BY BRIAN TENGEL
Published December 1, 2006
Although all of the books in the University's libraries haven't yet been digitized by Google, students can search those that have.
Yesterday afternoon, Ben Bunnell, the library partnership manager of Google Book Search, and Perry Willett, head of the University's digital library production service, spoke in West Hall about how students can take advantage of the progress of the project to make books searchable online.
They showed a crowd of about 50 how to use the features of the book search available so far.
To access the site, students can go through Mirlyn - the University's library catalog - or through Google Book Search at books.google.com.
Through Mirlyn, they can search the volumes of books that have been uploaded so far from University libraries. In one recent week, about 30,000 books were uploaded.
MBooks provides the full text of books, but only for those in the public domain or lacking a copyright, like government documents. In order to scan copyrighted works, MBooks must ask permission from the copyright holder. Without their consent, readers can only see short snippets.
Bunnell said Google's founders, Sergey Brin and University alum Larry Page, envisioned a world of digitized books while pursuing their doctorates at Stanford.
"Books were in the minds of the founders from the very beginning," said Bunnell, also a University alum.
Since Google started copying books, the company has encountered its share of legal battles.
Last fall, five members of the American Association of Publishers filed a lawsuit accusing Google of copyright infringement. They complained that Google was earning revenue from copyrighted material without authors' consent. The Authors Guild has also filed suit, citing similar concerns.
Willett said MBooks will provide students with an opportunity to discover new books.
"It will take them to books they wouldn't have known about before, and it will do so faster," he said.
Using the MBooks program, students will be able to search by keyword rather than by title, which will make it easier to find relevant information.
The University's libraries will also be improved, Willett said.
"It will increase the use of our collection," he said. "Having things available online increases the use of physical copies."
In the future, Willett said he would like to see MBooks provide people with a way to assemble their own personal collections.
He also floated the idea of a "wiki-like environment" that would allow users to edit the content of the program and correct any errors they find.
Willett said he is optimistic that Google will reach its goal of digitizing every book in the world.
"With the level of production we're seeing now, that's definitely possible," he said.