In 2004, Oxford University entered into partnership with Google to scan the Bodleian Libraries' out-of-copyright holdings, in particular those from the 19th century. We were one of the original "big five" institutions to sign-up to Google's Library Partnership Project, and the first from outside the US. The initial phase of this work completed in the summer of 2009, with several hundred thousand of our books being scanned and made available via Google Books (http://books.google.com/).
Items were selected solely on their copyright status and suitability for scanning, and the works that have been digitized cover a wide range of languages, disciplines, and genres. They include the first English translation of Newton's "Mathematical principles of natural philosophy" from 1729, the first edition of Jane Austen's "Emma", and John Cassell's "Illustrated history of England".
Bibliographically, we have chosen to maintain a close connection between the digitized copy and the physical copy from which it was scanned.
1. A search on our principal resource discovery service, SOLO will normally produce a list of "brief-display" results. If there is a digitized copy associated with a record, as in this example, a line will be added saying:
*** Digitized copy available - see Details tab for link ***
2. Clicking on the title of a bibliographic record found in SOLO or on its Details tab will display the whole record. If the digitized version is available, it will be indicated by a link on the right-hand side saying: View digitized copy of... followed by the name of the holding library and the shelfmark of the physical copy that was scanned. Clicking on this link will download the file.
3. Alternatively, use the View Online tab. If there is a single digitized copy, it will be downloaded immediately. Otherwise you will be shown the digitized copies available as here.
4. Should you actually want to consult the physical item itself, then select the Locations tab to see where the item is held, loan status and whether or not you can order it or place a hold on it. (You need to be signed in to place a request.)
5. If you wish to limit your search results to records with digitized copies, look for the Collection facet on the left-hand side of the page and, if Digitized Copies is listed, select to refine your results.
At present, the PDF files contain scanned images only. They have not been OCRed (i.e. had the images converted to machine-readable text) and therefore you cannot search for words within them, nor cut and paste text from them. Full-text searchable versions may be available from Google Books (http://books.google.com/books or http://books.google.co.uk/books ).
Many of the books digitized are large, and the PDFs are correspondingly large. About 18% of them are currently more than 100MBs. On a fast network, such as that within the University of Oxford, this should not be a problem, with most files downloading in tens of seconds, and the largest in a minute or so. But you should be warned that with slow connections, the large files make take minutes, so please be patient. The Acrobat PDF Reader plugin used by many web browsers reports the size of a file immediately and then shows the progress of the download.
There is an issue with the scanned Google books and Chrome and Firefox browsers. If you use Internet Explorer you should not experience any problems. The issue means that the cover sheet is followed by only blank pages. A workaround is to change the way the browser views PDF files:
- For Firefox, go to Options, then Applications, in the list of Content types find "Portable Document Format (PDF)" and then select Adobe Reader (Default) in the drop-down list.
- For Chrome, go to: chrome://plugins. Click on "Disable" under "Chrome PDF viewer" and tick the box for "Always allowed" under "Adobe Reader".
Another option is to download the PDF and save it on your computer for viewing later with a suitable PDF reader. Adobe provides the free Acrobat Reader for most computer platforms at http://get.adobe.com/uk/reader/.
We welcome your feedback, which we trust will help us improve this service. We also welcome your reports of any errors in the downloaded files, such as illegible or missing pages. We may not be able to supply corrected pages in the short term, but the information we collect will help us to plan for doing so in the future. Thank you for your feedback!
Please email your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
DJP/20.2.2012; rev. 17.6.2015