•  ()
  •  ()
  • Print this Story
  • Email this Story

Google Project Will Create Digital Repository for Select University Library Collections

June 6, 2007

The national 12-university consortium called the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) announced a collective agreement today (June 6) to digitize select collections across all its libraries, up to 10 million volumes, as part of the Google Book Search project.  

The CIC is a consortium of 12 research universities including Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, University of Illinois, Indiana University, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

“This library digitization agreement is one of the largest cooperative actions of its kind in higher education,” said CIC chairman Lawrence B. Dumas, provost of Northwestern University. “We have a collective ambition to share resources and work together to preserve and index the world's printed treasures.”

The project will also provide broader and more in-depth access to historically significant print resources.  

“We value the legacy collections built over the long histories of our libraries and want to ensure they remain accessible and discoverable in a digital age,” said Mark Sandler, director of the CIC's Center for Library Initiatives. “We have a remarkable opportunity not only to preserve what easily could be lost, but to make the entirety of our print collections more accessible than ever through a simple computer search.”

Google will have the opportunity to scan some of the most distinctive collections from the CIC's holdings, now over 75 million volumes. The collections are comprehensive and global in scope, such as Northwestern's Africana collection and the University of Chicago's renowned South Asia holdings.

“Northwestern University has been committed to putting its holdings online since 1995, when we first digitized more than 1,200 photographs and images created during the Siege and Commune of Paris around 1871,” said Sarah Pritchard, Northwestern University Librarian.

“Since then, the University has digitized over a hundred early maps of Africa, including some dating back to 1530; the text and 2,000 photogravure images from Edward S. Curtis's famed 'The North American Indian,' and a very popular collection of more than 300 World War II posters issued by U.S. Federal agencies. Our partnership with Google will serve to more rapidly advance our efforts to share the outstanding collections that make Northwestern's library one of the largest and most comprehensive among the nation's private universities. By joining the Google digitization project, we will make large numbers of our volumes available to students, scholars and the general public.”

The collective library holdings also underscore the Midwest foundation of the CIC universities. “Not only will this project leverage the extraordinary breadth of our combined collections, it will reveal the rich, unique resources at each university, providing a window into the interests of university scholars and institutional strengths over the past 150-plus years," said Wendy Pradt Lougee, University Librarian at the University of Minnesota.

Examples of these collections include the University of Minnesota's Scandinavian and forestry collections, Michigan State's extensive holding in agriculture, Indiana University's folklore collection, and the history and culture of Chicago collection from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Through this agreement, Google will digitally scan and make searchable both public domain and in copyright materials in a manner consistent with copyright law. For books protected by copyright, a search will yield basic information (such as the book's title and author's name), and at most a few lines of text related to the search in addition to information about book purchase or lending.  Public domain materials can be viewed, searched or downloaded for printing in their entirety from the Google site.  

Google will provide the CIC with a digital copy of the public domain materials that are targeted for this project.

Two CIC member universities have pre-existing digitization agreements with Google, the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The new CIC agreement does not affect or supersede those earlier agreements but will complement and extend the digitization already underway.

As a part of the agreement, the consortium also will create a first-of-its-kind shared digital repository to collectively archive and manage the full content of public domain works digitized by Google that are held across the CIC libraries. 

The shared repository will give faculty and students convenient access to a large and diverse online library before housed in separate locations and connected only by online catalogs, inter-library loans policies and reciprocal borrowing agreements.  This new collaboration will enable librarians to collectively archive materials over time, and allow scholars to access a vast array of material with searches customized for scholarly activity.  

“In the print world, students and scholars are constrained by searching brief descriptions in card catalogs, tables of contents, and indexes.  Now we can search every word in every volume, and make connections across works that would have taken weeks - even years - to make in the past,” said Paula Kaufman, University Librarian at the University of Illinois. “A shared digital repository will move our distinctive public domain content from the bricks and mortar of individual libraries into one stellar digital resource available at a scholar's desktop.”

The 12-university Committee on Institutional Cooperation was established almost 50 years ago as a means to aggregate resources as well as to enhance opportunities for teaching and learning. Among other activities, CIC member universities share study abroad opportunities, develop joint language offerings, and coordinate large scale collaborative projects and purchases.  

“Today's announcement is an example of the cooperation necessary for higher education to remain strong and relevant in the future. Leading universities will leverage assets collectively even as we continue to build core individual competencies, and we must operate effectively in a common virtual environment,” said Indiana University President Elect Michael McRobbie.

Founded in 1958 as an unincorporated association, the 12-university consortium called the Committee on Institutional Cooperation is governed by the provosts (the chief academic officers of each university), who act as a “committee of the whole” to foster inter-university collaboration.

“These universities, through their provosts and other key leaders, have worked together on some of higher education's greatest challenges and opportunities.  This partnership with Google is one of the most ambitious undertakings in the history of the CIC, and sets the stage for a remarkable transformation of library services and information access. We're opening up these resources as both a common good shared among the universities, as well as a public good available more broadly, ” said Barbara McFadden Allen, director of the CIC.

For more information, visit:

Library Has Extensive, Notable Research Collections

The Northwestern University Library holds 4.6 million volumes, the 11th largest holdings among the nation's private universities, and serves an average of about 2,000 patrons per day.

Its extensive and notable research collections include the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies, the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, the Music Library, the Transportation Library and the Art Collection.

The Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies contains 285,000 volumes; 2,800 current serials; 250 current newspapers; 15,000 books in 300 different African languages; archival and manuscript collections; extensive collections of ephemera, maps, posters, videos and photographs; and electronic resources for the study of Africa. About 800 of the Library's 7,000 Africana posters, and 113 rare maps of Africa, have been cataloged, digitized and made accessible on the University Library Web site.

