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The Universal Library and Other Book Digitization Projects

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Although Google's recent announcement to digitize the contents of several large libraries got most of the press coverage, I'm glad to see that other book digitization projects (many that have been around for years) are now also getting some press attention. We mentioned several of them in our first story about Google Print library project and in this post a couple of days later.

A new article from the Hackensack Record offers more details about The Universal Library (from Carnegie Mellon University, The Internet Archive and others) and Project Gutenberg.

"Our objective is to ultimately take the works of man... digitize it and make it free to everybody," said Michael Shamos, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, which created the Universal Library.

Google Print, for example, will provide only a few lines of works published since 1923, because they are still under copyright. But the Universal Library displays the entire text of some books still under copyright.

The Universal Library will try to meet with Google to suggest cooperation. For starters, he said, Google can save itself the trouble of scanning the 100,000 books that are already part of the Universal Library's collection.

"To the extent that our books are free, then it would seem to be a waste of Google's time to redigitize those," [Michael] Shamos, [a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University] said. "They ought to go digitize other ones that we haven't gotten to -- or that we might never get to -- because they have a lot more funding than we do."

If you're interested in making use of full text books currently available online (most free) the blog post: Searching for Digital Books, offers links to several excellent databases.

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