Oxford-Google digitization project reaches milestone

26 March 2009

bookpileThe Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford is pleased to announce that this summer will see the completion of the first phase of the Oxford-Google digitization partnership project. For the first time a large proportion of Oxford’s 19th century out-of-copyright holdings will be made easily accessible to a new generation of readers around the globe.

The Library’s partnership with Google started in 2004, making Oxford the first European partner in this mass-digitization project. The initiative is part of the Oxford University Libraries’ ongoing commitment to enhance access to their vast and unique collections for the researchers at all levels worldwide. The Oxford-Google partnership aims to make available many hundreds of thousands of books from the Bodleian and other Oxford libraries, representing a major contribution to the public domain content available through Google Book Search.

The works digitized include titles in English, German, Spanish French, and many other languages – from classic literature to scientific volumes in fields such as Geography, Philosophy, and Anthropology. Examples of works now available through Book Search include:

The full text of these works can be searched and read on Google Book Search, and readers can download and print a copy in PDF format, where local copyright laws permit.

The agreement between Google and Oxford covers only 'public domain' materials, i.e. printed books for which the UK copyright has expired. The digitization leads to the creation of two digital copies of each book: one for Google, and one for Oxford. The Google copy is fully indexed and searchable through the Google Book Search service, while the Oxford copy will, in due course, be made available from the Library’s website.

Talking about the digitization programme, Dr Sarah Thomas, Bodley's Librarian and Director of Oxford University Library Services said:  'Library users have always loved browsing books for the serendipitous discoveries they provide. Digital books offer a similar thrill, but on multiple levels - deep entry into the texts or the ability to browse the virtual shelf of books assembled from the world's great libraries.'

Ben Bunnell, Manager, Book Search Library Partnerships, said: ‘With most of Oxford's 19th century public domain works now digitized and available to users online, we look forward to continuing our partnership with Oxford to digitize more content as it becomes available and to working together to bring more books to more people in more languages around the world.’

Having material available in electronic form also opens up new possibilities for scholarly research and teaching. It offers academics the opportunity to go beyond simply accessing texts, for example using computers to analyse content across multiple authors, periods, and genres.

For this reason the Bodleian Library is endeavouring to make its collections, books, ephemera and other material available in digital format by working in collaboration with other partners including ProQuest, ARTstor, and the Alexander Street Press.

Examples of Bodleian digital collections:

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