works that require special handling.

How will Google scan each book? Can the public view the process?

Google has developed proprietary scanning technology for this project. Google does not permit public access to scanning facilities.

Will Google scan rare books, and how?

Inclusion of rare books is not assumed by the Agreement, but neither are these materials explicitly excluded from consideration.

Will scanning harm the books?

No. Google developed innovative technology to scan the content without harming the books. Any book deemed too fragile will not be scanned by Google, but may be treated by expert library staff. Once scanned, all print volumes are returned to the library collections.

How will redundancies among the collections be addressed?

Google will digitize unique volumes in these collections. Google will provide the Big Ten Academic Alliance with a digital copy of all public domain materials in the Big Ten Academic Alliance collections that are targeted for this project.

Are books going to be unavailable while they are being scanned?

A book will be unavailable for a short period of time in which it is being scanned; however, Google will do everything possible to minimize the time out of circulation.

How will the project be funded?

Google assumes the cost of digitization, and directly related expenses such as shipping. The libraries will assume the costs of preparing the material for shipping, including the technical processing before and after digitization. Prior to the Google Book Library initiative, libraries estimated their costs of digitization at approximately $100 per volume. Hence, the value of this project at the anticipated level of volume is measured in the hundreds of millions.

Will the universities receive any financial benefit from this arrangement?

The universities will receive no direct financial compensation from this Agreement.

Is this an exclusive agreement with Google?

No, this is a non-exclusive Agreement.

When did Google first launch the Google Library Project?

Google announced its first library partnership in 2004 with the University of Michigan, Stanford University, Harvard University, Oxford University and the New York Public Library.

Does the Google Book Search Project comply with copyright law?

Yes. The counsels from all the CIC universities believe the Google Book Search is fully consistent with the fair use doctrine under U.S. copyright law, as is the participation of our campuses.

Can I use Google Book Search now?

Yes, currently there are more than a million books available to search in Google Book Search.

Does Google display ads on books being scanned from the libraries?

No. There are currently no advertisements on the books that are scanned from a library. Please visit the About Google Book Search to see more about how library books will be displayed:

Does Google track the books I read?

Google Book Search uses the existing cookie to determine how much book content to display. Google does not rent, sell or share what pages a  user has viewed with third parties for any purpose without the user's permission or as described in the Google privacy policy printed at:

Where can I go to see a book scanned from a library?

For examples and screenshots, go to:

Why is it important to digitize library holdings?

The role of archiving and preserving the vast spectrum of written materials is a critical one for university libraries. In a world marked with ever-quickening change, libraries take the long view--century after century. Over time many works become out-of-print, or deteriorate with age, or are threatened by natural disasters or societal upheavals. Digitization enables us to preserve these works for all time. And, as we move to a completely technological and digital environment, materials not available in a digital format will become less and less discoverable and less relevant to scholars, students and the public. Finally, digitalization of the world's printed material will democratize information: anyone, anywhere in the world with access to the Internet can have access to the world's printed treasures.

Will this affect how libraries collect and preserve printed materials?

This initiative is unlikely to have much effect on the print acquisition policies of Big Ten Academic Alliance university libraries, but will extend available options for management of the large print legacy collections. Given the opportunity provided by this partnership to assure some level of intellectual access to content in deteriorating print format, the libraries can now refine their decision-making and priorities for higher levels of content preservation and conservation of print artifacts.

What about security concerns in a digital environment?

Universities and their libraries take very seriously the security of digital resources, and honoring their contractual obligations to limit unauthorized use or access to digital content and environment. Stringent system level security and rights management control are built into the operation of library systems, and will be employed as part of this initiative including the creation of the consortium's shared digital repository.

Google Book Search Update (October 2008)

Has digitization of Big Ten Academic Alliance holdings begun?

Indiana University is first under the Big Ten Academic Alliance Agreement to provide content to Google.  IU has been provided a list of titles in their collection that have not yet been designated for scanning from the collections of other Google library partners.  The school successfully sent its first shipment in August 2008, and continues now with monthly shipments.    

Have Google and the authors/publishers settled their lawsuit?

A settlement agreement has been filed with the District Court, but there is a lengthy review process to be undertaken, and opportunity for parties to the suit to raise issues about the proposed settlement.

Is the Big Ten Academic Alliance supporting the settlement agreement between Google and the authors/publishers?

The Big Ten Academic Alliance universities are aware of the terms of the Settlement Agreement filed with the U.S. District Court and are working as a community to fully understand the impact on our 2007 Agreement with Google. We want to ensure that the original project goals endorsed by the Big Ten Academic Alliance will continue to be supported and advanced.   In the meanwhile, scanning at Indiana and elsewhere can continue uninterrupted under the terms of the Big Ten Academic Alliance’s 2007 Agreement.

How will the Big Ten Academic Alliance members address the settlement?

A Steering Team has been designated by the Provosts to represent the Big Ten Academic Alliance’s collective interests with regard to the settlement.  The Steering Team will include representatives of Big Ten Academic Alliance Library Directors, Counsels, and Provosts.