Google Digitization Project

The University Libraries, in partnership with Google and through a joint agreement with the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC, a consortium of the Big 10 institutions plus the University of Chicago) is sending monographs (books) and serials (periodicals) to be scanned and made searchable and, depending on copyright status, available online. CIC members are partnering with Google to digitize millions of volumes in their library collections. This is an important step to ensure access to the libraries' print collections.

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—that will further access to the collective resources held in our libraries. The Google project, coupled with programs to coordinate preservation of print collections, offers promise for effective and sustained access to library collections in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What if the book I want now is checked out to Google?

If you are a current student, staff, or faculty member, and another copy is held in the University Libraries, you can request it through the Get It service. If the item is not available in the Libraries, we will obtain another copy for you from Interlibrary Loan (most interlibrary loan requests are filled within 5-10 days).

Q: How many works will be digitized?

The University Libraries will digitize and archive more than 1 million volumes (books and bound journals) from the general collections over the course of the program, which is expected to take at least two years.

Q: When will the University of Minnesota materials appear online?

Books from the collection will be added to Google Books as they are scanned. This usually takes between two and five weeks.
Google Books now: All volumes will be fully searchable, but only some will be fully readable online. There are three varieties for viewing books in Google:

    • Full text online (books in the public domain—generally, those published before 1923).
    • Limited preview (if the author or publisher has given permission).
    • Snippets (shows your search terms in context only).

See Google Books for examples.

The future of Google Books: Google had reached an agreement as part of a class action suit with publishers and authors that would have permitted individuals to read the entire text of a large proportion of books that are in copyright but out of print. On March 22, 2011, that settlement was rejected by Judge Denny Chin of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Read our statement on that ruling.

The HathiTrust: Google Books will also provide participating libraries with copies of the digital files created through the project. These digital files will be archived in the HathiTrust, a non-profit shared digital repository launched by the CIC with an ever-expanding number of supporting institutions. Browse volumes provided by Minnesota to HathiTrust.

Q: What will happen to the original books?

Google will return the print copies of the books sent for scanning to the source libraries for return to the collections.

Q: Who is funding this project?

Google provides for the cost of scanning, transportation, and the digital infrastructure; the University Libraries is responsible for the cost of retrieving the volumes and returning them to the stacks.

Q: What if I have other questions?

Please contact communications director Marlo Welshons.