UW-Madison expands agreement with Google

July 9, 2009 By John Lucas

The University of Wisconsin–Madison has expanded its agreement with Google to digitize books from UW–Madison’s collection and make them available online.

The expanded partnership, completed on July 8, enables the university to broaden public access to its collection in new ways. It is made possible by the settlement Google signed with a broad class of authors and publishers last year.

“Our original project with Google was undertaken in the spirit of the Wisconsin Idea — UW’s commitment to making useful information and knowledge available beyond the confines of the university,” says Ken Frazier, director of the UW-Madison Libraries. “Now, our new agreement will promote equitable access to knowledge even further by giving every student in the U.S. access to the same books, whether they’re on campus or not.”

The combined library holdings of UW–Madison and the Wisconsin Historical Society make up one of the largest collections of documents and historical materials in the United States. In 2006, UW–Madison and Google announced a partnership to digitize these collections and make them available far beyond the university’s boundaries.

To date, more than 200,000 works have been digitized over two years.

The university digitized the entire collection of genealogical materials from the Wisconsin Historical Society. The Historical Society’s Native American collection and its African American collection are in the process of being digitized. These unique collections were chosen because they are used heavily by schools throughout the state, and their online availability ensures greater access to the public.

Through Google’s pending settlement with authors and publishers and the new agreement with UW–Madison, readers and researchers will be able to preview portions of UW–Madison’s in-copyright and out-of-print books for free and buy online access to the full texts of such books.

In addition, universities, colleges and public libraries throughout the U.S. will be able to offer their students and patrons access to UW–Madison’s rich collections through institutional subscriptions to the books contained in the institutional subscription database. Every public and university library in the U.S. will be able to receive one free public-access license to provide free, full-text online viewing of millions of out-of-print books at designated computers in each of their buildings.

With this new agreement, UW–Madison can continue to fulfill its goal of making vast amounts of historical content freely available to serve Wisconsin’s citizens and the academic community at large, Frazier says.

For public-domain works, UW–Madison will be able to share digital copies for research or scholarly or academic purposes with academic institutions, research and public libraries. The university will also play an important role in safeguarding the public’s access to the millions of books Google has digitized.

“The agreement with authors and publishers stands to unlock access to millions of books,” says Dan Clancy, engineering director of Google Books. “We’re thrilled that the University of Wisconsin will continue to expand access to the tremendous wealth of information held in its collections.”