The University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of Texas at Austin, two longtime participants in Google’s massive book-digitizing project, announced today that they have expanded their agreements with the company. The new deals strengthen the alliance between two big university systems and Google’s Book Search program at a time when it is drawing scrutiny from librarians and federal regulators, among others.
Both universities noted that the new arrangements were made possible by the settlement Google reached last year with authors and publishers who had sued the company for alleged copyright infringement. A federal court is scheduled to hold a fairness hearing on the settlement in October. The Justice Department is investigating whether the agreement violates antitrust regulations.
In a statement, Wisconsin said that the fresh deal “enables the university to broaden public access to its collection in new ways.” That includes the combined library holdings of the university and the Wisconsin Historical Society, described as “one of the largest collections of documents and historical materials in the United States.” According to the release, the university has already digitized all the historical society’s genealogical materials and has begun scanning its Native American collection and its African-American collection.
Texas issued a similar statement emphasizing that the new agreement will make it easier to spread its libraries’ intellectual wealth. It ensures “that our participation in the project will fulfill our initial primary goals of discovery, preservation and access,” said Fred Heath, vice provost and libraries director. “Additional provisions will enhance local access while allowing for the introduction of rich materials from our collections to a broad audience.”
The University of Michigan, one of Google’s staunchest partners in the venture, announced a similar expanded agreement in May. —Jennifer Howard