An example of Herskovits' exceptional holdings is an illustrated manuscript by Lt. George Truman Morrell. This rare work is a never-published personal account of Morrell's mid-19th-century Africa expedition up the Niger River through what is now Nigeria at the request of the British government in order to protect missionaries threatened by King Obi Akazua of Onitsha.

The Transportation Library contains over 400,000 items - one of the largest transportation information centers in the world, encompassing information on all transportation modalities, including air, rail, highway, pipeline, water, urban transport and logistics. It houses a significant collection of law enforcement, police management and traffic enforcement. Its collection of environmental impact statements is one of the most complete in the world. The holdings include monographs, reports, conference proceedings, annual reports, technical reports, environmental impact statements and over 3,300 periodicals. The formats collected encompass print, microforms, cd-roms, cassettes and videorecordings, digital files and paper ephemera. Researchers from around the world in the fields of transportation, law enforcement, business, history, environmental engineering and urban planning use the Transportation Library.

The Music Library includes over 250,000 volumes of books, printed music, sound recordings and journals; maintains subscriptions to over 400 periodicals; and provides access to a wide variety of online resources. Recognized internationally for its extensive holdings of 20th-century and contemporary music, the library acquires nearly all new publications of works composed since 1945 and purchases most new recordings of 20th-century and contemporary music.

Among the holdings of rare materials are first and early editions of treatises, libretti and printed music as well as facsimiles of manuscripts and other primary sources. Over 1,300 music manuscripts and nearly 1,000 pieces of correspondence comprise the General Manuscript Collection that represents music from the 14th century to the present. The Music Library is home to archival collections that document the work of particular composers, conductors, performers and organizations through their manuscripts, correspondence and other primary sources, including the archives of John Cage and others.

Northwestern University Library's Art Collection houses over 150,000 catalogued volumes and subscribes to 400 journals and over 20 major databases in art, architecture, design, photography and related visual arts. The Collection supports the research and curricular needs of Art History, Art Theory and Practice and other arts and humanities departments. Collection strengths include 19th- and 20th-century Western art, and holdings include unusually complete runs of architectural periodicals.

University Library Digital Collections

Northwestern University Library's digital collections to date include the following. To link to these collections, visit http://digital.library.northwestern.edu/

16th to 20th Century Maps of Africa: a site featuring digital copies of 113 antique maps of Africa and accompanying text dating from the early 16th to 20th century. All scanned maps are authentic and originally collected by Northwestern's Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies.

Africana Posters: a collection of 77 posters published in Africa and elsewhere that provides a unique resource for research in a broad range of disciplines and allows access to visual images created by governments and international agencies, as well as by political, labor, social, religious, educational and cultural organizations.

Archival collections: a database of descriptions of primary source materials in Northwestern University's libraries. Encoded “finding aids” facilitate searching of materials in the collection from University Archives, Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, Galter Health Sciences Library, the Music Library and the Herskovits Library of African Studies.

Chemical History in Chicago: essentially a road map to the history of the Chicago area's academic and industrial chemical community from the mid-19th century through the 1960s, this Web site identifies and preserves archival materials relating to chemistry and the chemical industry. It will serve as a foundation for broader collections on the history of science and technology in and around Chicago.

Chicago Homer: a multilingual database that uses the search and display capabilities of electronic texts to make the distinctive features of Early Greek epic accessible to readers with or without knowledge of Greek. In addition to all the texts of ancient Greek epic in the original Greek, Chicago Homer includes translations of Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns and of the Iliad and Odyssey.

Digital Video to Assist Chemistry Teachers and Instructors Online (DVA): this database of digital video and images of techniques and equipment used in the general chemistry laboratory is designed as a free resource to aid teachers in developing multimedia course materials.

Edward S. Curtis's “The North American Indian:” a searchable site containing all the text and 2,226 photogravure plates from “The North American Indian (1907-1930),” a set of twenty volumes and portfolios held in Northwestern's Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections. In this work, Curtis portrayed the traditional customs and lifeways of some eighty Indian tribes.

History and Politics Out Loud (HPOL): a searchable multimedia database documenting and delivering authoritative audio relevant to American history and politics.

League of Nations: Statistical and Disarmament Documents: a site containing the digitized files of 250 League publications, most of which document the League's work in international disarmament. The original publications are part of a comprehensive collection of League of Nations materials held by Northwestern.

The Paris Codex: a digitally reproduced version of a 22-page ancient Maya text containing hieroglyphics that scholars believe will add to our knowledge of pre-Columbian civilization. This digital facsimile was created using images taken from “The Codex Pérez; An Ancient Mayan Hieroglyphic Book.” The original text is housed in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.

The Siege of Paris: a collection of more than 1,200 digitized photographs and images recorded during the Siege and Commune of Paris circa 1871. In addition to the images in this set, the Library's Siege & Commune Collection contains 1500 caricatures, 68 newspapers in hardcopy and film, hundreds of books and pamphlets, and about 1,000 posters.

Vesalius: On the Fabric of the Human Body: a Web site illustrating the anatomical atlas by Andreas Vesalius dating back to the 16th century. The book's woodcut illustrations became the basis of medical art and illustration, and continue to influence the way we look at the human body.

Video Encyclopedia of the 20th Century: a collection of original film and videotape footage documenting social, political, and cultural history of the 20th century; primary source material as recorded by film and television news cameras. (Available only to members of the Northwestern University community.)

World War II Posters: a collection of more than 300 World War II posters representing the government's efforts -- through art, illustration and photographs -- to pull the American people together in a time of war.