University of Wisconsin: Google's Newest Library Partnership

Dennis Faas's picture

Announced last week, the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) is the newest post-secondary institution to join Google's controversial library project -- a venture that strives to provide user access to various library collections and digital reference materials.

The project, dubbed Google Book Search, utilizes the same technology as the company's main search engine and allows users to wade through millions of publications by searching for a particular phrase or topic.

Google's project was launched last year with five renowned libraries participating: Harvard University, Stanford University, the New York Public Library, and Oxford University. Wisconsin-Madison now joins these distinguished partners and the joint-venture plans to provide access to "hundreds of thousands of public and historical materials" from the institution's library's and from the Wisconsin Historical Society. (Source:

Libraries Becoming Digitized

The U of W-Madison has been working on digitizing their library collections "for the past six years," says UW Library Acting Director, Edward Van Gemert. "The Google project extends that at a pace ... so much faster than what we've been able to do." (Source:

The UW collections characterize one of the largest collected works of American historical and government documents. The documents that will be made available through Google will be selected from over 7.2 million library-owned materials.

The majority of the content that will be made available to Google users by the UW will focus on collections that give histories in regard to medicine, patents, engineering, as well as the early publications of scientific societies. The content will also feature genealogical materials and Wisconsin history, among other subjects. (Source:

Google Defends the Project

In recent months, Google has taken some heat (and a lawsuit) for its Book Search feature and its possible infringement of copyright laws.

Although some critics have equated Google Book Search to controversial file sharing networks (for instance Napster), representatives from both Google and the UW disagree.

Google spokeswoman Megan Lamb said, "We're not giving away any books for free unless they are in the public domain, free of copyright." Lamb noted that the difference between Google Books Search and illegal file-sharing networks is that Google does not provide the copyrighted materials for free but allows users to access them at a cost.

Lamb added that Google's goal is to "help users find more and more books. We want to work with the University of Wisconsin libraries to use their books in the program." (Source:

Rate this article: 
No votes yet