New York, NY, December 14, 2004 -- Paul LeClerc, President of The New York Public Library (NYPL), today announced that in an unprecedented move for public libraries, NYPL is partnering with Google in a pilot program that will make a subset of its books available in full text on the web. This collaboration will greatly expand the accessibility of the Library's collections and support its mission of providing the public with free and unlimited access to information and knowledge resources.
In this pilot program, NYPL is working with Google to offer a collection of its public domain books, which will be scanned in their entirety and made available for free to the public online. Users will be able to search and browse the full text of these works.
When the scanning process is complete, the books may be accessed from both The New York Public Library's website (www.nypl.org) and from Google. This is an expansion of the publisher-focused Google Print program announced last month.
Dr. LeClerc said, "This is an historic moment for libraries everywhere, and for this library in particular. NYPL has over 50 million items in its vast collections, 20 million of which are books. The public has been able to search the bibliographic online catalog of the NYPL for over a decade, but never before has one been able to search the full content of any of our holdings electronically.
"The books that will be digitized in this pilot project were chosen based on three important criteria: they are all in the public domain, they are not too fragile to scan, and we know that they are of great interest to the public." For the duration of this pilot project, Google's innovative scanning operation will come onsite to NYPL. LeClerc added, "The New York Public Library is participating in the project because it is central to our mission - making our collections democratically accessible to a global audience, free of charge. Without Google's assistance, the cost of digitizing our books - in both time and dollars - would be prohibitive. This is a win-win situation for everyone involved."
The New York Public Library is one of several libraries taking part in this digital venture with Google; others include the libraries at Michigan, Stanford, Harvard, and Oxford Universities. NYPL is the only public library participating in this initiative.
The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is a system of 89 libraries, and is unique in combining major research facilities and a branch library system within one overall structure. The four Research Libraries have collections in more than 3,000 languages and dialects. The 85 Branch Libraries, located in three boroughs of New York City, contain the circulating materials.
The New York Public Library's comprehensive website, www.nypl.org, offers tens of thousands of pages worth of information and access to Library collections and catalogs. Several digital image collections are currently available there, including the Picture Collection Online, a database of 30,000 digitized images, from the 1700s through the first quarter of the 20 th century.
Last month, NYPL launched its new eBooks service. eBooks are digital versions of print books that may be read on PCs, laptops, and PDAs. New York Public Library cardholders now have free access to more than 3,000 new and popular fiction and nonfiction eBooks including best-selling and award-winning titles. eBooks have been licensed through OverDrive, Inc., a Cleveland company that specializes in managing the distribution of digitized content to publishers, retailers, and libraries.