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Wisconsin library joins Google book project

The University of Wisconsin has agreed to take part in Google Inc.'s bid to scan book collections of the world's great libraries, joining a second wave of backers for the controversial project, the two organizations said late on Wednesday.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison and Google plan to provide access to hundreds of thousands of public and historical materials from the UW-Madison libraries and the Wisconsin Historical Society Library, they said. Those books and documents represent one of the largest U.S. collections of historical and government documents. They will be selected from a combined 7.2 million library holdings.

Librarians working to scan the Wisconsin library holdings will focus on collections concerned with the history of medicine, patents and discoveries and engineering, along with the early publications of scientific societies.It will also target American and Wisconsin history, genealogical materials, decorative arts and sheet music, among other subjects, the University of Wisconsin said.

"Whenever possible, the university intends to make the complete content of public documents available on the Internet, including text, images, and maps." Edward Van Gemert, interim director of the library system said in a statement.

The drive to digitize major libraries was nearly derailed when authors' and publishers' groups sued Google last year to block scanning of copyrighted library books, arguing that -- akin to Napster's effect on the music industry -- the effort might tempt consumers to stop buying printed works.

Google has countered it is creating the electronic equivalent of a library card catalog for copyrighted works and that the library project only plans to publish the full texts of out-of-copyright books in the public domain.

For copyrighted works, users can view basic background data (such as the book's title and the author's name) and a few lines of text related to their Web search, as well as information about where they might buy or borrow the book. Anyone with an open Internet connection can use Google Book Search to search the full text and locate the printed works digitized from within the Wisconsin collections or those of other libraries participating in the project.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison joins the University of California and Spain's Universidad Complutense de Madrid -- two other major libraries Google has announced are participating in the library book search project in the past two months.

The Google Books Library Project began last year with five participating libraries -- the University of Michigan, Harvard University, Stanford University, the New York Public Library and Oxford University. Google is also conducting a pilot project with the Library of Congress.

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